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Katharine Hepburn's 'Paradise' Returns for a Reduced $14.8M

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The former compound of Hollywood leading lady nonpareil Katharine Hepburn has fallen a long way from its June, 2011 ask of $28M, but even at a diminished relisted price of $14.8M, would still set a record for the town of Old Saybrook, Conn. Or so its listing agent tells the Wall Street Journal, which relates the tale of how current owner Frank Sciame decided to split up the initial acreage he had trouble selling—after upping the price to $30M and dropping it to as low as $18M—which he bought from Hepburn's estate in 2004 for $6M. Initially, chez Hepburn was offered with two adjacent parcels of land totaling 3.6 acres, but now it's down to the 1.47 immediately adjacent to the home, hence the major price cut, which Sciame apparently believes will yield "the best return on investment." Disappointingly, the place is back with the same listing photos as before, which picture it after the "gut renovation" the founder of Manhattan-based Sciame Construction visited upon it after purchasing.

The 8,368-square-foot, six-bedroom home had been in Hepburn's family for decades, and was her primary residence until her death in 2003. In 1938, a hurricane lifted the Hepburn's previous home on the same location right off its foundation, with she and her family narrowly escaping, and when the home was first hoisted onto the market, there was some concern voiced over whether spending millions on such a "low-lying, vulnerable property" would require a "special sort of insanity," despite the installed breakwaters. Hepburn seemed happy enough with it; according to the WSJ, in her 1996 memoir Me, she referred to its locale, in the Old Saybrook enclave of Fenwick, as a "paradise."

In 2013, a judge ruled that some driveway-marking granite posts Sciame installed had disrupted this bit of paradise, as the Old Saybrook Historic District Commission alleged, and he was ordered to trim them back, and told that "apparently in certain neighborhoods, as in life, size does matter." Will a reduced parcel size and accompanying price drop matter for the former chez Hepburn? Either way, sounds like it'll soon have a new neighbor in the form of the 3,000-square-foot house Sciame plans to build on one of the other lots.

UPDATE: A rep for Sciame writes in to detail some of his flood-prevention efforts: "Mr. Sciame raised the home five feet to avoid water damage from events such as Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. Because of Mr. Sciame's expertise and vision to raise the home, the house did not take on water during both severe water events, nor would it be likely to be affected negatively by similar events in the future."


· Katharine Hepburn's Home Returns to the Market for a Reduced $14.8 Million [WSJ]
· Undisclosed address [ZIllow]
· Katharine Hepburn's Connecticut "Paradise" on Long Island Sound [Curbed National]
· All Katharine Hepburn coverage [Curbed National]
· All Old Saybrook coverage [Curbed National]