Hillcrest Park mansion bought by famous bandleader for his Italian-born parents
Editor’s note: This is part of a series looking at historic homes in Greenwich.
A complex of gabled rooflines dominates the mass of Stonehenge, a Shingle-style mansion built at the turn of the 20th century in Hillcrest Park on the Old Greenwich-Stamford border. Hillcrest Park was developed by dry goods merchant, Joseph Dillaway Sawyer after he bought the corn and potato fields of the 78-acre farm of Sabina Bowen for $8,500 in 1886. Sawyer later purchased three adjacent farms, ultimately acquiring 250 acres.
Sawyer originally farmed the land and, with the byproduct of 60 Dutch-belted cows, started a milk-delivery business. In time he built houses, both in Hillcrest Park and elsewhere in Old Greenwich and Noroton.
Stonehenge, with rough-cut fieldstone covering both the foundation and first level, changes to wood shingles above. Inside, there are polygonal bay windows, accented with stained glass, beamed ceilings in a variety of heights and a dining room, where one part is divided into two levels, an inglenook and a balcony framed by three arches with a balustrade. Rising through the balcony is a chimneybreast over fieldstone fireplaces at each of two levels.
The best-known occupants of the house (from 1935 to 1956) were the Lombardo family. Big- band leader Guy Lombardo bought the home and surrounding property for his Italian-born parents, Angeline (“Lena”) and Gaetano, a tailor who always dreamed of having a farm. Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, which included five of his six siblings, flourished for 50 years–30 of them at the Roosevelt Hotel Grill Room in Manhattan. The band became synonymous with the celebration of New Year’s Eve through its broadcast specials, first on radio and later on television, heard throughout the nation for decades.
—More than 280 properties have received Landmark Recognition status from the Greenwich Historical Society. Each month, Greenwich Time will look at one of these properties along with its history, courtesy of the Historical Society and Susan Nova Landmark Recognition committee.