As a little kid in Pound Ridge, the first I ever heard of Superman, was in the context of there being a real guy...who had fallen off a horse and was paralyzed in a wheelchair...who lived in Bedford...who was a dad just like mine...who had a boy who was only a couple of years older than me...who lived on the same street as three of my friends - all really close to home for me. That boy was Will Reeve and, although we didn’t know each other, I felt a definite empathy for him when his dad Chris passed, and an even deeper pain when his mom died of cancer less than two years later. Like everyone touched by the story, I’ve rooted for Will, and was pretty blown when he started at Good Morning America! Will became an Instagram sensation after having accidentally appeared on GMA in his underwear - he insists they were his running shorts - at the beginning of the pandemic. Will Reeve’s story is as positive and local as it gets!
This issue’s feature on Art @ The Glass House is an inside look at the amazing paintings and sculpture housed in two relatively obscure buildings on the property at The Glass House, Phillip Johnson’s masterpiece in New Canaan. We knew it would be interesting to bring the collection to light...and then we found hidden treasure!
Since Covid remains, we thought it would be fun to start covering local escapes, that can be launched from home, and that can be accomplished in a socially distanced way. I got a ‘ticket to ride’ in The Porsche Driving Experience up at Lime Rock - and hope it makes you feel like you got out of the house and out onto the track - or at least gives you the impetus to take a road trip of your own.
And our local charity feature in this issue is on Debbie McQuilkin and The Storm hockey team of the American Special Hockey Association she founded and runs. As I’ve noted before, it’s my hope that after reading each issue of Bedford & New Canaan Magazine each reader will take a moment to think positive, take stock of our community, and consider some act of giving to a local charity or other good cause. We hope you will consider giving to The Storm - and that maybe one or a few readers decide to adopt McQuilkin’s mission.
Again, our magazine is mailed to you - for free! We’re grateful for the reviews we receive. Please let our advertisers know that seeing their ad in our magazine motivated you. Please go online at bedfordnewcanaanmag.com and to our Instagram @bedfordnewcanaanmag, and let us know what you like and don’t like, or if you have an idea about something local we should cover.
SAHSA LAWER & MARK NOONAN
When Sasha Lawer and Mark Noonan got off the train in New Canaan one Spring morning in 1999, Sasha gave the tall order to Mark, like Oz telling Dorothy to go get the Wicked Witch’s broom: “I’m not moving from our New York City townhouse unless it’s to a very special home. I want great old architectural elements, big rooms with plenty of light, a pool, lots of land for the kids to play, and complete privacy...all walkable to Starbucks!” She figured the tall order would keep the family safely in their New York City townhouse forever. Instead, they bid on 55 St. John Place - known as ‘Acorn Hill’ - before getting back on the train that evening...and have now enjoyed over two decades as the ‘owners in residence’ of this beautiful estate.
Mark, now 61, who grew up in an Irish/Italian family in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, played soccer at Lawrence High School and at Duke, where he preceded his daughter Kyra, before getting his MBA at Wharton, was enjoying a successful career in investment banking at UBS in Stamford, when he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in 2001. Emerging after one-and-a-half years of treatment, not knowing how much more time he had, Mark realized he was “bored to tears in banking, and didn’t want to spend the rest of my time just working in someone else’s business - and miss seeing my children grow up. I determined I could put my skill set as a tinkerer to work building products that make life easier”. Seventeen years and dozens of inventions later, Mark’s latest is a complex hardware and software package enabling remote nursing care. His company, Nootools, LLC, manufactures Noonan’s own product designs and offers new product consulting. Mark reflects, “my cancer changed our stars”.
The next change in plans came in 2017, when the Napa Valley Tubb’s Lane Fire engulfed the Lawer Estates Knights Valley Vineyards, owned by Sasha’s brother and sister-in-law, David and Betsy Lawer, on the heels of her brother being physically incapacitated. Sasha had already been charged with increasing distribution and sales for the emerging winery, but when the series of unfortunate events occurred, Sasha determined to take on a greater role. Betsy Lawer, President of Lawer Estates, runs the acclaimed California winery from Alaska, where she is the CEO and Chairman of the First National Bank of Alaska. While Sasha, splitting her time between New Canaan and California, more directly oversees the winemakers and has managed the development of the winery’s marketing, sales and distribution, and opened a Calistoga tasting room.
A second building, one of New Canaan’s prized remaining antique barns, includes a 3-car garage, greenhouse, potting area, half-bath, and a pool house (currently used as an additional home office). An additional open 1,000 square feet above the garage is also available for a separate apartment, great room or offices, and there are architectural plans and an open permit for creating this extra living area.
‘Terroir’ is a word that means the whole environment in which a wine grows, including climate, topography and soil, and is used by winemakers to reference the characteristic tastes and flavors that each wine gets from the ‘terroir’ where its grapes are grown.
Lawer Estates calls their single-vineyard ultra-premium wines ‘terroir driven’, and boasts that their 110-acre vineyards in Napa and Sonoma have “...the ideal terroir and microclimates to nurture a diverse range of varietals... On summer days, coastal breezes make their way through the gap in the hills and up the creek that meanders through our vineyard. This cooling infuses our wines with unmistakable character. Complementing this ideal microclimate is a subterranean volcanic reservoir that nurtures our vines year-round, and provides essential hydration even in times of drought”.
Winemakers Cary Gott and Kelly DeIanni take great pride in handcrafting the sustainably grown, limited annual production of about 3,000 cases in all of Lawer’s seven varietals. Lawer Estates Rosé has been heralded by Wine Enthusiast as one of the five best Rosés from California, while Robert Parker has awarded Lawer Estates Viognier with 92 points. The wines are currently available at Walter Stewarts, New Canaan Wine Merchants, Sipsters in Darien, and other fine wine stores, and can be purchased online at lawerestates.com.
Sadly, there will be no 2020 vintage. Lawer Estates prides itself in only producing the highest quality wines. The smoke taint from both the Hennessy and Glass fires of 2020 have caused the Lawers to halt any further production from their 2020 harvest, as even the slightest hint of phenols such as guaiacol are not acceptable in a Lawer Estates wine.
55 St. John Place is offered at $3,495,000 by Hannelore & Co./Raveis (914-450-3880 / Hannelore.Kaplan@raveis.com)...a true find for the couple, or young family, or big family, or extended family...who want to be the new ‘owners in residence’, and the next lucky people to enjoy this unique and spectacular, walk-to-town, historic mansion.
“Sam’s been with The Storm for 9 years, the first 6 as a player, and now as a mentor. He processes slowly, but he’s really determined. He likes to be around for his brother, Mikey, who has Ataxia and can hardly walk and struggles to stay up on his skates, but who is sharp as a whip. They love being able to do this together. The Storm has been a blessing for us! It’s the highlight of the week for my boys and, in different ways, has been critical for each of them.”
-Dr. Harvey Bluestein (Sam & 'Sweaty' Mike's Dad)
The Storm has an expensive piece of equipment called a Kaye Trainer, which holds an athlete in a sling over the ice and allows as much gravitational pressure to be placed on the legs as desired. That’s ‘Sweaty’ Mike Bluestein getting out on the ice in “The K”.
By: Rachael Palacios
Chris C. Shaffer Hudson
Most in the area are familiar with the gem that is The Glass House; Philip Johnson’s modernist landmark residence gracing the New Canaan landscape. Few, however, may be aware of the treasures buried deep, quite literally, beneath the bucolic compound.
by: Michael Kaplan
The Puccis are… lifesavers. They are the very best people. They are my adoptive parents, my guardians, my counselors, my cheerleaders. They are the reason that I was able to emerge from the darkest period of my life – relatively unscathed.
I didn’t think I had the skill set, temperament or patience to go into production, and I’ve always loved to tell stories and write and entertain and perform. I’ve always felt comfortable with public speaking.
In my second summer as an intern at GMA, I stuck around late about once a week or so, and became good friends with the camera crew and stage managers. I would show up with a suit on, and ask the team
Then there was this one time I remember I was anchoring, and during commercial break I noticed the floor crew, the producers in my ear, the cameramen, my co-anchor - they were all doing their own thing, focusing on whatever was up next in the show. Nobody was treating me with kid gloves. I had a moment where I was looking around the studio, and I said to myself ‘Wow… I’m a part of this… they’re treating me as an equal and I am doing this’. And it wasn’t just a dream. That was a really special moment for me. I’m doing the thing that I’ve really always wanted to do.
I was moved by the experience of covering the California wildfires last year. We were right in the thick of things and I got a real appreciation for the tremendous work the firefighters are doing.
And then there’s the universe of fun and different assignments! ...I’ve gotten to climb glaciers, and descend to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. I’ve travelled far and wide. I’ve interviewed Will Farrell and Julia Louis Dryfus together, and Billie Eilish. Every day is a new opportunity, and I have to pinch myself and remind myself that this is real.
Throughout 2019, Bobby and I worked meticulously to plan each aspect of what was going to be our perfect day. Feeling that we’d chosen the best vendors for a rather lavish wedding, we were psyched to celebrate in June of 2020. We could envision our ceremony on the vast manicured grounds of the Country Club of New Canaan, and a reception in the high-ceilinged ballroom.