Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Part III of NYC diary: Martha Stewart's Fabulous Turkey Hill

When I last left the blog, I told you there would be part III of my account of
the trip to NYC with Matthew Mead to attend a party for Mary Emmerling.
I did mention that Part III would include a trip to Martha's!
So let me give you a bit of background on what I am talking about.
Martha Stewart used to live in an antique colonial in Westport, Connecticut
on Turkey Hill Road for over thirty years.  The house became famous along
with Martha and was featured in her many books and magazines. 
The wonderful party in the city was over, and like a pair of Cinderellas, 
Matthew and I returned to our below average accommodations
 at the run down motel on the outskirts of the city.  
We agreed we would get up bright and early and 
partake in the free continental breakfast, but no matter how early we
woke, the deal was no texting or calling each other before 6 am. 
However I really couldn't get to sleep that night
and as a result I didn't wake up at my usual early hour.  
A light knock on the door jolted
me from my slumber.  ( I was enjoying one of my recurrent dreams of hanging 
out with Tom Brady and Giselle, as we are friends, albeit just in my dreams, lol. 
I do not know why I dream this scenario, but I think its very funny when I do).
"knock knock knock"
It was Matthew at the door...  
"Sorry about that, I just couldn't fall asleep
last night.  Would you mind going to the breakfast alone and bring me 
back a coffee with cream and one sugar and maybe a banana or a muffin or something?" 
 He looked at me, paused and then said, "This is like we really are married."
 Hahah, okay, I guess he was right.  Off he went and I 
promised to get ready quickly so we could get going.  
The last thing he said at the end of the party
while we drove back to the motel was that he would take me by 
Martha Stewart's house, Turkey Hill.
OH BOY!! I was super psyched! I loved that house!! I was so excited for today!
 So I got ready quick as a wink, and thought I could still catch him at breakfast...
so I texted:
Hahahh, why would we expect any different?
Matthew returned with a story about how bizarre breakfast was~
the strange Indian breakfast attendant who didn't speak any English, which was
 slightly problematic as Matthew doesn't drink coffee, and there was an odd
machine that he had to operate to make my coffee and it only came out in small spurts.
Anyway I did get my coffee, a sad greenish colored muffin and a nice little banana.  
The coffee was actually pretty good, which was a big triumph. 
 We scooped up our bags and headed out to his truck to begin the next leg of our journey. 
We would stop for breakfast at a diner in Westport on our way to see Turkey Hill.
Sounded like the perfect plan.  Happily on the road again, enjoying the start of a lovely day.
We found the diner on Post Road in the lovely town of Westport that Matthew was looking for and had a pleasant breakfast.  Then it was time for the main event!!
This photo is an old one of the front of Turkey Hill. 
Many things remain the same,  including the brick walk that is overgrown by grass...
pay attention to that fact as you will see why later.
I loved how Martha put flags out at every window for the Fourth of July.
It's the perfect American home, don't you think?
Now Turkey Hill has been changed from a traditional white to a putty color for both the trim
and the body of the home. Its understated and elegant, but if it were my home, it would be white.
Alright, now I have jumped ahead a bit of myself. Lets talk about Turkey Hill.
It was a dream home, if you love the country life mixed with a bit of formality, as I do.
There are rooms to entertain in and a kitchen to envy, as well as the grounds
to create gardens and outbuildings.  Turkey Hill was one heck of a home,
built by a Sea Captain in the early 1800s.  Of course Martha made many improvements to it,
during her tenure as owner, including later purchasing two additional acres
 for extra gardening space.
Here is how Martha described finding her new home:
"In 1970, while I was living in New York City with my husband, Andy, and our young daughter, Alexis, we were told about a beautiful farmhouse for sale at 48 Turkey Hill Road South, in Westport, Connecticut. The house, on a tract of land that stretched south toward Long Island Sound and had once been an onion farm, came with two acres of deep, loamy soil, a few large trees, and not much else. There was no garage or barn, just a rickety picket fence and an unkempt yard. The house had been rented out to myriad families (including the famous novelist John Hersey) and had suffered obvious neglect. There was not much of a kitchen and no usable bathroom. The basement was damp, and there was no porch, terrace, garden, or driveway. But it had good bones, lovely windows, wide-plank floors, and seven fireplaces. To us, it was perfect: a do-it-yourself project resplendent with opportunity for a reasonable price, $46,750. We closed on the property on April 22, 1971, and the first thing we did was plant an orchard of old-fashioned fruit trees."

Martha was just like me, not afraid of a run down property, as long as it had potential.
And of course, Turkey Hill had loads of potential as Martha would find out and show the world.
Years after she sold it, I am sure there are still many admirers that just have to drive by 
and take a gander at the legendary property.  Back in the day there were many vacant lots,
but now it is quite the address to have, as you will see on our own DRIVE BY with YOU!
So click on the video above and join me and Matthew in the pickup truck checking
out Martha's old place. Pay attention to the moment we stop at the front door walkway~
you will see a gardener and his wheelbarrow.  I guess the brick walk will always need 
weeding, just like it did years ago when Martha owned the home.
After I did the drive by, I checked out the inside on a video tour of TURKEY HILL
by Martha Stewart herself (which is no longer available )
 I was thrilled to see her serving desert on a table
set with all different purple transferware dishes! 
 We collect the same thing! How fun for me! 
They are hard to see, but I took a screen shot
from the video and there they are. She also has a thing for chandeliers...naturally.

Matthew visited Martha in her East Hampton home, called Lily Pond.
We talked about how that came about on our designers convo video below.
So there is all kinds of stuff about Martha Stewart on my blog post
today, as I am clearly a fan! I would have loved to meet Martha
like Matthew did...and someday I hope I will.
Until then, this is about as thrilling as it gets.

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  1. Ohhh my gosh! That was so fun! I loved the sun porch the very best of all. ... and those flowers, it's just crazy wonderful! I love that she showed her messy room...


    1. I'd kill for a sunporch like that!! I LOVED it too!

  2. I am SUCH a fan of hers! You driving by her house is like all the people who drive by old stars homes in LA (only I'd rather drive by Martha's!!) I used to dream of meeting her:)


    1. Hahah I felt like a total stalker...and Matthew told me to do it and I thought, why not?? Hahah!

  3. What fun! I love your video. This is going to have me smiling all day. I also liked the tour of Martha's house. Her chandeliers aren't gigantic and have me rethinking some I found on the French version of Craigslist and that I thought were too small. The ones that come down into a ball are called montgolfiers--the name for hot-air balloons.
    Not crazy about the baskets on the ceiling in the kitchen. Maybe Martha has enough help to keep them dust-free, but I avoid stuff that's all show, no purpose and a lot of upkeep.

    1. Well she remodeled the kitchen and all the baskets are no longer, it was a time capsule of her old home back in the early 80s I think. Its all modernized now, first Martha did it, then the new owners did another remodel. I love those kind of chandeliers, and have one in my dining room (well its more like a basket style).

  4. Amy...thank you and Matthew Mead for taking us along on your wonderful journey to NYC and to Turkey Hill...I have so enjoyed it....Loved following along with your escapades of meeting such interesting and talented people such as Mary E. and the feisty Dr. Ruth and more....thanks for making us laugh at your not so great experience at the below average hotel ... (a weed vs. a Marigold) ... Loved the videos of yours and Martha's...I can't imagine the many visitors that drive by her former home....I had to gasp at the price she paid for in back in 1971.

    1. I know, that price!! But it was a lot of money back then, but now seems like a pittance. Thanks for enjoying it Shirley, I loved visiting her neighborhood.

  5. I have followed Martha from the beginning also, was a charter subscriber, held on for a while, but am not now. I love Turkey Hill! I've heard that when she sold, she did miss it, but her farm in Connecticut is so much bigger. She also restored a house she says built by probably the same builder for a book. I love that house also.

    1. Yes I heard and read that she did miss it, and how could she not? I think it closed as did a chapter of her life, being a housewife and mother...I was also a charter subscriber, but dropped it when the home decorating was not in the was all crafts and stuff.

  6. All I can say is this post was so fun!!!
    The icing on the cake was your conversation with Matthew at the end, great stories :)

  7. Amy, I absolutely delighted in this post! So wanted to be hanging out with you and Matthew on your traveling adventures!! So fun... :-)

  8. Oh, and btw, completely agree with your assessment of the direction of Martha Stewart Living. I still subscribe, but have been disappointed with the direction (or lack thereof) of decor in the magazine. I once wrote a letter pointing out that everything in the magazine is on one side of the color wheel, with a complete absence of blues, purples and pinks. Everything has a yellow/orange/green spin to it which keeps it lacking in femininity. I, too, suspect this has more to do with the influx of young staffers than Martha herself.

    1. I wrote a letter too, way back when complaining about the lack of interior decoration articles, to no avail. It is a group of young staffers (exactly) deciding to change what was so great about Martha into something "hip". No thanks.

  9. If those walls could speak..:-)
    I really enjoyed this little trip through Martha's lovely Turkey Hill Farm, thank you!
    BTW- I agree with you Amy, on the unfortunate direction that MSLIVING has taken- I'm still a subscriber but now I leaf through the magazine quickly, and I never save a copy. I still have some of the early issues!

    1. I dropped my Charter subscription long ago, but now Martha has sold it, and I wonder if she would ever do a Truly Martha magazine!! Wouldn't that be fun?

  10. Amy, I love this post. I remember the very first time I saw Martha on tv and thought I had found the "Mothership". I too met Martha for just a few minutes when I went to a special event that she shared her garden in slides for our group. Then she signed a book for me and we chatted a couple minutes. What a lovely post!


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