15 Things You Didn’t Know About Waveny House
Interesting facts about the historical New Canaan mansion
- Waveny House sits on land once known as Prospect Farm, which was owned in the late 1800s by a successful leather merchant from New York named Thomas W. Hall.
- In 1904, Hall sold the property to his friend and colleague Lewis H. Lapham. Lapham’s wife, Antionette, renamed the property “Waveny” after the Waveney River in England, near where her ancestors lived.
- Waveny was a summer home for the Laphams, who wanted to build their own “bigger” house, so construction on the Tudor-style Waveny mansion began in April 1912. When Waveny House was completed in 1914, Hall’s original house, which sat in front of Waveny House, was razed.
- The architect for Waveny House was William B. Tubby, a friend of the Laphams and a well-known architect, particularly in New York City.
- The grounds and gardens surrounding Waveny House were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr, son of the designer of Central Park in New York City.
- Mrs. Lapham, one of the founding members of the New Canaan Garden Club, often held the group’s meetings at Waveny House.
- Waveny House at one time had a built-in pipe organ.
- Crops on the farm during the Lapham era included corn, wheat, buckwheat, hay, chickens, apples, peach and pear trees, and a large vegetable garden.
- Lewis Lapham’s sporty son, Jack Lapham, used the back yard of Waveny House as a golf course, polo field and even a landing strip for his private biplane. There were also tennis courts and a swimming pool on the property.
- In 1967, Waveny House and its surrounding 300 acres were sold to the Town of New Canaan by Mrs. Ruth Lapham Lloyd for $1,500,000.
- Celebrities such as Gene Wilder, Tony Randall and Alec Baldwin have either hosted or been interviewed for TV shows inside Waveny House.
- Exteriors of the tudor-style mansion were used in the 2004 movie The Stepford Wives and served as the fictional “Cortlandt Manor house” on the soap opera All My Children.
- Months after their official wedding, JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette had a private reception at Waveny House.
- In the late 70s and early 80s, Martha Stewart catered several weddings at Waveny House.
[Sources: The New Canaan Historical Society and Steve Benko of the Parks and Recreation Department of New Canaan.]