A Gothic Rock Cottage Fit for a Bat Out of Hell


Jim Steinman, who died last year at 73, left behind some of the distinctive catalogs of music in historical past, stuffed with chart-topping hits written for the likes of Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler and Celine Dion. With songs starting from the stressed (“All Revved Up With No Place To Go”) to the wrenching (“For Crying Out Loud”), Mr. Steinman spent many years establishing himself as a complicated songwriter with the spirit of an adolescent.

“As far as Jim was concerned, life was about being forever young, and lusting after this and yearning after that,” mentioned David Sonenberg, Mr. Steinman’s longtime buddy, supervisor and now the executor of his property. “He was going to be 17 forever, and in some ways he was.”

However maybe nothing evokes Mr. Steinman’s legacy just like the Connecticut home the place he lived alone for some 20 years — an imposing museum of the self, hooked up to a quaint cottage within the woods of Ridgefield. He spent years increasing and reimagining the home, remodeling it into an embodiment of his personal eccentric, difficult persona.

Credit score…Michael Putland/Getty Photos

“The house — it’s a trip, it’s extraordinary, it’s one of a kind,” Mr. Sonenberg mentioned. “People would walk in and their heads would spin.”

Mr. Steinman, a lifelong bachelor who had been in declining well being for years, left no directions about what he wished carried out with the home after his demise. Now his longtime buddies are placing the property up for sale — with a provision: It’s being bought “as-is,” which in actual property lingo usually means “in terrible condition.” On this case, it signifies that the sale contains almost all of Mr. Steinman’s private belongings, which stay in the home: the gothic furnishings, spooky art work, wall-mounted data, grand piano, even closets stuffed with clothes.

“We are going to try to keep Jim’s vision and legacy intact,” mentioned Jacqueline Dillon, Mr. Steinman’s longtime artistic assistant and shut buddy. “Jim has been a pop-culture fixture for 50 years.”

Their hope is to promote the home — which, regardless of its 6,000-odd sq. toes, has simply two bedrooms — to a musician, artist or author, or somebody in search of a artistic retreat or efficiency house. The asking value is $5,555,569 — the $69 is a tribute to Mr. Steinman’s beloved Amherst Faculty, the place he graduated with the category of 1969 — and the annual property taxes are round $32,000.

Ms. Dillon described Mr. Steinman — by all accounts a reclusive, nocturnal introvert — as “super-shy, but always so kind, and with a lightning-quick wit.” She met him three many years in the past at a live performance, she mentioned, and was quickly recruited to launch his web site, jimsteinman.com, to attach with followers and to observe press mentions.

She is now serving to to supervise the home sale. “This is not a sale where there is a comparable,” she mentioned.

As with lots of Mr. Steinman’s grandest achievements, the home virtually by no means occurred. It was Mr. Sonenberg who discovered it almost 30 years in the past. Driving by way of Ridgefield, he noticed the house on a secluded lot of about 1.5 acres and thought it could be excellent for his buddy.

“The house was so charming,” mentioned Mr. Sonenberg, whose personal creative goals had been dashed after he met Mr. Steinman within the Nineteen Seventies. “I wrote a song called ‘Pear Tree in the Shade,’” he mentioned. “Jim wrote a song called ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart.’”

Mr. Steinman, who began writing musicals for Joseph Papp on the Public Theater earlier than conquering the pop charts with songs for Meat Loaf’s 1977 smash album “Bat Out of Hell,” was in search of a spot to cover away and work. After years of delays, he and Meat Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday) had been finishing manufacturing on “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell,” which (to nobody’s expectation however their very own) would develop into one of many best-selling albums of the Nineties.

Mr. Sonenberg advised that Mr. Steinman purchase the Ridgefield home: “I said, ‘It’s perfect — you’re by yourself, you never have any guests.’ And he said no, it was too small.”

Round that point, whereas Mr. Steinman was working with Andrew Lloyd Webber on the musical “Whistle Down the Wind,” he visited Lloyd Webber’s manor home, Sydmonton Court docket, in Hampshire, England, and “was just blown away,” Mr. Sonenberg mentioned.

So Mr. Steinman determined to purchase the Ridgefield cottage, paying about $425,000, and convert it right into a hovering sanctuary, a creation as epic as his music.

“It is really special, almost otherworldly,” mentioned Laura Freed Ancona, the itemizing agent, of William Pitt Sotheby’s Worldwide Realty. “Yes, it was a roof over Jim’s head. But it was also a creative space for him.”

Ms. Ancona mentioned the plan now’s to start out with personal and group showings, and to achieve out to numerous arts and cultural organizations, in search of a possible purchaser. “We want to cast as wide a net as possible,” she mentioned.

The home, Mr. Sonenberg mentioned, might be bought to a faculty or establishment and used for a mix of residing, workplace and efficiency house.

Mr. Steinman, who grew up primarily in Hewlett Harbor, on Lengthy Island, moved to Manhattan after graduating from Amherst and was employed by Mr. Papp, who was captivated by songs Mr. Steinman had written for his senior challenge, a rock musical referred to as “The Dream Engine.” It later morphed into “Neverland,” impressed by Peter Pan, the boy who by no means grew up. (A couple of years after getting the Public Theater gig, Mr. Steinman, at all times pitching, wrote a letter to Mr. Papp asserting that “writing and conceiving serious strong musical dramatic works” was one thing “I really think I can do better than anyone I’ve ever come across or heard about.”)

Again then, “his taste in décor was zero,” mentioned Frederick Baron, a university buddy, who remembered visiting Mr. Steinman in a spartan condominium with naked partitions and a fridge holding solely leftover pizza and spaghetti.

“He lived the life of the mind,” Mr. Baron mentioned. “He had this extraordinary level of creativity. He was truly brilliant. All of his life energy was in that keyboard.”

After Mr. Steinman began making severe cash, he purchased a two-bedroom condominium in a postwar co-op overlooking Central Park. That’s the place he met Bonnie Tyler, who would prime the charts in 1983 with the Steinman-penned “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” She and her supervisor had been welcomed with a trail of M&Ms leading to his door.

Mr. Steinman later used that residence largely as an workplace and for wine storage, and moved right into a rented home within the woods of Putnam County, N.Y., with a bunch of cats.

“Jim was a homebody, and being in the city was quite busy for him,” Ms. Dillon mentioned. “He was always being asked to go to people’s shows. Leaving the city removed him from having to do a lot of things. He didn’t go to big events. He let his art do the talking.”

He referred to as the Ridgefield cottage “the house that ‘Bat II’ built,” Ms. Dillon mentioned. “Jim used the expression ‘cottage to compound.’” The album opened with the hit “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That),” with an accompanying video depicting Meat Loaf as a “Beauty and the Beast”-like recluse residing alone in a gothic mansion.

To broaden the home, Mr. Steinman employed Rob Bramhall, a Boston-based architect, ultimately spending about $6 million. Mr. Bramhall labored on the challenge for the higher a part of a decade, greater than doubling the home’s dimension. After their preliminary assembly, Mr. Bramhall despatched Mr. Steinman a ebook by the influential California architect Bernard Maybeck, he mentioned, and “Jim knew I got his sensibility.”

The model was English Cotswolds. “Jim wanted the gables, from left to right, to become slightly larger,” he mentioned. “I remember doing skull-and-crossbones for the faucets in the powder room off the great room. Some of the wall light fixtures were made from aircraft parts.”

Credit score…Mimi Kennedy

Though Mr. Bramhall met with Mr. Steinman in Manhattan and helped him choose and place the art work, “Jim never saw the house until it was done,” he mentioned. “It was a fun and interesting project. I haven’t done anything like it since.”

The unique a part of the home — brilliant and sunny — contains a big lounge with Mr. Steinman’s many gold and platinum albums on the wall, open to an equally giant kitchen with a eating nook. There’s a laundry room and a sunroom, though Mr. Steinman most well-liked the darkish.

“That end of the house represented normalcy to him,” Ms. Dillon mentioned.

Within the eating room, the desk is about with Mr. Steinman’s china, within the Royal Copenhagen Fairy Story sample — not that he ever used it. He most well-liked to eat off disposable tableware, particularly blue Solo cups and Chinet plates.

Within the den, or “viewing room,” he loved watching singing competitions like “American Idol,” and critiquing the judges. He additionally watched cooking reveals, Yankees video games and “Jeopardy!”

“He could listen to music, watch a TV show and type a letter” , Ms. Dillon mentioned. “His mind never stopped working.”

The “good room” — to not be confused with the nice room — holds one in every of his wheelchairs, which he wanted after struggling a sequence of strokes. After all, “it was a crazy wheelchair, like a Batmobile,” Mr. Sonenberg mentioned.

Mr. Steinman referred to the unused visitor room because the “Wendy Bedroom,” after the heroine of “Peter Pan.” The plush bear on the mattress hails from the Nice Ormond Road Hospital for Youngsters, in London, which owns the mental property rights to “Peter Pan” and denied Mr. Steinman’s request to stage a rock musical based mostly on the story, deeming the script — which opened with killer nuns — unsuitable for youngsters.

The addition, all customized made and stuffed with elaborate and peculiar artwork and artifacts, begins with the Ring Room, a small, oval house unfurnished save for sculptures on the partitions, that are a colour Mr. Steinman referred to as obsidian blue. (Obsidian was the title he gave to Neverland’s metropolis.) The ceiling is dotted with LED stars.

“And that leads you from this sweet cottage into this other universe, which is modeled after Steinman’s vision,” Mr. Sonenberg mentioned. “Jim was the most bizarre guy, but he was the sweetest and funniest and most generous. He was the only genius I ever met.”

The first suite is on the finish of a wardrobe hallway, the place the huge closets nonetheless maintain Mr. Steinman’s many garments, few of which he wore, though sweet wrappers stay in a few of the pockets. So many clothes are crammed on the racks that “you would think you were in Bonwit Teller,” Mr. Sonenberg mentioned.

Parallel to the wardrobe hallway is a protracted hall resulting in the nice room, lined with patent leather-based panels and utilized by guests — most lately, these engaged on “Bat Out of Hell: The Musical,” which is touring in Britain and is slated to open in Las Vegas in September.

The large bed room features a desk, sitting space and aquarium. The artwork on one wall, “Inferno” by Joseph Grazi, depicts taxidermic bats flying into the maw of an alligator cranium. A lot of the idiosyncratic artwork Mr. Steinman collected was by artists from Bayreuth, Germany, the longtime residence and remaining resting place of his idol, the composer Richard Wagner, whose operas enthralled him from childhood. The room can also be adorned with objects collected from followers and, on the mattress, a coronary heart pillow in tribute to the surgeon who prolonged Mr. Steinman’s life.

Past the bed room is the home’s focus, the nice room, centered round a stainless-steel sculpture resembling a cluster of large quartz crystals — an allusion to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Mr. Steinman’s 2013 honorary doctorate from Amherst is on show. A bust of Wagner sits atop a Yamaha piano, though Mr. Steinman composed totally on keyboards. “He had this uncanny ability to play all the parts on the piano,” Ms. Dillon mentioned. “It almost sounded like a full band.”

Stairs ascend to a gallery overlooking the room. One chair is occupied by a skeleton mid-shriek. One other flight results in the room on the prime, with a skylight and studying chair.

Mr. Steinman usually used the tiny kitchenette off the nice room, stocked with contemporary fruit and cans of Progresso soup. He was a fan of sizzling sauce, candy soda and chewy sweet. “When I visited him for the first time in his home, he had these containers of gummy bears from the pick-n-mix selection at Dean & DeLuca for $12.99 a pound,” Ms. Dillon mentioned. “Every month, we would get a bill.”

The indifferent two-story storage has plumbing and electrical energy, and will probably be an adjunct dwelling unit. Mr. Steinman used it for storage — he didn’t drive or have a license. Regardless of his love of bikes (and songs about them), he doubtless by no means rode one. As a substitute, he stuffed the storage with copies of his applications and Playbills. “He liked stuff,” Ms. Dillon mentioned.

The query is: Will anybody need Jim Steinman’s stuff? Ms. Ancona is hoping that the property, like Mr. Steinman’s music, will encourage somebody in search of one thing lovely and somewhat unusual.

“Every house needs its own approach, whether it’s a $500,000 home or a $5 million home,” she mentioned. “You really have to find your audience.”

For weekly e mail updates on residential actual property information, sign up here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:




More like this

ChatGPT acquired 100 million active users faster than TikTok and Instagram

ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence-powered...

Manhunt For Dating App Torturer Ends With Discovery Of Multiple Dead Bodies

The excellent news is, this manhunt is over....

Understanding Brain’s Response to Chronic Stress!

Scientists on the Medical Faculty of Georgia at...

It Sure Does Sound Like Biden Steamrolled Kevin McCarthy In Their Meeting

Speaker Kevin McCarthy was speaking an enormous recreation...