A few years after they were married, Jennifer and Fotis Dulos moved to Farmington, a Connecticut town perched, in the way of a balance, halfway between Boston and New York. Two hours this way for pizza, two hours that way for chowder. As a suburb of Hartford, that old industrial city, Farmington is like a planet that has outlived the death of its sun. It has in fact prospered—it’s the home of Otis Elevator and United Technologies—making it a perfect spot for Fotis to base his home-building business, which he operated out of an office in his red-brick mansion, at 4 Jefferson Crossing.

There are streets of antique Victorian houses in Farmington, dormers, porticoes, porches, gables. In the summer, ivy creeps up the walls in a dogged attempt to reclaim it all for the earth. The town itself, which is very large and very old, is set in a great valley with hills and meadows on one side and woods on the other. The Farmington River flows through the center of it. There’s lots of water in the valley, which made it as attractive to its earliest settlers as to one of its more recent. To the English who came here in the 1600s, the lakes and streams were ideal for farming. To Fotis Dulos, who arrived in 2012, the lakes and streams were ideal for water sports—swimming, motorboating, and, best of all, waterskiing.