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A Cinderella House Makes Its Debut for Charity

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Twin Lakes Farm is the star of the benefit house tour on Saturday

Matthew Patrick Smyth, an A-list New York decorator with a weekend house in Sharon, is used to working for demanding clients who expect things done yesterday. So he was not surprised when Scott and Roxanne Bok approached him in June about decorating a restored 19th century farmhouse in Salisbury, CT, and told him that it absolutely had to be ready by September 5.  “We had promised the Housatonic Child Care Center that it could be on their annual charity house tour on September 6,” explains Roxanne.

Rural Intelligence Home and Garden Though there are four other residences on this year’s house tour, Twin Lakes Farm, as the property on picturesque Route 44 is now called, is the marquee mansion.  Always referred to by locals at the old Crosby Estate (Bing’s brother Everett once lived there), it had become a spooky and dilapidated ruin with burned out greenhouses and a concrete wall out front—the proverbial white elephant.  The Boks, who have a house nearby, wanted to buy it for the farmland so they could raise cattle and grow vegetables to supply the kitchen at their White Hart Inn, which was recently featured in The New York Times.  “The owners were very difficult so we did not even see the inside of the house until we bought it, but we had planned to knock it down anyway” says Roxanne. “When I finally saw it, I realized it was an elegant Victorian trapped in bag-lady clothing. I couldn’t kill her.”

After ripping off weird additions, meticulously renovating the interior, building new barns, replacing the concrete wall with a stone one, fencing pastures and planting a row of trees along Route 44, the Boks decided that the house would make an ideal office for their various local businesses (including Weatogue Stables) and their family foundation (which is a major supporter of not-for-profits like TriArts and Shakespeare & Company.)  “They wanted to be able to use the house for board meetings, conferences and parties,” says Smyth. “And they wanted it to feel like their home, too.”

Rural Intelligence Home and GardenSmyth managed to pull off the balancing act—and on time too. He used as many local resources as possible—from buying kitchen rugs at Hammertown Barn, chairs at Susan Silver Antiques in Sheffield and a magnificent 7-leaf dining table from New York antique dealer David Duncan who has a weekend house in Falls Village. When the Boks left for a ten-day wilderness trip to Alaska two weeks ago, the house was still empty. When Roxanne arrived on September 3 to see if the house was ready for Saturday’s tour, she was awed by what she saw. “It’s shockingly beautiful,” she told Smyth, and immediately called her husband in New York. “Scott, you are going to die when you see it. Every room is perfect. It’s totally, totally gorgeous.”

You can judge for yourself on Saturday.

The 25th Annual House Tour to benefit the Housatonic Child Care Center
Saturday, September 6, 10 AM to 4 PM
Advance tickets $45; available at J. Stack in Salisbury, Salisbury Pharmacy, Salisbury Garden Center,  Four Seasons Food in Lakeville, or Sharon Pharmacy,

Day-of tickets $50; available at the Salisbury and Lakeville post offices or at any of the houses on the tour. There will be lawn signs all over town pointing the way to the houses.
Rural Intelligence Home and Garden
Smyth and homeowner Roxanne Bok on the back porch of the recently renovated and just decorated Twin Lakes Farm

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 09/04/08 at 08:00 AM • Permalink