While Madame Huguette Marcelle Clark retreated to the hospitals of New York during the last two decades of her life, 104 Dan’s Highway lay empty, tucked away on 52 acres of sprawling space in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Now, just over a year after the copper heiress passed away at 104 years old, the land is on the market for a hefty $17 million and in the hands of the Public Administrators Office of New York City.
Wildlife in Crisis, an organization catering to Fairfield County that is dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and land, has grown concerned for the land’s future and is in no hurry to see another suburb or shopping center erected on the undeveloped land.
“There are so few like spaces this left in intact,” said Wildlife in Crisis Director Dara Reid, “Fifty-two acres in New Canaan is a very large chunk of land in this day and age. Many wild animals live on that land and it’s a very diverse habitat - from hemlock to deciduous trees and fields to dense woodland; and it’s right on the river.”
Such a rich environment has also become home to an abundance of woodland creatures.
“It has become a refuge for a diverse array of wild species,” said Reid, “Everything from hummingbirds, several species of owls, rare amphibians, wood ducks, fox and many other native species call this estate home. If that land is developed, there’s really no place for them to go. It’s not adjacent to any reserves - just subdivisions - and they may not survive.”
Ideally, Reid says Wildlife in Crisis would like the land to be donated and preserved; however, she says that Public Administrators of New York are in no position to do such a thing; therefore, the not-for-profit organization is hoping to raise money from like-minded individuals who wish to see the land remain undeveloped. No funds have been raised thus far.
Another concern for Reid is heirs to the Clark estate.
“I have no idea how we’ll get in touch with them,” said Reid
, which left nothing to her family, became heated in the months after her death with family members attempting to contest Clark's wishes.
Clark Estate neighbor and Preservation Committee member Jeff Stevens made his stance clear on the situation, stating, “Please help The Wildlife in Crisis Land Trust preserve this unspoiled land which is a refuge for countless wild animals.”
"Time is running out to save this property from development," said Reid.
The price tag on Clark Estate has gone down several times, said Reid, however there are still no iminent buyers.
Interested parties should contact Dara Reid via the Wildlife in Crisis email or by phone at 203-544-9913.
For more information on the life of the mysterious Madame Clark, read the investigative report by NBC News' Bill Dedman.