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The beach house at 209 Salt Island Road in Westbrook (center) will be featured on an upcoming episode of HGTV’s Beach Hunters. (Photo courtesy of Tom Simjian )
The house at 209 Salt Island Road was originally built in 1900 as an annex to the Castlebrook Inn in Westbrook. (Photo courtesy of the Westbrook Historical Society )
How does a house attract the attention of HGTV? Photos of rooms like this made the difference in Westbrook, according to Realtor Tom Simjian. (Photo courtesy of Tom Simjian )
(Photo courtesy of Tom Simjian )
(Photo courtesy of Tom Simjian )
The Castlebrook Inn burned down in 1961, but the next-door addition at 209 Salt Island Road remains today. (Photo courtesy of the Westbrook Historical Society )
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The Teuberts intended to spend the rest of their lives at 209 Salt Island Road in Westbrook. They began renovations with an eye to growing old there. They didn’t intend to sell it seven years after purchasing it, nor did they imagine it would be featured on the HGTV program Beach Hunters. But the home will make its television debut on Sunday, July 28 at 9 p.m.—and there’s no doubt it’s photogenic.
The listing photos are what drew the television producers to the property. Realtor Tom Simjian got the call and contacted owners Heidi and Wyatt Teubert who, on a mid-April Saturday, packed up their two small dogs, Elvis and Kojak, and made themselves scarce. The filming started at around 8 a.m. and went until roughly 7 at night.
“They were looking for properties that were actually on Long Island Sound,” said Simjian. “They loved the character. They loved the quality of the photos and that you’re on the water. That’s what the show is all about.”
The Teuberts didn’t have to bother much with preparations because the house was already on the market, though Heidi Teubert removed her personal photos.
“I think I had one tiny one in the bathroom, but...it was so old it looked like one of the pictures that came in the frame,” she said.
Removing personal photos wasn’t all the prep needed.
The film crew “took all of our books and all of my cookbooks and turned them backwards,” she said.
The crew also placed tape over the brand names on all the appliances. Teubert reported there may still be tape on one of them.
An Expensive Renovation
The couple has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the renovation, lifting the house an entire story and installing a sea wall, a cozy, ground-level deck and, above that, a sitting room with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide sweeping views of Long Island Sound.
They’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars more than they intended to.
“This was it,” Teubert said. “This was our last stop. That’s why we put the elevator shaft in. We almost put the elevator in, but we were spending fistful of money after fistful of money.”
“It’s amazing how much more expensive it was than the initial estimate,” said Wyatt Teubert.
“Part of it was us saying, ‘Uh, you know, now that you did that, what about if we did this?’” said Heidi Teubert. “We’d make changes on the fly, which cost us more money.”
The Teuberts stayed in the house as long as possible while the work went on, at one point living in a roughly 400-square-foot area encompassing the kitchen, the sitting room, and the full first-floor bathroom.
When they could no longer stay, they rented the house two doors down.
The home at 209 Salt Island Road is now FEMA compliant. There are steel reinforcements in the walls and between floors; the new storm windows are said to withstand 150-mph winds. To install the pylons that elevate the house, the contractor drilled about 35 feet into the bedrock, Wyatt Teubert said.
“We’ll be the last home standing in a hurricane,” said Heidi Teubert.
Personal and Public History
The Teuberts moved to Westbrook from Stamford in 2012 when their son, who has autism, was offered a spot at Vista Life Innovations.
“It was critical at the time,” said Teubert. “We got him settled in the area. It took us like eight years. Now we’re very comfortable with where he’s living and he’s in a great place and great people are taking care of him. And in the special needs world, that’s just not what happens all the time. We just got really, really lucky.”
Now that he’s settled, a convergence of factors have made moving south seem like a good idea. One of those factors is the amount of money they’ve sunk into the home.
“We would like to have access to our money,” said Teubert. “A good portion of the money I make from the pension from my company after 47 years, if not all of it, goes into the mortgage and the taxes” as well as insurance.
“When we were working, it was no problem,” she continued, but the two have now retired.
“We decided we’d like warmer weather, too,” she said. “It wasn’t just one thing. It was a whole bunch of things coming together.”
The couple lived in the house from 2012 to 2015 without modernizing it. But once they started, they approached the project with gusto, bringing on contractor Pat Mekrut from Rivershore Builders and architect Jeff Flowers from JW Flowers Architects.
It was important to them that they preserved the historic charm of the place. The house was built in 1900 as an annex to the Castlebrook Inn, a 60-room hotel five doors down; 209 Salt Island Road provided eight additional rooms.
The inn, which was active beginning in 1936, burned to the ground in 1961, according to Simjian.
The Teuberts retained the room numbers on the upstairs bedroom doors. Many original details remain, such as plumbing fixtures, a claw-foot tub, and glass doorknobs, which are still functional.
The house originally had five full baths, four of them upstairs—one for each bedroom. Reducing the baths upstairs to just two, with one larger one off the master bedroom, provided space for the elevator shaft, a wider hallway, and larger closets in each bedroom. The elevator shaft, with floors installed, is being used as storage space on each of the three stories.
“Old homes don’t have closets that big,” said Heidi Teubert.
And the new owners, whoever they may be, can decide whether they want to leave them as is, or install an elevator.
“And we get a two-car garage out of the deal,” she added, which is rare on the shoreline, she pointed out, “unless they’re $3 to 5 million.”
The Salt Island Road home is listed at $1,024,000.
Like most people who have invested time, money, and passion in home renovations, they anticipate selling to be bittersweet.
“We love it here,” said Wyatt Teubert.
“It’s going to be very difficult to leave,” Heidi Teubert said.
209 Salt Island Road in Westbrook will be featured on HGTV’s Beach Hunters on Sunday, July 28, at 9 p.m.
The annual guide to the CT River Valley has arrived.