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50% markdown for Katharine Hepburn's storied 'paradise'

Photos: Katharine Hepburn's 'paradise' in Fenwick, Connecticut
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Just about a century ago, when Katharine Hepburn was 5, her father discovered this place in Fenwick, Connecticut.

And for just about a century, until her death there in June 2003, her home in Fenwick remained "paradise" to her -- perhaps all the more after a hurricane swept the original house out to sea. The young actress, then in her early 30s, and the rest of her family set to fashioning a new dream home, first from toy F.A.O. Schwarz building blocks and then, when they'd agreed on a plan, from the stolid brick that still stands today.

Now it's on the market again, having been purchased and extensively renovated by a New York builder whose other past restoration projects include St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Guggenheim Museum. (Click here for a slideshow of Katharine Hepburn's former home.)

The property has seen some wild price swings. It landed on the market the autumn after Hepburn's death at an eyebrow-raising $12 million, but after a few months the price was lowered to $8 million. "The house has a reputation for being a little quirky and rough around the edges," the New York Times wrote. "The year after it was built, it settled slightly into its current, slightly tilted position, though it has not moved since, and the bathroom and kitchen need some updating."

The eventual buyer, builder Frank Sciame, paid $6 million for it in the summer of 2004. His renovations included hoisting the whole thing up 5 feet to thwart flooding (while leaving the original masonry intact, the local Shoreline Times reported), plus opening up the home to light and waterfront views. The original house was "cut up into tiny little rooms," listing agent Colette Harron of William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty told the Shoreline paper in 2011. In modernizing the home, Sciame "saved it," she said simply.

Sciame listed the renovated property and 3.5 surrounding acres in 2011, then raised the price to $30 million after winning permission to build a 3,000-square-foot house on one of the property's three lots. After two years, he pulled the property off the market, telling the Hartford (Ct.) Courant: "I'm not going to sell it for less than the asking price."

Now he has relisted the Hepburn home at $14.8 million -- but this time with only 1.5 acres. He intends to hang onto the other two lots for now; he told the Wall Street Journal that he might keep the 3,000-square-foot house for his own family vacations, and he intends to build another house on the third lot.

Click here or on a photo to see a slideshow with many more details about Hepburn and her beloved Connecticut home — where her suitor Howard Hughes would visit in his seaplane, landing right on the beach, and where she and Spencer Tracy would later find privacy among friends who'd known her all her life.

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