There is little doubt that the town of Weston is replete with beautiful historic homes. But among them, on the shores of what locals call Crystal Lake, stands a particular gem, which Dolores and Alex Spitzer have lovingly tended for the last twenty-five years. The property has historic ties to prominent local families and famed artists. The home, built in 1810, has seen many changes, including a bevy of owners, renovations and the construction of what is officially named Held Pond. There is little doubt that the town of Weston is replete with beautiful historic homes. But among them, on the shores of what locals call Crystal Lake, stands a particular gem, which Dolores and Alex Spitzer have lovingly tended for the last twenty-five years. The property has historic ties to prominent local families and famed artists. The home, built in 1810, has seen many changes, including a bevy of owners, renovations and the construction of what is officially named Held Pond.
By the time the Spitzers acquired the house in the early 1990s, the grounds had been through the wringer. On the lower plateau of the lawn was a piled-high mountain of boulders, remnants of the previous owner’s construction projects. Many of the historic plantings that had once existed had been ripped up. “I think that the property was not maintained,” Dolores says, “so, unfortunately, we couldn’t revive any of the old plantings. We really had to start from scratch.”
Dolores, who had always had an interest in gardening, now had plenty of room to play and experiment, and she focused on bringing the grounds back to life. Even Alex got in on the action, using cuttings to plant the ivy and wisteria seen throughout the property. Magnolia and cherry trees now line the drive to the house, bathing guests in a wash of petals as they approach the house. Lilacs, azaleas and hydrangeas (Dolores’ favorite) add to the lush mosaic. “The color palette is very soft, mostly pinks, purples, whites and yellows,” she says. With the help of longtime gardener Ozvaldo Palazio, she shops for, selects and installs new additions. When she needs a stroke of inspiration, she turns to her favorite jewelry pieces designed by artist Wendy Gell.
Exploring the garden, Dolores’ artistic taste is evident, with planters shaped like women’s heads carefully placed throughout the grounds, quietly keeping watch. “The first time I saw them, we had been in Positano. We went to one of the hotels and on the patio, they had these pottery heads. I went crazy looking for them.” Over the years, she collected several lovely ladies from various sources. If they break, she incorporates the pieces into the flower beds themselves, much like a Roman ruin. Another artistic focal point is the unusual character lounging on the patio, affectionately referred to as Nessie. The Spitzers commissioned the late Bob Epstein to create the work for their previous home, and Nessie has been enjoying sunsets over the water ever since.
After ten years of restoring the gardens and the historical integrity of the home itself, the Spitzers looked outward to expand their living space. The couple had always envisioned a pool on that lower plateau, once filled with boulders, and timed the addition so two outbuildings could be constructed simultaneously. Along with planning the pool, Dolores designed the pool houses in the Victorian-era style. “The vision was to have two buildings and two planting beds, so that when you looked out of those buildings, you would see gardens.”
Now, the pool house kitchen is Dolores’ favorite spot to pass time in the balmy summer, overlooking the flower beds and the expanse of lawn rolling down to the water. “Our way of living here is very informal, and I felt that the grounds should reflect how we live, as opposed to something very restrictive,” she says. Despite many years of sore knees and dirty hands, the Spitzers wouldn’t trade their thoughtful restoration for a turn-key experience, explaining that “everything about this property, inside and out, is a labor of love.”