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Westporters Hunt Houses as a Hobby

Westport residents Tom and Nancy Broadbent don't need to watch reality television shows like "Flip This House" to get their home improvement fix. In fact, they should have their own show to show off the work they've done on their 1938 International-style home.

Five years ago, Tom and Nancy purchased the 20-room home, including bathrooms, with 10,500 square feet of space at 126 Morningside Drive S. But before they bought it, the house had sat empty for about two years and had fallen into disrepair.

"The flat roof, windows and doors leaked everywhere, the floors were stained, raccoons lived in the house, coyotes and foxes roamed the yard, there were tree trunks all over the yard," said Tom, director of Expense Reduction Analysts .

With that laundry list of problems, what possessed them to buy this house, which was slated for demolition? For starters, Tom and Nancy like a challenge: They've renovated three 1700s-era homes, including 66 Compo Road N., a former Historic Preservation winner.

"I was over the old antique stuff and wanted to do something modern," said Nancy, an investment banker. "There was so much potential, I said, 'We've got to get our hands on it.'"

Unlike Nancy, Tom said he wanted to run from the house, despite their experience in doing renovations. But Nancy helped him to see the bigger picture, he said.

Plus, the spectacular view of Long Island Sound and spacious backyard didn't hurt.

Having never worked on a Modern-style home before, Tom and Nancy said this is "absolutely, 100 percent" their most challenging project yet. Since they bought the house, about 80 percent of it, including the backyard, has been renovated.

"It's stressful always, but you know you're adding value and adding your own footprint," Nancy said. "Plus, it's not wasteful: We saved a perfectly good house from being knocked down."

Having not only saved, but also restored, the house built for Florimonde Du Sossoit Duke, Tom and Nancy are among nine recipients of the 2010 Historic Preservation Award, presented by the Historic District Commission .

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