Crow’s Nest

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Nick Churton of Lila Delman Real Estate’s London, UK office looks out over Newport Harbour from mast-top height and finds lots to look at and lots to like.

Broker: Lila Delman Real Estate

Agent: Alyce Wright

Newport, Rhode Island is full of spectacular properties to suit all tastes. If you want grand then Newport does that. If you want period/historic then it does that too. But many home buyers want waterside. After all Newport and its harbour is at the heart of sailing in the USA. And if it is waterside you are after how cool would it be to own a two-bedroom duplex apartment in the heart of downtown Newport with a 37 ft. marina slip. Boat enthusiasts the world over will recognise the significance of this and the attraction. Welcome to Coddington Wharf.

All day long in the season Newport Harbour teems with boats of all sizes and types. There are modern ones and classic ones, working ones and leisure ones, racing ones and cruising ones. But most owners of boats of any description, having moored up for the day, will jump in their cars to head off home. Not here. The only transportation needed at Coddington Wharf is the elevator that whisks one up to the apartment. It is so close it is almost like an extension of the boat. The top floor acts as an owner’s or captain’s cabin with state room, marbled bathroom and outside deck. The floor below offers a beautifully fitted kitchen, living room, guest bedroom, bathroom and deck.

From here all the great land-based attractions of Newport are only a stroll away.

One could sit on one of the three decks in the sunshine all day watching life going on in the harbour. In fact sometimes it might well seem more appealing than getting wet on a boat. Up in that luxury eyrie one can spy all that is going on on the water without ever getting queasy. Call it a crow’s nest. And a very fine nest it is too.

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Messing about in Boats

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Nick Churton of Lila Delman Real Estate’s London, UK office arrives home and dry above the waves in Newport, Rhode Island.

Broker: Lila Delman Real Estate

Agent: Cynthia Moretti

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing,” said the Rat in Wind in the Willows – “half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” If that is how you feel then there is nowhere quite like Newport, Rhode Island to feed this passion. Newport is all about boats. It is the centre of operations. It is the start line.

But most don’t want to live on board their boats. For the most part they enjoy sleeping on terra firma. So without doubt the best place to be is in a property that has a boat’s view but never rocks – no matter how high the waves get.

I asked people who would know if another property existed in Newport that had as good an aspect as 19 Defenders Row, a duplex condominium overlooking the harbour from every window east, south and west. I was assured that there was not.

While I was looking round the property two sleek ex-America’s Cup boats passed by and a faithful replica of a 17th century naval frigate, plus several two- and three-masted schooners, not to mention a plethora of other craft large and small, wind-driven and motorised, old and new, wooden or otherwise.

This condo is in a brilliant position. The agent, Cynthia Moretti, describes this property as a ‘land yacht’ and she is not wrong. A cantilevered deck hangs out over the water and a beach provides a soundtrack to the property with water lapping on the sand as it would on a hull.

All this is situated on the 20-acre Goat Island accessed by bridge just a short walk from downtown Newport – or you could call the water taxi.

Special, rare, and lovely, this home offers the best of both land and sea. It is about as close to amphibious as you can get without ever being afloat.

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Pavillion of Splendor

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Nick Churton of Lila Delman’s London, UK office delights in a Newport, Rhode Island house that took him completely by surprise.

Broker: Lila Delman

Agent: Kristin Parella

I was dumbfounded. What had begun as a visit to a pleasant enough looking single storey pavillion called South Wind – in one of the even-better parts of Newport, Rhode Island – became a fantastic voyage through someone else’s sophisticated imagination. It was another world. Inside was a Gustavian interior – or a neat dacha – with painted floors, enchanting enfilade and beautifully proportioned rooms set round a grand garden-facing hall.

I would love to have met the cultivated, urbane man who envisioned and then executed this polished interior. His name was Robert Hill. He was from Boston, a gentleman designer and protégé of Billy Baldwin. Baldwin, otherwise known as the dean of interior decorators and America’s best dressed man, designed for John F Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Barbara Hutton, Cole Porter and Paul Mellon among many noted others. It was from this tradition and creative lineage that Hill produced his little piece of interior heaven in Newport. Goodness knows what it would have looked like when tastefully filled with wonderful and appropriate antique furniture, exquisite pictures and delightful and interesting objet d’art. It must have been breathtaking. Mr Hill had the eye.

I hope that whoever buys this treasure also has the eye – or at least knows someone who does. For this is a rare opportunity to re-create an architectural gem in a town of architectural gems. It is not large. But that is its charm. Here is the chance to re-awaken one of Newport’s secret delights, situated as it is behind a disarming facade. That is its secret. We all love to go through doors that take us to some unexpected and enchanting place. It is sleight of hand. It is surprise. It is theatre.

One is in good company in this part of town. Over the years some of America’s leading families have made their homes here or have at least been frequent visitors. Long before The Hamptons attracted a new set the old money came here to be close to their ilk, the highly-exclusive Bailey’s Beach and the New York Yacht Club.

Of course no house is quite complete without its garden. Otherwise it would be like a jewel without its setting or a fine painting without a frame. Here a series of garden ‘rooms’ complement each of the house’s elevations.

What a house. What an opportunity. I envy the buyer. But he, she or they will have to get this house twice over. They will have to understand it and they will have to purchase it. Only then will the full magic of this house again be truly realised.

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Time Travel

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Nick Churton of Lila Delman Real Estate’s London, UK office revisits The Point district in Newport, Rhode Island to see a perfect example of imaginative modernisation within a sensitive and beautiful conservation area.

 

Broker: Lila Delman Real Estate

 

Agent: Annie Becker

 

You might not have heard of Doris Duke but in 1925 when she was only twelve she was left eighty million dollars – that’s almost one billion dollars in today’s money. Fortunately for Newport, Rhode Island she grew up to be a sensible and enlightened woman and found plenty of wise ways to spend her money well.

 

One of her many philanthropic activities was to save from the wrecking ball almost single-handedly over eighty 18th century and early 19th century houses in Newport’s Point and Hill districts.  This was a piece of extraordinary civic vision, for without Miss Duke much of Newport’s precious early architectural heritage could have been lost forever, and by now be just a dusty memory concreted over by cookie cutter condos.

 

In saving these houses and neighbourhoods Miss Duke, through her formidable resources and foresight, saved the town’s architectural soul through a scale of preservation that few have attempted before or since.

 

So it is thanks to Miss Duke all those years ago and to the agent, Annie Becker, now that I was privileged to see 35 Second Street. This is a corner-located clapboard home that once was half the size. Originally built in 1760, it was added to later when a house of similar vintage was moved from another location and then joined to it.

 

This is certainly the house time has not forgotten and has just emerged from its latest programme of modernisation. It is now a master class in careful reincarnation within the strictures of the conservation rules and guidelines of this neighbourhood.

 

The exterior, painted according to a period palette, is unaffected. It is the interior which has been addressed. This is now an astonishing contemporary space which has lost nothing of its architectural integrity. How was that done? It seems to me by alchemy. It is very clever, very attractive, very practical and very comfortable. It is a modern interior in a historic skin. The two work perfectly together.

 

So it is thanks to Miss Duke and her later disciples that we are able to delight in visiting such houses today. But imagine how much better it would be to actually live there. If you think you may like to, give Annie a call.

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Going Dutch

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Nick Churton of Halstead Property’s London, UK office discovers a real jewel when he visits a fabulous waterside home at 133 Rowayton Avenue, Rowayton, Connecticut.

Broker: Halstead Property

Agents: Bettina Hegel, Susan O’Rourke and Nancy Dauk

A Dutch ensign flies at the stern of the sleek, craftsman-built, 27 ft. launch or Kapiteinssloep riding easily and rather proudly at its mooring in Rowayton, Connecticut. The craft was lovingly and expertly built by Wajer Yachts in Holland where they know a thing or two about constructing boats. Quality boatbuilding has been part of the culture of the Netherlands since the 16th century. The very word yacht comes from the Dutch word, jacht.

So one might expect that a homeowner from Holland, and with such an eye for high quality craftsmanship, would be just as discerning about where they live on land. And so it is here in Rowayton, the affluent coastal village just 40 miles from New York City. From the cobbled forecourt, past the two-car garage, through the impeccable open plan first floor, over the beautifully paved patio garden, down the companionway, along the jetty and onto the launch this is top quality all the way – an impeccably well presented home maintained to an extremely high standard. Like the launch, which is included in the sale, this house will not let you down practically or socially. It whispers style – for this is not a brash, loud property. It is rather understated and classy. Like the Dutch.

Designed by Beinfield Architecture of North Norwalk, CT – with 80 design awards to its name – the stone and shingle townhouse with deep water dock on Five Mile River and direct access to Long Island Sound offers the buyer an extremely sophisticated and rewarding lifestyle.

Alongside boatbuilding, another Dutch specialty is diamonds. Have no doubt this is a subtly and beautifully cut, diamond of a house.

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Bird of Paradise

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Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty spots a rare bird on the market in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Broker: Smith & Associates

Agent: Malowany Group

If 2600 Driftwood Road South, St Petersburg, Florida was a bird, and not a house, it would surely be an elusive bird of paradise – its bright plumage attracting admiring glances by all those lucky enough to glimpse it. Painting a house bright yellow doesn’t work everywhere. In fact it would be a huge design error along most streets in the world. But here in lush and leafy, semi-tropical St Petersburg and on this wonderful Spanish inspired waterside home it is perfect. It works. It belongs.

The architect and artist, Mark Dixon Dodd, designed this and eighteen other delightful homes in the Bayou Oaks area of St Petersburg in the late 1930s. They are all still there, following the natural line of the Big Bayou, drawing those admiring glances and providing an inspiring and rewarding place to live for their enthusiastic residents – residents so enthusiastic they are famously reluctant to move, making these homes of paradise rare visitors to the real estate market.

More recently, local architect, Tim Clemmons, well known for his arts and urban projects, has cleverly and unobtrusively added to No 2600 – itself called Driftwood. He has been careful not to strike a discordant note with the original vision of his illustrious predecessor.

Driftwood is securely located in a gated estate. Many of the original architect’s signature features still exist including the wooden ceilings and tiled floors. But it has been sympathetically and successfully updated. The house sits in almost an acre of beautiful gardens with 150 ft. of private beach/water front. There is also berthing for a 70 ft. yacht.

I think Dixon Dodd would like what has been done to the place – including the colour. It would have pleased his artist’s eye.

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Lofty Ideals

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Nick Churton from Mayfair International Realty hits the heights of conservation vision and artistry when he visits a converted stable block in Mamaroneck, New York.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Cini Palmer

The trouble with lofts is that they are often at the top of buildings in densely populated towns and cities. But what if you long for the loft look but want to be nearer the ground, out of town and in a great family neighbourhood – perhaps on a sophisticated and historic estate? What if you want to be a few blocks from the beach and not the docks?

Well, 1010 Constable Drive, Mamaroneck must be the perfect answer – loft-style living in the form of a fabulous converted carriage house and stable block. This was originally part of the Constable estate. The Constable family owned, what was once, the oldest department store in America. The company operated from 1825 to 1975. At its peak the Broadway store handled the bulk of the carriage trade of New York – with customers such as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Morgan – mirroring Harrods in London that was founded just a year earlier.

The influential Olmsted Brothers landscaped the original estate on Orienta Point. Not much of that survives now. But the stables and carriage house does. Originally built in 1893 the attractive block, set in 0.58 acres, enjoys a sensational position with views over Long Island Sound. When the leaves are off the trees in winter this view stretches to the Manhattan skyline. This emphasises the closeness the city is to Mamaroneck – the local Metro North station is just minutes away from the property and Grand Central station about 35 minutes beyond that.

The history of the building has been creatively captured and featured in this recent restoration. Exposed and white-painted brick walls soar to lofty timber slatted ceilings. Windows and doors have Gothic accents. Stripped oak floors stretch as far as the eye can see. And in this building the eye can see a long way – the great room is 49′ x 34′. The marble island unit in the kitchen seems about as big as a small flat.

Outside, the original brick courtyard provides an impressive and charming introduction to this airy, light filled home which offers magnificent family living. There is also plenty of room for a pool and tennis court in the grounds.

It would be hard not to let your imagination soar here. So if you have some lofty ideals about what you want in a home this may well fit the bill.

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Sackett and Sea

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Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty finds it impossible to fault a lovely waterside shingle-style home close to Rye, New York.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Nancy Everett

Most buyers look at a good few homes before they make a final decision. It is the right and sensible thing to do. The trouble comes when the first one they see is as near to perfect as one will get. Many buyers will still think they need to see more properties just to be convinced.

I imagine this happening at 4 Sackett Landing, Rye, New York. What’s there not to like here? The position is idyllic: a sheltered waterside spot within sight of Long Island Sound. Rye itself is a favoured spot for New York commuters (Grand Central 35 minutes) and popular with families for the excellent school district. So, no argument there. Location – tick.

Now take your time outside. Try it out. Enjoy the garden. Lie down on a sun bed on the wide, partially covered deck that wraps round the house. Take in the serene view. Watch the wildlife. Listen to nothing much. It is coastally bucolic. No argument there. Life outside – tick.

Go inside. Sit down in the comfortable living room or behind the desk in the light, bright study. Take in the superb carpentry – the craftsmanship is wonderful – and gaze out of the plentiful picture windows. Pretend you are preparing food in the slate-topped kitchen – it’s that view again. Go upstairs. Ask nicely and sit on the end of the bed. Imagine waking up to that every day. There is a basement. But it’s not really a basement. In the UK a basement is often a dark, windowless place. This is a fully functioning airy ground/garden floor. Imagine everyone gathering there in the big family room and spilling out onto the lawn. Imagine a family member, guest or staff using the garden floor bedroom suite. Take in the way that the interior has been perfectly conceived, beautifully executed and impeccably maintained. No arguments there either. Life inside – tick.

So there you have it. A lovely house that ticks all the boxes and makes it completely unnecessary to go and look at anything else.

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Superlative

FullSizeRender[1].jpgNick Churton of Mayfair International Realty is almost lost for words after visiting a sensational home close to the heart of Greenwich, Connecticutt.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agents: BK Bates and Ginny Hamilton

Superlatives are tricky things in real estate. If you squander them easily to over-describe a home which is merely very good then what do you use for a home that is truly exquisite?

By any measure 11 Mayfair Lane Greenwich, Connecticut is exquisite. Words like attractive, spacious, delightful and impressive have no place here. ‘Exceptional’ does.

Take 13 acres close to the centre of Greenwich and create a magnificent landscape, using rock outcrops to punctuate the grassy space, through which the drive winds dramatically under a canopy of fine trees to a stately and beautifully placed stone chateau. It is a master class in landscape architecture. It is living theatre. Andropogon Associates of Philadelphia, whose committed principle is ‘designing with nature’, had the stagecraft and the vision. And it is a vision.

Then who would have thought that a modern, high-tech and minimalist approach to interior design could work so brilliantly within the highly traditional form of a robust, French-styled manor house originally built in 1930? In 1998 design duo, Bray-Schaible did. In fact they were years ahead of their time. Many other designers are now rushing to catch up. In the world of Greenwich real estate today, sleek sells. And this house is sleek, and it is magnificent, and it is grand, and it is romantic and it is exquisitely comfortable. Architectural Digest certainly regarded it so and wrote a major article in their October, 1999 issue to celebrate it all. And if anything this home has improved with age and loving use.

So if you seek a house of superlatives, and not of lesser terms, then this is the perfect place.

 

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Make Your Day

Nick Churton from Mayfair Interenational Realty takes a very fond look at a magnificent waterside family compound in Rye, New York that comes with a very special view and a fabulous extra.

Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Agent: Michael McCooey

Boat enthusiasts will need little introduction to the Hinckley Company. The Maine-based boat builders have been making some of the finest yachts in the world since 1928. For many it is a life ambition to own, or have owned, one. For a few one will never be enough.

So here is a great way to acquire a Hinckley. One comes as standard with 96 Rye Road, Rye, New York.

The Hinckley aesthetic – ‘sleek, sculpted lines that belong naturally to the water’ – is perfectly reflected in this compound home overlooking Long Island Sound. It starts at the front door. Through-the-home, front-to-back views are one thing but this is quite another. A vast, wall-size picture window greets and then draws one to the epic views across the Sound to Long Island – and, of course, to the Hinckley sitting prettily and all ready to go beside the deep-water private boat dock. You could be at the Huntingdon Yacht Club on Long Island ready to eat seafood fra diavolo, washed down with a chilled bottle of Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet in not much more than 30 minutes.

The property comes in three parts: the main house, a spacious four bedroom guest or family house and a delightful and compact guest studio apartment with fabulous wake-up-to views – I’d be very happy in the studio!

There is also a wine closet, mirrored gym and au pair/guest suite. Outside is a water’s-edge pool with stone entertaining terrace, private beach, tennis court and garaging for eight cars.

All this is only half an hour from Manhattan by train and is in the prized Rye school district. So whether you are single with lots of friends or a family with lots of children or generations this luxury compound pretty much hits the spot. Ask for more details from the listing agent, Michael McCooey. He’s as charming as the property. And if you are very serious about buying the property I would ask for a ride in the Hinckley. It will make your day and help to make up your mind that this piece of real estate has it all – on and off the water.

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