A Gothic Rock Cottage Match for a Bat Out of Hell

2022-08-05 19:49:35

Jim Steinman, who died final 12 months at 73, left behind some of the distinctive catalogs of music in historical past, crammed 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 classy songwriter with the spirit of a young person.

“So far as Jim was involved, life was about being endlessly younger, and lusting after this and craving after that,” stated David Sonenberg, Mr. Steinman’s longtime pal, supervisor and now the executor of his property. “He was going to be 17 endlessly, and in some methods 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, reworking it into an embodiment of his personal eccentric, difficult persona.

Credit score…Michael Putland/Getty Photos

“The home — it’s a visit, it’s extraordinary, it’s certainly one of a form,” Mr. Sonenberg stated. “Folks would stroll 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 performed with the home after his dying. Now his longtime associates are placing the property up on the market — with a provision: It’s being bought “as-is,” which in actual property lingo usually means “in horrible situation.” On this case, it implies that the sale consists of almost all of Mr. Steinman’s private belongings, which stay in the home: the gothic furnishings, spooky paintings, wall-mounted data, grand piano, even closets stuffed with clothes.

“We’re going to attempt to preserve Jim’s imaginative and prescient and legacy intact,” stated Jacqueline Dillon, Mr. Steinman’s longtime artistic assistant and shut pal. “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 searching for a artistic retreat or efficiency area. The asking worth 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, however at all times so type, and with a lightning-quick wit.” She met him three many years in the past at a live performance, she stated, and was quickly recruited to launch his web site, jimsteinman.com, to attach with followers and to watch press mentions.

She is now serving to to supervise the home sale. “This isn’t a sale the place there’s a comparable,” she stated.

As with a lot of Mr. Steinman’s grandest achievements, the home nearly 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 might be good for his pal.

“The home was so charming,” stated Mr. Sonenberg, whose personal inventive goals had been dashed after he met Mr. Steinman within the Seventies. “I wrote a track referred to as ‘Pear Tree within the Shade,’” he stated. “Jim wrote a track referred to as ‘Complete Eclipse of the Coronary 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 searching for 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: Again Into Hell,” which (to nobody’s expectation however their very own) would turn out to be one of many best-selling albums of the Nineteen Nineties.

Mr. Sonenberg recommended that Mr. Steinman purchase the Ridgefield home: “I stated, ‘It’s good — you’re by your self, you by no means have any visitors.’ And he stated 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 Courtroom, in Hampshire, England, and “was simply blown away,” Mr. Sonenberg stated.

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’s actually particular, nearly otherworldly,” stated Laura Freed Ancona, the itemizing agent, of William Pitt Sotheby’s Worldwide Realty. “Sure, it was a roof over Jim’s head. However it was additionally a artistic area for him.”

Ms. Ancona stated the plan now’s to begin with personal and group showings, and to achieve out to varied arts and cultural organizations, in search of a possible purchaser. “We wish to solid as vast a internet as doable,” she stated.

The home, Mr. Sonenberg stated, could possibly be bought to a faculty or establishment and used for a mix of dwelling, workplace and efficiency area.

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 mission, 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 number 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 severe robust musical dramatic works” was one thing “I actually suppose I can do higher than anybody I’ve ever come throughout or heard about.”)

Again then, “his style in décor was zero,” stated Frederick Baron, a school pal, who remembered visiting Mr. Steinman in a spartan condominium with naked partitions and a fridge holding solely leftover pizza and spaghetti.

“He lived the lifetime of the thoughts,” Mr. Baron stated. “He had this extraordinary degree of creativity. He was really sensible. All of his life vitality 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 “Complete Eclipse of the Coronary heart.” She and her supervisor had been welcomed with a path of M&Ms resulting in his door.

Mr. Steinman later used that dwelling 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 within the metropolis was fairly busy for him,” Ms. Dillon stated. “He was at all times being requested to go to individuals’s reveals. Leaving town eliminated him from having to do a number of issues. He didn’t go to large occasions. He let his artwork do the speaking.”

He referred to as the Ridgefield cottage “the home that ‘Bat II’ constructed,” Ms. Dillon stated. “Jim used the expression ‘cottage to compound.’” The album opened with the hit “I’d Do Something for Love (However I Received’t Do That),” with an accompanying video depicting Meat Loaf as a “Magnificence and the Beast”-like recluse dwelling alone in a gothic mansion.

To increase the home, Mr. Steinman employed Rob Bramhall, a Boston-based architect, ultimately spending about $6 million. Mr. Bramhall labored on the mission 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 stated, and “Jim knew I acquired his sensibility.”

The fashion was English Cotswolds. “Jim wished the gables, from left to proper, to turn out to be barely bigger,” he stated. “I bear in mind doing skull-and-crossbones for the taps within the powder room off the good room. A number of the wall lighting fixtures had been constituted of plane components.”

Credit score…Mimi Kennedy

Though Mr. Bramhall met with Mr. Steinman in Manhattan and helped him choose and place the paintings, “Jim by no means noticed the home till it was performed,” he stated. “It was a enjoyable and attention-grabbing mission. I haven’t performed something prefer it since.”

The unique a part of the home — brilliant and sunny — consists of 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 finish of the home represented normalcy to him,” Ms. Dillon stated.

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 might take heed to music, watch a TV present and kind a letter” all of sudden, Ms. Dillon stated. “His thoughts by no means stopped working.”

The “good room” — to not be confused with the good room — holds certainly one of his wheelchairs, which he wanted after struggling a collection of strokes. After all, “it was a loopy wheelchair, like a Batmobile,” Mr. Sonenberg stated.

Mr. Steinman referred to the unused visitor room because the “Wendy Bed room,” after the heroine of “Peter Pan.” The plush bear on the mattress hails from the Nice Ormond Avenue 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 crammed with elaborate and peculiar artwork and artifacts, begins with the Ring Room, a small, oval area unfurnished save for sculptures on the partitions, that are a shade 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 candy cottage into this different universe, which is modeled after Steinman’s imaginative and prescient,” Mr. Sonenberg stated. “Jim was essentially the most weird man, however he was the sweetest and funniest and most beneficiant. He was the one 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’d suppose you had been in Bonwit Teller,” Mr. Sonenberg stated.

Parallel to the wardrobe hallway is a protracted hall resulting in the good 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 dwelling and last resting place of his idol, the composer Richard Wagner, whose operas enthralled him from childhood. The room can be adorned with gadgets 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 good room, centered round a chrome steel sculpture resembling a cluster of big 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 skill to play all of the components on the piano,” Ms. Dillon stated. “It nearly seemed 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 typically used the tiny kitchenette off the good room, stocked with contemporary fruit and cans of Progresso soup. He was a fan of scorching sauce, candy soda and chewy sweet. “Once I visited him for the primary time in his dwelling, he had these containers of gummy bears from the pick-n-mix choice at Dean & DeLuca for $12.99 a pound,” Ms. Dillon stated. “Each month, we might get a invoice.”

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 crammed the storage with copies of his packages and Playbills. “He preferred stuff,” Ms. Dillon stated.

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.

“Each home wants its personal strategy, whether or not it’s a $500,000 dwelling or a $5 million dwelling,” she stated. “You actually have to search out your viewers.”

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