Westport Digital Studios, Inc. in Connecticut was leased by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia from 1998 to 2004. The studios were housed in a 1929 office building and warehouse, which Martha converted into one of the most beautiful television studios ever built. Prior to leasing this building, Martha filmed her television show on her personal properties: Turkey Hill in Connecticut and Lily Pond in East Hampton. Her private kitchens and gardens were the backdrop to her teaching segments. The new space, however, allowed Martha to greatly expand her television production team.
The studio included three sound stages, a broadcast-ready control room, a shoot-ready prep kitchen with stainless work surfaces, radio broadcast facilities where her Ask Martha segments were taped, editing suites, offices, a guest cottage for overnight housing, an on-site gym featuring an entertainment system, a cafeteria and 8.5 acres of wooded grounds, aesthetically maintained for outdoor filming with multiple barbecue grills. Two primary kitchen studios were designed to film the cooking segments; Studio B was based on Martha's kitchen at Turkey Hill Road and Studio A, shown below in the top photograph, was based on her Lily Pond Lane kitchen on Lond Island. Studio C featured the 'home' vignettes: a living room, two dining rooms and a craft room. All were all designed by Martha to replicate rooms in her own homes.
The studio spaces were designed by a company called Meridian Design Associates and built by contractor Structure Tone Inc., a construction firm that operates across the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia. Structure Tone worked with Martha and her production team to ensure all of the requirements were met to Martha's exact specifications. On its website, Structure Tone breaks down the design:
The new 32,000 square-foot space included two 2,000 square-foot stage kitchens, a 1,000 square-foot prep kitchen, a 500 square-foot commissary with seating for 40, fully equipped gym and post production and office support facilities. Representatives of Martha Stewart Living preferred natural gas instead of electric or propane for cooking purposes. Since natural gas was not currently in this area of Connecticut, our staff worked closely with Yankee Gas to bring the service to the building to supply the kitchen equipment and new HVAC system. In addition, Ms. Stewart requested the ability to change the kitchen set-up in the main studio. With all the necessary hook ups for kitchens, including connections for gas, water and vent lines, our staff installed six separate valve locations under the studio floor. These lines facilitate quick and easy changes to the kitchen layout.
You can watch Martha give a tour of this space by clicking here in an episode of Martha Stewart Living from 1998. I would like to thank Joseph Patz for editing this video specifically for this post and for your enjoyment. I think it is a treasure to have this video link. In it, Martha takes you through the studios, inch by inch, drawer by drawer. It is a marvelous tour. Thank you again, Joseph!