Stamford CT Historic Luxury Homes: Marion Castle

One of the most beautiful historic luxury homes in Stamford Connecticut is Marion Castle, built in 1914 by Frank Marion, one of the early pioneers of film. This stunning neo-French Renaissance waterfront castle on One Rogers Road, Shippan Point exemplifies the era of Stamford’s rise in the early 20th century from a farming community to the residences of wealthy New York families throughout the year.

Marion Castle was built by one of the first true movie moguls, Frank Marion, whose Kalem Company produced some of the first reels to be shown in nickelodeons and silent theaters across the country. His first big hit was Ben Hur in 1907, which lasted fifteen minutes and focused primarily on chariot racing. The film was shot on the beach with firefighters as actors using the horses that generally pulled the fire trucks pulling the carts.

Ben Hur was one of the most popular novels of its time and the film was an immediate success. Frank Marion proved to be not only a good businessman, but also a social conscience when he increased the daily salary of actors to five dollars a day, forcing the rest of the emerging film industry to do the same.

However, Marion was at the forefront of what was at the time the emerging technology of her day. Ben Hur’s publisher and author’s estate took the company all the way to the US Supreme Court and set the first copyright precedent that, although the film only focused on the chariot race, it was a very short part of the book, the producers of motion pictures. They must first obtain the rights to the printed work before they can produce a film based on that work.

Undaunted, Marion’s Kalem Company made film history by sending a team to Ireland in 1910 to make what was the first American film to be shot outside the United States. Two years later, he sent a camera crew to Palestine, where From the Manger To the Cross was filmed.

These films were very successful, he sold the company after ten years in the movie business and built Marion Castle as his retirement home for the enjoyment of his wife, son, and four daughters.

Marion Castle was designed in the style of a French Renaissance castle by the prominent New York City-based architectural firm Hunt & Hunt, which had made this style very popular on Fifth Avenue at the turn of the century. The Château de Marion is a compound of several castles in the Loire Valley.

It features a steep slate roof with copper ridges that rise above the main body of the mansion. The front face has large dormers with high pediments bordered by finials. A gabled wing facing the sea has a large triple window with mullions and transom bars and steps leading down to the slope.

On the north side of the house, a long half-timbered bay projects from the main wall leading to a circular tower giving it its distinctive “castle” look. The interior includes a main hall with balconies and nearly thirty additional rooms of various sizes and uses.

Frank Marion built and occupied Marion Castle until his death at age 93 in 1963. The property was later sold to Martha and David Cogan, an inventor and leader in the development of radio and television who helped develop the first tube. color television. Martha was widely known and respected for saving many children from Hitler during WWII.

In 1978, Jay Kobrin and Gordon Micunis purchased Marion Castle and were highly influential in its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, the only structure at Stamford’s Shippan Point listed on the Register.

Since 1998, Marion Castle has been owned and occupied by Thomas L. Rich, a well known Stamford real estate developer. Rich has allowed the house to be used extensively for non-profit events, such as the Shippan Point Association’s annual community party.

Today, Frank Marion’s beautiful historic waterfront luxury home is one of Stamford CT’s most distinctive landmarks. Having been owned by several innovative civic-minded entrepreneurs, Marion Castle continues to be the focal point of many of the city’s important community and social events.

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