Monday, June 5, 2017

A Tour of Turkey Hill with Martha Stewart and Friends

Martha Stewart led an intimate tour of her former Westport, Connecticut home and gardens for a few of my friends this past weekend.  From the photographs I've seen of that special day, it was an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime by those who were in attendance.  As much as I regret not going to this momentous occasion, my friends were kind enough to allow me to share their amazing photographs here on the blog.

Let's take a tour of Turkey Hill with Martha Stewart and a few of my friends. Without the kindness of Jeffrey Reed, Dennis Landon, Darrin David, Anthony Picozzi and Colin Eastland, this post would not be possible.  It must also be stated that the fundraising event was graciously hosted by the current owners of Turkey Hill, the Bergs.

Many thanks to the Berg family for opening up the property.


Turkey Hill is the Federal style home that was purchased, renovated and landscaped by Martha Stewart and her then husband, Andy, back in 1970.  It was here that Martha began her career as a caterer, author, gardener, television personality, entrepreneur and America's leading lifestyle expert.  

The famed property became the launching point and source of inspiration for many of Martha's ventures.  It is this particular home and garden that America fell in love with the moment Stewart entered our lives.  How can we forget segment after segment of her television shows taped in her gardens, kitchens and various outbuildings found on Turkey Hill Road?  The commercial kitchen equipped with her Garland stoves where Martha began filming her cooking and baking, the tobacco barn where her traditional Thanksgiving dinner how-to was taped, the garden equipment shed where Martha first uttered the words, "it's a good thing", are now classics woven into the fabric of our country.   


The grounds of Turkey Hill are accessible by two driveways.  The main driveway, pictured here, is guarded by an iron gate painted in that wonderful color, drabware.  In fact, the entire house and various outbuildings are also painted that particular shade created by Martha Stewart many years ago.


My friend Jeffrey is standing on the porch of the main house holding a copy of Martha's Gardening book.  He's ready to take us on a tour.

Let's go inside!


As you step inside the center hall of Turkey Hill, you can see that the reproduction Rufus Porter mural is no longer on the wall against the staircase.


Standing at the entrance to the North parlor, the Bergs have kept the room intact and have furnished it with pieces suitable for such a room.  Martha told us that the dentil crown molding was not original to the room.  She installed that herself when it underwent renovation in the early 70s.


The dining room, which was originally a library, is seen here.  I'm not sure if this Baccarat chandelier is the original one that Martha had while she lived at Turkey Hill, but it looks very similar.  


As you walk down the center hall on the thick pumpkin pine floors, and are standing under the keystoned arch, you can see how nice the view of the house is.  The opened door to the left is the library.


The library still has the built-in bookshelves on the lefthand wall, but the Bergs added some drawers for storage.  The right-hand shelves were removed with the hope of finding a hidden fireplace to the room.  No such luck though.  This room used to be the original dining room, and Martha used it as such for many years, until she decided to switch the roles of the library and dining rooms.


When the Bergs purchased Turkey Hill, they decided to do some renovations to the house, but were mindful to leave the various parlors of the main house just as they were.  The kitchen, however, was opened up and extended to include a glassed-in breakfast area overlooking the gardens.  This photograph shows the built-in cabinets that were originally made by Martha's brother, George, when she undertook the last renovation of Turkey Hill.


This is the breakfast area that now adjoins the sunny, glass-enclosed sunporch.  The sunporch on the left is the same one gracing the cover of Martha's first book, 'Entertaining'.  


Here is an outside photograph of the breakfast room and the sunporch.  At the base of the steps that lead from the doorway of the porch, down to the pool area, a wisteria tree planted from Martha's childhood home in Nutley, New Jersey, still stands proudly.



The driveway at 48 Turkey Hill Road curves into this area, where the main house meets the carriage house.  When Martha owned Turkey Hill, both structures were freestanding.  The Bergs merged both buildings with an enclosed breezeway.  If you look closely, you can see the new porch directly across from the cherry tree.  The three-car garage to the right is where Martha had her catering kitchen, equipped with 4 ovens, 16 burners, and multiple refrigerators and freezers. 


Martha Stewart is standing here in the middle of the enclosed breezeway welcoming the guests.  I've been told that Martha was just as happy to be there as were the handful of fortunate visitors.


Here is a view of the carriage barn.  Martha taped so many segments of Martha Stewart Living Television from this building.  Who remembers her Christmas special with Ms. Piggy in which they constructed a giant gingerbread mansion or the first commercials for Martha by Mail?  There is so much history in this structure.


Here is another view of the carriage barn with the prominent cupola.  I had no idea that there was an outdoor stairway (to the right) that led right to the top floor apartment.  The guest apartment was featured in a Martha Stewart Living magazine story entitled, 'Color it Black'.


Standing in front of the carriage barn, the main perennial garden leads the eye to the lush acres of Turkey Hill.  If you look closely, you will notice the iron armillary sphere that the Bergs have prominently placed in the garden.  Martha says that she originally had a giant urn in that spot.


Martha was ecstatic at the flowering digitalis and poppies.  She joked about being careful not to accidentally brew tea made from the leaves of the foxglove plants!  


The hornbeam hedges planted along these areas are absolutely spectacular.  Not only do they delineate the areas of the garden and provide shelter, they create intimate rooms and focal points throughout the acres.


The tree peonies, foxgloves, alliums and poppies are amazing!


The rose cutting garden is located in a different area of the property.  It is a very orderly spot lovingly maintained by the head gardener of Turkey Hill.


My friend Dennis (left) is standing with the head gardener of Turkey Hill, Levy Froes.  Levy worked for Martha at Turkey Hill Road right up until she sold the property.  The Bergs, knowing how much care, time and preparation went into shaping the Turkey Hill gardens, asked that Levy maintain the stewardship of the acres.  He continues to keep order on the grounds of the property just as if Martha were its owner.


The small potting shed located at the end of the main garden is still standing proudly.  


Here is an equipment barn located in the center of the property.  This is where Martha Stewart first coined the phrase, "it's a good thing".  The rest is history!


A few friends gathered in front of the shed to share a Martha moment.  


This photograph was taken while standing along the second driveway.  The area houses the two greenhouses and the chicken coop.  In the distance is the main house.


The beautiful chicken coop and greenhouses stand empty.


Look at Dennis standing there between the structures.  He's in heaven!


When Martha resided at Turkey Hill, she had dozens of chickens in this coop which laid the most beautiful eggs.  The hues of the eggs from the Araucanas, Ameraucanas, Bantams, Marans, Cochins, among others, became the source of inspiration for an entire paint line through Fine Paints of Europe.


My friend Jeffrey looks like he was having the best time here!


Here is another view looking down at the shaded chicken coop.


This tiny smokehouse was built by Martha decades ago.  She used it for many years to smoke a variety of meats.


At the bottom of the second driveway stands the old tobacco barn.  This beautiful building was bought by Martha as a birthday present for her then husband.  Every last piece of wood, shingle and stone was laid down by the Stewarts themselves.  It is a gorgeous barn!


Another view of the tobacco barn shows the prominent chimney.  Martha was photographed here for the cover of her 'Great American Wreaths' book.


The doorway pictured here leads into the barn's kitchen.


Here is another view of that area.


For years I had wondered what the kitchen of the tobacco barn looked like.  I don't think it was ever fully explored in the pages of Martha's magazine.  We now have answers!  It's simple and very clean.


The inside of the barn still looks the same.  It's such a great place for entertaining a crowd.


Martha's chow chow, Genghis Khan, was in attendance.  He's such a sweetheart and gentle soul.


Jeffrey couldn't resist taking a photograph with G.K.!  


The pool located next to the main house is still the same, except for one tiny difference.


A set of steps and a spa area were created at one end of the pool.


I think that Turkey Hill is in great hands.  The Bergs have lovingly maintained the property with the help of great architects, gardeners and managers.  

When Martha spotted her visitors, she was delighted!  


To think that several of my friends were fortunate enough to have walked through the home and gardens on Turkey Hill Road, is simply amazing.  I know that I speak for many when I say that we are indebted to them for their photographs, stories and experiences with Martha at Turkey Hill.  It is indeed a special moment in time to remember for many years to come.

Turkey Hill is such a magical place steeped in so much history.  Let us hope that perhaps one day the property can be willed to a land trust so that it is preserved forever, and made accessible to its devoted fans and admirers.  

Many thanks to my friends, to Martha Stewart and to the Berg family!

16 comments:

  1. What a joy to see all the pictures. Turkey Hill lives on! I'm so happy for those that could attend. Turkey Hill will always be near and dear to my heart!

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    1. It was a joy to live vicariously through these amazing pictures. It's wonderful to know that Turkey Hill is thriving, evolving and maintaining that special quality it possessed under Martha's ownership.

      I'm with you, Kenn!

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  2. Lets hope they do it again. What a wonderful event and tour.

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    1. Hear, hear! I would love to do this at a future date.

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  3. I would go back again, this time in hopes of taking more interior photos and with a tape measure to get the exact room dimensions!

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    1. Nathan, if this event ever happens again, you can sign me up!

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  4. Thanks for sharing the great photo diary. What a special event to get to take part in. I am sure it will be something you never forget. How neat!

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    1. Isn't it great? My friends did an amazing job of photographing so much of the property!!

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  5. It is simply magnificent. So happy to see how beautifully the current owners have maintained it.

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  6. Pretty sure you could imagine yourself living there David

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    1. Who wouldn't? That property is unbelievable!!

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  7. I have always been very interested in and curious about Turkey Hill's outbuildings, especially the tobacco barn. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the great photos. Now, if you can only find a way to get in to Skylands.

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    1. You're very welcome! Skylands would be fantastic to tour! Maybe one day Martha will have a fundraiser there.

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  8. David it's so nice to see everything looking very Martha. I was so worried that the buildings, barns etc. would be torn down and that the house would be unrecognizable. So glad that family has done a good job of maintaining it.

    Thanks for the tour!

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    1. It's amazing that everything is still standing, just like Martha had it. Cheers!

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