Blue-Chip ConnecticutIyna Bort Caruso
Along a 30-mile stretch of coastline in Fairfield County, Connecticut, is a collection of blue-chip communities that are among the most affluent in America. This is the Gold Coast, on the Long Island Sound, where 24-karat pockets like Greenwich and Darien have some of the nation’s highest per capita income levels. Naturally, this includes one of the most impressive and long-standing luxury real estate markets in the United States.
Sections of Fairfield County are a manageable commuter-train ride away from New York City--less than an hour. Some towns even enjoy a skyline view. Yet the county isn’t simply a bedroom community. Arts and cultural organizations are home grown and well supported, and Fairfield has a corporate base of its own. Health care and investment management services are major industries with Greenwich being a stronghold for hedge funds firms. The area wears its affluence with restraint, not flash. Between the rarified enclaves of polo clubs, yacht clubs and country clubs, there is a decidedly Yankee feel. Its character is more New England than New York.
Old stone walls border country roads and lobster shacks are as common as five-star restaurants. A preponderance of historical museums and vintage luxury homes vouch for the region’s respect for the past. More than 50 percent of residences were built in 1950 or earlier, and residents take preservation seriously.
Residential gems can be found throughout the county. On the tip of the Black Rock peninsula in Bridgeport, the state’s largest city, is the neighborhood of St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea, where Craftsman, Mediterranean-style villas, Greek Revivals and Tudors cluster around private beachfront properties and yacht clubs.
There are 280 properties and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Fairfield County. Among those is one of the most recognized in the world, the Glass House designed by architect Philip Johnson as his personal home in 1949. Now a museum, the large glass-enclosed structure seamlessly blends into the landscaping. Fairfield County has a history of celebrated residential architecture. Modernist masterpieces from the likes of Johnson and architect Charles Gwathmey occasionally come onto the market.
While Fairfield County is densely populated, it can feel remote in a hurry. Access to nature preserves for hiking, mountains for skiing and lakes for kayaking are part of Fairfield’s four-season appeal.