Living In: Salisbury, Conn.: An Antidote for Cabin Fever

Living In: Salisbury, Conn.: An Antidote for Cabin Fever

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“There are very interesting people who live up here,” Ms. DiSesa said. “I also love the fact that the people at the post office know my name, and the dogs’ names.”

110 MILLERTON ROAD A restored 1866 Greek Revival five-bedroom home with four and a half baths, listed at $1,585,000. 860-435-2200, Ext. 103


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Jane Beiles for The New York Times

Steve and Jennifer Lehner, Upper West Side residents, bought a second home in Salisbury in 2015 and spend weekends, holidays and summers there. Mr. Lehner said the town appealed to his family because of “the charm of the area, the four seasons of activities and the mix of people.”

His three children ski, play soccer and hockey, and take swimming lessons in the town recreation program. “There’s a softball game on Sundays open to anyone,” he said, adding that he had struggled to get into games in Central Park.

The town’s biggest industry is education, with three private schools that draw students from across the country and internationally. The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, a village in Salisbury, is a coeducational prep school; the Salisbury School is a boys’ prep school; and the Indian Mountain School, also in Lakeville, is a coeducational school for prekindergarten through ninth grade.

Salisbury, like much of Litchfield County, was hit hard by the 2008 recession, and the real estate market is only now beginning to bounce back.

“We take forever to turn the ship around,” said Ted Murphy, a real estate agent in the town of Litchfield and treasurer of the Connecticut Association of Realtors. Since 2015, however, inventory levels in the county have dropped 40 percent, he said, and prices have started to rise.





Elyse Harney Morris, a second-generation real estate agent in Salisbury, echoed that view. Since the November election, million-dollar homes have been selling, and a home recently sold for $5.8 million. “But that’s not the typical sale,” she said. “The most active sale price is $500,000 and below.”

One element of Salisbury’s appeal to New Yorkers is that it is only about two hours by car from Manhattan, and traffic is rarely an issue. That was important to Ms. DiSesa and Mr. Goodall, who maintain an apartment in the city.

“We’re big theater people,” she said. “We go to the city to see our doctors and to see theater.”

What You’ll Find

Salisbury’s main appeal is to people who love the outdoors. Its three biggest lakes — Lakeville Lake (also known as Lake Wononscopomuc) and the Twin Lakes, Washinee and Washining — offer swimming and boating. The Housatonic River passes through town, as does the Appalachian Trail and a three-mile rail trail that is popular with bicyclists and hikers.

It also has six of Connecticut’s 10 tallest peaks, though at a little over 2,000 feet, they are modest compared with the 4,000-footers in northern New England.

52 EAST MAIN STREET A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house on 1.2 acres built in 1744, with a two-car garage, listed at $549,000. 860-480-0546

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Jane Beiles for The New York Times

One of the town’s hamlets, Lime Rock, is famous for its auto racetrack, Lime Rock Park.

Another landmark is the 150-year-old White Hart Inn, the town’s best-known gathering place, which was closed for several years but reopened in 2014 after it was bought by a group of investors, including the writer Malcolm Gladwell, the chef Annie Wayte and Meredith Rollins, the editor in chief of Redbook.

In addition, Salisbury boasts the lowest municipal property tax rate in the state, at $10.70 per $1,000 of assessed value. (No. 2 is Greenwich, at $11.20.)

What You’ll Pay

Smaller homes in Salisbury are often available for $300,000 to $500,000, said Ms. Morris, the real estate agent. At the only condominium complex in town, Lion’s Head, prices range from $295,000 to $595,000.

The most desirable properties for weekenders and summer residents are lakefront homes and those with views of the Taconic Mountains, and prices for such houses start at $1 million.

“Anything on the lake, you’re paying a premium, even for a tear-down,” she said, adding that a lakefront lot of less than an acre recently sold for $1.2 million. After the recession of 2008, when prices for most homes in Salisbury fell 25 percent, lakefront property generally held its value.

“We’re seeing a lot of first-time second-home buyers,” said Pat Best, another real estate agent in town. “They’re happier if they can be under a million, and happier still under $500,000.” She added that she was seeing more and more young couples who have decided to buy homes in Litchfield County and rent in New York City.

The Vibe

Salisbury combines the quaintness of Norman Rockwell New England, the cachet of the Upper East Side and the enthusiasm for the outdoors of Vermont and Colorado.

While weekenders come for the outdoor activities, new residents like to talk about how friendly and welcoming the town is, about saying hello to Meryl Streep, a longtime resident, at the gas station.

“Salisbury is very comfortable in its own skin,” said Anne Young, a Californian who moved to town in 2014 and bought a home with her husband a year later. “The people here chose to be here.” Even the celebrities, she said, are approachable: “They let their guard down here.”

Part-time residents proudly say, “This is not the Hamptons,” adding that the social scene is very low-key and that natives mingle easily with newcomers and summer visitors.

“It’s not a pressure cooker,” Mr. Goodall said.

The Schools

In addition to private schools, the town is served by the Salisbury Central School, which houses prekindergarten through eighth grade. It has 286 students; in 2016, 81.3 percent met state standards in English and 71.3 percent met state standards in math, compared with 55.7 percent and 44 percent statewide. Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, with 421 students from six towns, including Salisbury, had average SAT scores of 537 in English and 503 in math in 2016, compared with the statewide averages of 520 in English and and 502 in math.

The Commute

Metro-North’s Harlem line runs regular train service to Manhattan from Wassaic, N.Y., about 15 minutes from Salisbury. The trip ranges from two hours to two hours and 20 minutes, depending on the time of day. A monthly ticket is $536; a round-trip peak ticket is $52.50 and an off-peak is $39. By car, the trip via Interstate 684 or the Taconic State Parkway is about two hours and 10 minutes.

The History

Surprisingly for such a bucolic place, Salisbury was once an industrial center. It was a major producer of cannons, cannonballs and chains, using local iron ore, and it has been called the “arsenal of the Revolution.” But as Elyse Harney, Ms. Morris’s mother, tells it, the industry eventually ran out of charcoal to fire its forges and furnaces, and water power from the town’s lakes wasn’t sufficient. “Otherwise,” she said with a smile, “we could have turned into Pittsburgh.”

Correction: May 31, 2017

An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the Salisbury home that recently sold for $5.8 million. It is not the case that Elyse Harney Morris made the sale.

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