In only one week, workers from Block Design Build have started roof installation in order to prevent further weather damage to the Randall House. | Michael Souza/The Press
March 27, 2015 05:41AM
By MICHAEL SOUZA
Sun Staff Writer
NORTH STONINGTON — One of the oldest homes in the area is being saved, much to the delight of local historians.
Randall’s Ordinary, the old inn and restaurant that hasn’t operated for almost a decade, has been sold to Carla and Rodolfo Bartolucci for $700,000 by the Mashantucket Tribe. Even better, the couple plans to treat the property with the respect a truly historical parcel deserves.
Located at 41 Norwich-Westerly Road, Randall’s Ordinary has a special connection with the new owners.
“I’m originally from New London and my husband from Italy, and we had eaten there many times in the past,” said Carla Bartolucci. Her husband, an Italian native, appreciated the setting. Presently, the couple splits its time between Italy and Connecticut.
“We loved it and it reminded us of the time we had spent in Italy — the farm, the open hearth. We would bring family and friends there and thought it was the best,” she said Monday in a phone interview from Italy.
For the last 20 years the couple has built a successful business on selling healthy food alternatives under the “Jovial” name, and two of their brands have received national distribution. Their company has also expanded to hosting cooking seminars and vacations in an 18th-century villa in central Italy.
A similar plan is in store for the Ordinary.
“It is a beautiful property and we want to make it our headquarters. We recognize its history and have every intention of fixing it right,” she said.
The company’s current home base is North Franklin.
“It’s wonderful news. I’m very excited,” said resident Mary Riley. Her family roots date back to the first settlers of Newport in 1630. “The house was built by my seventh great grandmother and great grandfather and one of their parents.”
What is properly called the “Randall House” was constructed in 1685. The homestead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was believed to be a hiding place for slaves journeying along the Underground Railroad and the house is listed on the Connecticut Freedom Trail as such.
Also on the land is a 32-foot-high barn, transplanted from New York State and originally built in 1819, and a private cemetery.
“It is so nice to know that the property is now in the hands of someone that wants to restore it,” Riley said.
“The process of getting the property has taken about a year,” Carla Bartolucci said. “One of the problems was the condition of the Randall House. It really could have used a new roof years ago and some of the side walls were leaking. We knew we had to make extensive repairs and that affected the price.”
Rehabilitation work began last week when Block Design Build of Hadlyme began cleaning the site.
“The Randall House was in poor condition, we had to clean everything out of it,” said Erik Block, owner of the company. “The roof and side wall are not in good condition, but Carla wants to do things right. It’s been cleaned and the doors and windows sealed. An asphalt-shingle roof will go up immediately to stop the leaking and preserve what’s left. It will eventually be replaced by a wooden shingle roof.”
“We’ve done the same to the east wall. We’ve made some temporary repairs to stop the water damage for now but a more historical repair must be done in the future,” Block said.
Until 2006, Randall’s Ordinary operated a unique inn and restaurant, giving guests a 17th century experience with open-hearth Colonial cooking served by staff dressed in period clothing.
The Bartolucci family will restore the buildings, construct a new test kitchen, plant a fruit orchard while expanding the existing one and a field of einkorn, one of their specialty crops. In time will come culinary getaways, farmers markets, cooking classes and a craft brewery.
“We feel very good about the purchase,” said Mary Bishop, the treasurer and newsletter editor of the North Stonington Historical Society.
“For years it has sat there and there wasn’t anything that could be done. The Bartolucci’s are very serious in rehabilitating the buildings and bringing back the inn,” she said. “We are looking forward to seeing the tradition of the Ordinary Inn and Restaurant return.”
Originally purchased a decade ago for $1.4 million, the Mashantuckets sold it for half that amount on March 10.