New Canaan Now & Then: ‘Gitanjali’


298 Country Club Road

‘New Canaan Now & Then’ is sponsored by Brown Harris Stevens Realtors Joanne Santulli, Karen Ceraso, Bettina Hegel and Schuyler Morris.

“Gitanjali”, a poem by Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tajore, is the name given to the historic Tudor home at 298 Country Club Road. 

The poem’s title roughly translates to an “offering of song” and it appears that the house’s long history has been a muse for its inhabitants. 

The land records list the building date as 1917 but two different sources record the date as earlier (New England Home Magazine article dated April 13, 2010 lists the date as 1870 and the “Secret Garden Tour” of 2002 lists the date as 1890s). 

The 5,000-square-foot home, which was originally the guest house or coach house for a long demolished estate home, includes a potting shed, a stone gardener’s cottage, a pool house and swimming pool, two greenhouses, and a teahouse in its current inception. Incredibly, most of these structures are original to the property. (According to town permits in 1966 and 2004, the greenhouses were added.)  

The property is referred to as “Rat Tuttle’s Hill” in an Advertiser article from 1964. That same article explains that Country Club Road was laid out in 1761 (almost two centuries before the country club was erected). Originally, it was a connecting road running west from Smith Ridge to a dead end west of Oenoke Ridge, then Canaan Ridge. Now it runs across Oenoke Ridge and into West Road from Smith Ridge although it is now wider. “Rat Tuttle Hill” was named for Erastus Tuttle, a carpenter and stonemason who lived just west of the Five Mile River, which is now home to 298 Country Club Road.

The home was purchased on November 11, 1956 by Darwin P. Kingsley II and his second wife, Elizabeth Eckhart Kingsley. Darwin Kingsley’s father was the president of the New York Life Insurance Company from 1907-1930 and is credited with saving the company during the Depression. Darwin Kingsley was a graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School and followed in his father’s footsteps to work at New York Life Insurance. 

He and his wife moved to New Canaan from Hewlett Harbor, Long Island with their two children on April 25, 1957. Mrs. Kingsley was an active member in the New Canaan community. She was a member of the Garden Club, a participant in the New Canaan Committee for American Shakespeare Guild in 1959, and involved in hosting a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood in 1958. Mrs. Kingsley also served as the President of the New Canaan Historical Society in 1961 and was instrumental in moving the Rogers Studio to the campus. In addition to all of her philanthropic work, she was a talented photographer and shared her travel photography on the Galapagos Island in 1970 and Antarctica in 1981 among other trips. Darwin P. Kingsley wrote a column for the Advertiser beginning in March 1978 called “Our Well Organized Town – A History of New Canaan Clubs.” Darwin P. Kingsley died on October 1, 1987.

When Mrs. Kingsley sold her property to the current owners on September 14,1995 the property was in need of renovation. Fortunately the new owners were up to the challenge and embarked on an extensive project. The home, including the original teahouse which has a stone hearth and leaded-glass window, was given its name “Gitanjali.” The current home and its impressive gardens was on the House Tour in 2002 and has been the subject of various magazine articles including “Passage to India” in the March/April 2008 issue of AtHome Magazine. The article reports that the English gardens won a Palladio Award for excellence in traditional design. The current owners strived to restore the property to its original Victorian splendor. 

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