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The Theophile and Nellie E. Euphrat Barn, 1907
34 Sammis Street

 

The Hart Castle and its carriage house, also known as the Venetian Castle, were built in 1907 by Theophileus Euphrat, one of Rowayton’s first developers, and purchased by the Hart family in 1917 as a summer home. Edward Francis Hart was president of four businesses in New York City at the time of the purchase—National Engraving, Unique Illustrations, Syndicate Advertising, and Artistic Advertising. Mr. Hart and his wife, Ellen Maher Hart, enjoyed countless summers looking over the pristine Farm Creek with their two children, Alice and Edward.

The beautiful stone house, which included a turret that gave it a castle-like appearance, was one of the grandest homes in Rowayton in its day. “When my father-in-law renovated this place, he only bought the best,” said Jimmie Hart, the wife of Mr. and Mrs. Hart’s son, Edward. From Tiffany glass windows to embossed silver grasping plates on the windows, the Castle was a house to behold. “This house has known a lot of parties,” Jimmie told a reporter in 1980, pointing up to an upright piano that belonged to an ancestor and sat on the second-floor balcony overlooking the foyer. The band would play on that balcony while Rowaytonites danced the night away below. “I don’t think there was a person in town that wasn’t here for a party at one time or another,” boasted Mrs. Hart. “During Prohibition, when the other places were closed, there’d be a trash can full of ice, and everyone would just have a time of it.” A dumbwaiter sent food prepared by servants from the large, well-equipped kitchen to the serving pantry on the first floor.

Adding to the colorful, festive scene during the summer season was the Roton Point Amusement Park trolley, which passed just fifty yards from the back porch as it ran from Highland Avenue down to Sammis Street and across Farm Creek. According to lifelong resident Frank Fay, “that gave the property strong identification with a wide population and led rotogravure magazines of the early 1900s to regularly run pictures of the Hart Castle which they referred to as a Venetian Manor.”

Tragically, the beautiful historic Hart Castle was severely damaged in a fire in January of 1980, when a spark from a fire in the library fireplace ignited the old frame, and a fire burned unnoticed in the attic for some time. Edward, Jr., and his wife, Jimmie, were living in the house at the time with their grown son Teddy.

Following the fire, which was big enough to require the Rowayton Fire Department to call in the Darien Fire Department for assistance, the Castle was torn down. The beautiful stone barn, with its charming turret, survived, and thanks to the diligent work of countless volunteers and generous donors, it is now part of the Norwalk Land Trust’s magnificent property on Farm Creek.

Hart Castle painting former Rowayton res
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"The Hart Castle"
by former Rowayton resident Albert F. Michini

Trolley heading over the tracks towards Roton Point. Hart Castle is to the right.

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