Eighth Stop

Innis Arden House Site

Alas, this magnificent house had to be torn down in 1962 as it needed extensive repairs and required more money, time, and attention than the public coffers could provide.

J. Kennedy Tod was among the wealthy elite of New York who made the Connecticut coast their playground. To recap, soon after he married Maria Howard Potter, while residing in NYC, they began acquiring acreage on the Point on which they planned to build their summer cottage. By 1887, they had secured title to most of the peninsula. By 1889, the house was complete.

The architect chosen for the project was Maria’s uncle, William Appleton Potter. He trained for the profession alongside his half-brother, Edward Tuckerman Potter, the architect of the famous 1874 Mark Twain House in Hartford. William Potter, as you may recall, was an associate of Katharine Cotheal Budd, the architect of the Cottage. 

The style of the manor house was eclectic and uniquely suited to the site. Potter designed in the High Victorian Gothic and American Romanesque styles. Thirty European stonemasons, having been brought to America specifically for this work, built the 37-room mansion and its surroundings.

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Main St. Stamford, CT

Locally, Potter was the architect for St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Stamford. The 1891 English Gothic Revival structure features buttressed stone construction, with a compound-arch entry and a large rose stained-glass window. 

The Tods, it is reported, gave generously to their neighbors and servants. They chose to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary by inviting the Sound Beach Fire Department to join a few of their friends from New York City for a reception and banquet at their Innis Arden mansion. Mr. Tod had just provided the fire department with new uniforms fashioned by the famed Ridabock & Co. military officer tailors. After a three-and-a-half-mile parade through the village of Sound Beach, the “fire laddies” entered the 3rd-floor ballroom for a rousing reception featuring a bagpiper and Scottish sword dancer!

Mr. and Mrs. Tod had no children. They passed away in this house in 1925 and 1939, respectively. After Mrs. Tod passed, the estate was ultimately given to the NY Presbyterian Hospital to site a convalescent hospital. As previously mentioned, the town purchased the property in 1945 and, subsequently, converted the mansion into 13 apartments for returning WWII veterans. Rent was nominal. Approximately 30 veterans’ families lived in the former mansion over the next 15 years. Only the “tower” and part of the foundation remain.

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