Victorian office building on Main Street sells

The ornate 140-year-old Victorian at the corner of Main and Governor streets has been sold, and plans are reportedly to continue its well-disguised office use. The former “Keeler and Durant building” at 360 Main Street — known by the name of the insurance and real estate company that operated there for decades — sold for $1,350,000 Jan. 31.

The buyer, listed as 360 Main Street LLC in town land records, is a local dentist who intends to move his practice there, according to an attorney involved in the transaction.

The building — facing Main Street between Governor Street and the community center’s Lounsbury House — dates to about 1870 or 1880.

“A grandiose example of a late 19th century home, this structure is basically Victorian in plan (the ‘T’ shape) with several colonial revival features (and Georgian) such as the shuttered and corniced windows and pedimented gables,” says the Ridgefield historical resources inventory. “The dentil mouldings, dormers (with paired half lancet windows), tall brick chimneys, overhanging eaves and oriole windows are Queen Anne in style, as is the veranda.”

Local historian Jack Sanders said the building was a home, office or both for at least three doctors back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The structure, according to Sanders, became a real estate and insurance office in 1945 — first owned by Keeler and Durant, later by Fred Montanari, whose estate sold the building. Most recently it was a Coldwell Banker office.

Before that, Sanders said, the town’s first step into land use regulation was prompted by a proposal in 1941 to lease the site to First National Stores for a supermarket.

“Town fathers were aghast and quickly adopted, with voter approval, an ordinance that regulated any commercial development on Main Street south of Governor Street,” Sanders writes on his Old Ridgefield website. “It was, in effect, Ridgefield’s first ‘zoning.’ (Five years later, spooked by this and some other cases, the town finally adopted zoning after having rejected it many times since the late 20s).”

As offices, the property was a nonconforming use under zoning for many years. But in the early 1990s, a variance was granted allowing the entire building to be used for offices, including medical offices.

In addition to the series of real estate and insurance offices as principal occupants, other tenants have included the Ridgefield Water Supply Co. (which eventually sold to Aquarion), attorney Sidney Burger, and orthodontist Dr. Clark Heydon.