Published: December 9, 2008
An iconic Mid-Century Modern home was tragically destroyed when a multialarm fire ripped through the 1950s structure over the night of November 27. The owner-occupants, Clay Rotolo and Karen Marquis, antiques dealers specializing in furnishings and accessories from the 1950s through the 1980s, were asleep in the home when the fire broke out and were able to escape. Both occupants received serious burns and required hospitalization.
The fire was reported by a neighbor and it is thought to have started after a stovepipe from a built-in woodstove/fireplace ignited materials between the ceiling and the roof. Marquis commented that the stove had already been used on several occasions this season, but she, too, suspected that it was the probable cause of the fire.
The classic pink stucco home located on Candlewood Lake Road was well known to many regional collectors as a pristine unrestored example of Mid-Century architecture. Basically fully intact, as designed and custom built in the 1950s, the home retained everything from the original windows and doors to the original kitchen cabinets, flooring and countertops.
The single-story bilevel home was fully engulfed with flames when the fire department arrived sometime after 9 pm. Flames were reported to have been shooting upwards over the tops of the fully mature trees that surrounded the home as the fire department attempted to get the blaze under control. Fire departments from throughout neighboring Danbury and Newtown were called to the scene to assist. Both the home and the contents have been described as a total loss with only a couple exterior block walls still standing.
Marquis and Rotolo both received burns to their hands and heads, but counted themselves lucky. “We lost absolutely everything,” commented a frail and tearful Marquis this past Sunday, “Our shoes, socks, clothes; everything is gone.” Along with their personal belongings, their extensive private collection of Mid-Century furnishings, that decorated the home, was totally destroyed. Additionally, a large portion of the inventory for their antiques business, Marquis Modern, was stored at the home and was also completely destroyed.
The dealer commented that she awoke to the sound of smoke detectors and opened the bedroom door to discover the house choked with smoke and erupting in flames. “All we could do was get out,” she said, “but thankfully we are alive. If it had been a minute longer before I got up to see what was going on, we wouldn’t have made it.”
“People have been just wonderful,” commented Marquis, “at a time like this you realize how many friends you really have and how much those people really care about you.” As of press-time, it was unclear where donations should be directed. Marquis can be contacted at 203-740-2428.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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