HomeCulture & ArtA Peek Into the History of the Katharine Hepburn House

A Peek Into the History of the Katharine Hepburn House

Photo Courtesy of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty Essex

Katharine Hepburn was an American actress with a Hollywood career that spanned 60 years. According to the LA Times, she paved the way for generations of actresses to come. Her Old Saybrook, Connecticut home where she lived until her death in 2003 was sold in 2017 for $11.5 million. The 8,368-square foot listing was built in 1939. The land it sits on is 1.5 acres and the house overlooks a private pond and a beautiful lawn.

The property was initially bought by Hepburn’s parents in 1913. After it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938, Hepburn had it rebuilt the year after the natural disaster. The house has undergone changes throughout the years, but there are still remnants of the estate that Hepburn once resided in.

Hepburn was known to adore this mansion when she lived there. She grew up spending her summers at the estate, where she always felt most at home. According to the Boston Globe, it was there that she learned how to tennis and golf. When Hepburn retired from acting as an adult, she moved to the residence and lived there full-time.

The modern nautical-style home itself is beautiful and fitting for someone like Hepburn. With the clean and classic look of the whitewashed brick exterior, sloping rooftops, and the sight of several patios and balconies, the house is built to reflect the beauty of its surroundings. 

Photo Courtesy of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty Essex

The interior of the house features an open flow. At the entrance of the estate, guests will find themselves looking up at the impressive foyer that goes up three stories. This open flow style of housing is used to emphasize the Long Island Sound. From the foyer, the view goes right to the living room. It’s wide and provides a wonderful view. This space features whitewashed walls and flooring with blue accents to reinforce the nautical style. 

According to a clip from Open House TV, Fionna Sciame, the daughter of a former owner of Katharine Hepburn’s Connecticut estate, noted that the kitchen is the “heart of the home.” The space shows custom-built cabinetry, marble countertops, a Sub-Zero fridge, and an Aga stove.

In the center of the room is a large island with more than enough room for three people to sit comfortably. This space makes it easy to see how this was an important part of the house to have family gatherings.

Photo Courtesy of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty Essex

One of the most exciting features, other than the well-decorated interior, is the view. When you step out of the living room to the patio that’s right there, you will immediately be greeted by an expansive waterfront. Since the estate is so large, the property itself is very private so it makes sense why Hepburn used the estate as an annual summer retreat. 

The house features six bedrooms that have their own bathrooms. Before undergoing its renovations, the home originally had nine bedrooms. The highlights of this mansion are definitely the gorgeous views onto the waterfront. Having the privacy to view all of this, and even having its own dock sure sounds appealing especially for a famed actress wanting to retire. 

After Hepburn died, the estate was bought for $6 million in 2004 by Frank Sciame, the owner of Sciame Construction. After remodeling the home, it was put on the market in 2011. The house was initially listed for $18 million. With no buyers, the listing was lowered to $14.8 million, and finally was sold for $11.5 million in 2017. It is safe to say that whoever bought the mansion must be appreciative of the history and beauty that it holds. 

Nina Yu is a writer, new to the city. Her articles have been published to local newspapers and a national women’s online magazine.

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