Real Estate

A Gothic Rock Cottage Fit for a Bat Out of Hell

Jim Steinman, who died final yr at 73, left behind probably the most 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 teen.

“So far as Jim was involved, life was about being eternally younger, and lusting after this and craving after that,” mentioned David Sonenberg, Mr. Steinman’s longtime pal, supervisor and now the executor of his property. “He was going to be 17 eternally, 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, remodeling 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 one in every of a sort,” Mr. Sonenberg mentioned. “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 completed with the home after his demise. Now his longtime mates are placing the property up for sale — with a provision: It’s being offered “as-is,” which in actual property lingo usually means “in horrible situation.” 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 information, grand piano, even closets filled with clothes.

“We’re going to attempt to maintain Jim’s imaginative and prescient and legacy intact,” mentioned Jacqueline Dillon, Mr. Steinman’s longtime inventive 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. ft, has simply two bedrooms — to a musician, artist or author, or somebody searching for a inventive retreat or efficiency house. The asking worth is $5,555,569 — the $69 is a tribute to Mr. Steinman’s beloved Amherst School, 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 sort, 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,, 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 mentioned.

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 via Ridgefield, he noticed the house on a secluded lot of about 1.5 acres and thought it might be excellent for his pal.

“The home was so charming,” mentioned Mr. Sonenberg, whose personal inventive desires had been dashed after he met Mr. Steinman within the Seventies. “I wrote a tune known as ‘Pear Tree within the Shade,’” he mentioned. “Jim wrote a tune known as ‘Whole 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 change into one of many best-selling albums of the Nineteen Nineties.

Mr. Sonenberg steered that Mr. Steinman purchase the Ridgefield home: “I mentioned, ‘It’s excellent — you’re by your self, you by no means have any company.’ And he mentioned 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 simply 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’s actually particular, nearly otherworldly,” mentioned Laura Freed Ancona, the itemizing agent, of William Pitt Sotheby’s Worldwide Realty. “Sure, it was a roof over Jim’s head. But it surely was additionally a inventive house for him.”

Ms. Ancona mentioned the plan now’s to start out with personal and group showings, and to succeed in out to numerous arts and cultural organizations, on the lookout for a possible purchaser. “We need to solid as extensive a web as potential,” she mentioned.

The home, Mr. Sonenberg mentioned, could possibly be offered 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 known 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 critical robust musical dramatic works” was one thing “I actually assume I can do higher than anybody I’ve ever come throughout or heard about.”)

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

“He lived the lifetime of the thoughts,” Mr. Baron mentioned. “He had this extraordinary stage of creativity. He was really good. All of his life vitality was in that keyboard.”

After Mr. Steinman began making critical cash, he purchased a two-bedroom residence in a postwar co-op overlooking Central Park. That’s the place he met Bonnie Tyler, who would high 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 dwelling principally 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 mentioned. “He was at all times being requested to go to folks’s exhibits. Leaving the town eliminated him from having to do numerous issues. He didn’t go to large occasions. He let his artwork do the speaking.”

He known as the Ridgefield cottage “the home that ‘Bat II’ constructed,” 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 “Magnificence 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 received his sensibility.”

The model was English Cotswolds. “Jim wished the gables, from left to proper, to change into barely bigger,” he mentioned. “I bear in mind doing skull-and-crossbones for the taps within the powder room off the nice room. Among the wall lighting fixtures had been made out of plane elements.”

Credit score…Mimi Kennedy

Though Mr. Bramhall met with Mr. Steinman in Manhattan and helped him choose and place the art work, “Jim by no means noticed the home till it was completed,” he mentioned. “It was a enjoyable and fascinating challenge. I haven’t completed something prefer it since.”

The unique a part of the home — vivid and sunny — contains a big front room 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 popular the darkish.

“That finish of the home 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 popular 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 exhibits, Yankees video games and “Jeopardy!”

“He may take heed to music, watch a TV present and kind a letter” abruptly, Ms. Dillon mentioned. “His thoughts by no means 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. In fact, “it was a loopy wheelchair, like a Batmobile,” Mr. Sonenberg mentioned.

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 Road Hospital for Kids, in London, which owns the mental property rights to “Peter Pan” and denied Mr. Steinman’s request to stage a rock musical primarily based 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 house unfurnished save for sculptures on the partitions, that are a colour Mr. Steinman known as obsidian blue. (Obsidian was the identify 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 mentioned. “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 assume you had been 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 just 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 big 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 remaining resting place of his idol, the composer Richard Wagner, whose operas enthralled him from childhood. The room can also 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 point of interest, the nice room, centered round a stainless-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 means to play all of the elements on the piano,” Ms. Dillon mentioned. “It nearly gave the impression of 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 high, with a skylight and studying chair.

Mr. Steinman usually used the tiny kitchenette off the nice room, stocked with recent 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 mentioned. “Each month, we’d 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 an alternative, he stuffed the storage with copies of his applications and Playbills. “He appreciated 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 on the lookout for one thing stunning and slightly unusual.

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

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