Effort Launched To Save Charles Ives’ Redding Home

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Composer Charles Ives' home on Umpawaug Road in West Redding is for sale, and fans of the Danbury native's music are hoping to save it from developers. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

DANBURY, Conn. – Efforts are continuing to try to save the West Redding home of composer Charles Edward Ives, the American musician known for his modernist compositions who was born in Danbury.

The house, located on Umpawaug Road in the rolling hills of West Redding, is for sale by members of the Ives family for $1.5 million. Though it is not publicly listed for sale, builders are reportedly interested in the property for a new development, which means the house could be torn down.

Enter the Charles Ives Society, a group dedicated to preserving the works of the composer and among those who are trying to save the home. Additionally, concert cellist and performance artist Zoe Martlew also has drawn attention to the cause.

"The building itself is so wonderfully built,” Gayle Sherwood Magee, president of the Charles Ives Society, recently told the Wall Street Journal. Magee is an assistant professor of musicology at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois. “What we'd like is to have that be a living, working space going forward.”

Ives, who died in 1954, has been referred to as America’s Beethoven, Mozart or Brahms. He was born in 1874 in Danbury, and he composed much of his renowned works in the West Redding house, which was his country home.

The Danbury home where Ives was born has been preserved as a museum, under the direction of the Danbury Museum and Historical Society.

But raising more than $1.5 million – besides the purchase price, the home will need some renovation work and operating money – will not be easy. Nik Ragusa, part of the online music database Arts Avenue, has started a fundraising website. As of Thursday, only $40 had been donated, according to the site.

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