Calling all dreamers looking for a place to live out their vision just outside New York, because the largest privately-owned property in Westchester County has come to the market for the first time in over half a century. We take a look at what is a spectacular home in breathtakingly pretty countryside that is full of potential.
Phrases such as ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ tend to get tossed around fairly liberally in the world of property. After all, pretty much every house sale is unique, in the sense that houses change with every new owner who comes through the doors.
Sometimes, though, you come across a place which truly makes sense of the phrase; and Stonewall Farm, in a town called Granite Springs in New York state, is one of those. It’s a 740-acre estate with a spectacular country home as its centrepiece, surrounded by exquisite gardens, a huge range of further buildings, and something very special indeed: one of the most successful stud farms and horse trainers in the US. And yet all of this is within 50 miles of central Manhattan, and for sale via Luxury Portfolio International at $100 million.
Where to start with a home like this? The main house — all 24,000sq ft of it — is the obvious place. It was built in 2003 to a design by New York architect Rebecca Rasmussen, while the interiors were done by the hugely influential British interior designer Kelly Hoppen.
The latter’s work here is really something else: take the library, for example, with its dark wood finish that creates an unforgettable effect. It’s self-consciously — and yet successfully — blending both classic and contemporary, and East and West.
That same pattern is repeated elsewhere throughout the home: there’s a delightfully bright, pretty orangery that would grace any country house, a dining-kitchen that mixes a bold, dark floor with a comfortable, fun layout, perfect for busy family life; and there’s a sitting room with cosy sofas and an open fire, surrounded my an imported English stone mantelpiece.
Yet within these four walls you’ll also find a double-height atrium-style seating area with a glass wall framed by black window surrounds, and Japanese prints on the staircase to one side. That staircase, almost improbably, leads up to an indoor karesansui, a traditional Japanese stone garden of the type you’d expect to find in one of Kyoto’s temples.
Everywhere you look the contrast is clear: screen walls here, a Japanese-style bath there; a David Linley sofa in this corner and a Qi dynasty buddha in the other, and both sharing space in a room lit by a Jean-Michel Frank chandelier.
While the house is full-on stylish, it’s clear that the this was a home also built for the good life. There’s the sort of wine cellar a top-end hotel would be proud of, with space for 2,200 bottles, and a dedicated tasting room; there’s also a pub-slash-games room.
And the swimming pool? It’s not so much a pool as an entire leisure centre. The poolhouse pavilion, stretched around a beautiful courtyard garden with wisteria-clad walkways, extends to 4,000 sq ft, with a 20-yard pool flanked by French windows that open on to the spa, gym and gardens.
We use the plural ‘gardens’ advisedly, since there are four distinct areas: a Japanese garden, English rose garden, a butterfly garden and a herb garden, while in the landscape beyond are woodland, ponds, parkland and orchards — as well as one of the great draws of the place, the aforementioned thoroughbred stud farm and training stables.
The vendors have spend decades building up this side of Stonewall Farm. Today, there is space for 48 brood mares and 40 yearlings as well as paddocks, pens and a 1¼ mile racetrack. Horses born and raised here have gone on to win 40 major races in the US and take part in the Kentucky Derby, and with three tracks nearby — Belmont the closest, just an hour away — it’s clear that the new owners could carry on with this as their central interest. Yet to focus too much on the equestrian facilities does Stonewall Farm a disservice, since there is so much more potential here.
With this much land — and half of the property is still undeveloped — all manner of options are on the table. It could be a residential development, the site of a newly-established seat of higher learning, or even (as the agents suggest) the ideal place to base a training academy for a start of the sports world, in the mould of baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr’s Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach. Could this be the site of a new David Beckham Football Soccer Academy?
These big ideas even have a tailor-made headquarters, in the form of a beautiful stone-built building which was once (probably) the grandest mineral water bottling plant in the world. The Granite Springs Bottling Co, built in the 19th century to tap the seven wells that still each supply 250 gallons a day, is currently used as 36,000sq ft of garaging, but has served as many other things since in its time. It was actually leased by Chase Bank during the Second World War as a secure document storage facility, and today still includes office space and residential apartments that seem to make it ideal as the new HQ for a startup.
We could go on all day — Stonewall Farm really is the sort of property that starts firing your dreams. One thing is for certain, though: given that it’s half a century since the place last changed hands, this really is set to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for whoever takes it on.