BRANFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — While some women collect shoes and handbags, one wealthy widow in Conn. collects islands and now she’s ready to sell two of them – for the right price.
Christine Svenningsen, a widow of a party-goods magnate, spent more than $30 million to buy ten of the Thimble Islands off Branford in the Long Island Sound.
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The houses on the islands have served as a playground for President William Howard Taft, James Earl Jones and “Doonsbury” cartoonist Garry Trudeau and have attracted celebrities and the wealthy for generations.
Svenningsen, an artist, has restored many of the properties.
“They’re like little pieces of art. I get to put my brush to them,” Svenningsen said in 2006.
The two she’s willing to part with are Jepson Island for nearly $2 million and Beldon Island for almost $4 million.
“For anybody looking for privacy it’s got great appeal yet it’s very close to the mainland,” said Clint Rodenberg, an agent at William Pitt Sotheby’s in Madison, where listing agents Margaret Muir and Tony Nuzzo are handling the sale.”
Jepson Island is a little over one-quarter of an acre and has a 1,100-square-foot house with a wraparound deck. Belden is slightly over an acre and has a 1912 colonial with about 2,100 square feet and clam beds.
Svenningsen’s late husband, John, bought a home on the islands in the late 1970s. After he died in 1997, she began to buy more islands.
But Svenningsen said she won’t just sell them to anyone. She’s looking for the right buyer who will respect them and enjoy them as much as she did.
Of the hundreds of Thimble Islands, about 25 are considered habitable. Tour boats have taken sightseers among the islands for generations, while treasure hunters have combed them for Captain Kidd’s buried riches.
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