Grahampton

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The House: Grahampton, 100 Clapboard Ridge, Greenwich, Connecticut

The Agent: Julie Church

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office wanders the halls of a great Greenwich house, picking up the vibes and sensing a sleeping beauty.

By 1900 Greenwich, Connecticut had become a glittering place to live – whilst elsewhere in America the shine had started to wear off the Gilded Age. Greenwich’s good fortune was in no small part thanks to its early resort quality and speedy commute to New York City by train. Greenwich to Wall Street was and still is an oft-used path. One by one, stately houses were built in Greenwich for the well-to-do.

So, it was with immense pleasure that I visited Grahampton, one of the great Greenwich houses. Did I hear echoes of the past as I wandered through the hallways and living rooms? Did I see in my mind’s eye a magnificent society wedding for a beloved daughter? I imagined both. But I also saw a house that has defied age. Through thoughtful design Grahampton has stayed in vogue through the decades.

Built in 1917 as a summer house for a wealthy Pittsburgh family, the estate initially had three-hundred acres: now it is a more manageable five acres. But the grandeur persists, the pedigree shows, and Grahampton remains one of Greenwich’s finest homes.

Within Grahampton’s twelve-thousand gracious square feet are seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms. On the ground floor the living rooms are well-proportioned and finely appointed. This house was built to enjoy and to impress, and over a hundred years later it still effortlessly manages to do both in equal measure.

Everyone has to catch their breath now and again and I believe over time houses do the same. I should say that here is a sleeping beauty, and all that’s needed to awaken her is a kiss.

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The Stuff of Fiction

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The House: 22 Round Hill Club Road, Greenwich, CT

The Agent: Maria Crowley

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence 

Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office finds an extraordinary family home in Greenwich, Connecticut with a top golf course at the end of the road.

Fiction has notable houses that nurture their family occupants; homes that are loved by generations. There is Barton Cottage in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, P G Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle, and, more recently, Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey.

In real life there are many more, but it is good to be reminded sometimes of the power a house has to provide stability and protection. When I visited this house in Greenwich, before I knew it the house had wrapped its arms around me. I felt comfortable, safe and at home.

Parents, your children will be in good hands here. One secret of the property is the spacious adult-and-child-friendly party barn. If you want to be at least within earshot of the kids this couldn’t be better. Teenagers will never want to be anywhere else. It’s akin to an adult being imprisoned in a Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental hotel. Why on earth would you ever want to escape?

Between the party barn and the house is a tennis court, space for lacrosse practice, a large pool with changing room, and a tiled-roof, open-sided pavilion with TV connections for watching a game between dips in the pool. How Mandarin Oriental is that? The difference is that you don’t have to share it with anyone else outside family and friends.

And so, to the house which has a genteel Arts & Crafts style and feel: tell you what, checkout the images on the website – it will show you a family home at the top of its game. And what about local amenities? As the address suggests, one of Connecticut’s top ten golf courses is just a stone’s throw away.

I loved this house and still do. It would be a privilege to have been brought up there. I might even have featured it in a book. But for now, this blog must suffice.

Party Barn
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Mighty House

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The House: Terry Manor, 27 Hampshire Road, Bronxville, New York 

The Agent: Kathleen Collins 

The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence 

Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office gets the show business feeling in a charming house in Bronxville, New York

Recently I visited Terry Manor, a Tudor-style home near Bronxville, New York. It was once the home of Paul Terry, co-founder of Terrytoons, the animation studio that created cartoon characters such as Mighty Mouse and Deputy Dawg. The house was built in 1935 when th studio was only in its sixth year. 

Today the word cartoon is associated with humorous or satirical caricature, and in a way Terry Manor uses parody to draw on English 16th century architectural themes. But in the Italian Renaissance, cartone, meant a large and very detailed drawing. In this way I imagine the house as a detailed work expressing the serious ideas of both the original owner and the current ones.

With a fabulous team of tradespeople, the present owners have achieved a stunning refurbishment. It’s like Mighty Mouse has returned as a decorator. Take a look at the video. The attention to detail in this house is astonishing. If I had only one word to describe the home it would be romantic. The house is a love story awaiting new owners on whom to sprinkle stardust.

On a practical level, just look at a map. Is there anywhere that can offer a park-like feel, wraparound terrace, pool and romance just 20 minutes from New York City? I very much doubt it.

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Clean Floors

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The House: 190 Associates Road, West Falmouth, Massachusetts

The Agents: The O’Neill Group

The Broker: Robert Paul Properties

Nick Churton of Robert Paul’s London office indulges in some mental landscaping while visiting a frontline house on Cape Cod.

Some people like to live directly on the beach, and others want to live with at least a strand of separation. It is a matter of taste, but to some a palette of green and blue seems better than all blue.

I visited a home on Cape Cod with a beautiful colour palette. If I were an artist, I would name the hues. But as I haven’t quite that eye I can only describe the picture those shades paint from the windows of the house.

The property is in a private enclave with about forty other homes that enjoy the vernacular style of the Cape. They also all benefit from seclusion without isolation. The small community has gated security, two private beaches, a tennis court and a community boat barn.

All that is great. But I liked the view towards the sea beyond the spacious bedrooms, the airy open-plan living/entertaining area, the gourmet kitchen and generous decks. Between the house and the beach is a strip of land that is included in the estate. The low vegetation provides terrific verdant shades, while the surface of a large pond picks up the ever-changing mood of the sky overhead. Many people will love this space just the way it is with the birdlife lending this unique private reserve activity, movement and interest. But others might like to bring in the human touch and create a natural garden. It would be an excellent project. 

The salt marsh strand gives the well-appointed, shingle-hung house perspective and context, and I think the picture created from the windows is the better for it. Besides, each time your family and friends walk the few minutes back from the beach, they won’t tread sand into the house.

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Shorelines

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The house: 193 Mead Street, Waccabuc, New York

The agent: Susan Stillman.

The broker: Houlihan Lawrence

Nick Churton of Houlihan Lawrence’s London office visits a heavenly retreat in Waccabuc, New York and lets his imagination soar.

Are you looking for a beautiful and peaceful retreat, dear reader? I didn’t know I was until I arrived here. Here, by the way, is a cottage high above picturesque Lake Waccabuc – only about an hour’s drive from frenetic New York City. A long pine-scented driveway leads to a woodland clearing with a stone-built house seemingly hewn from the hillside. The interior of the home is innocent of any pretence in a highly comfortable, mountain sort of way. Instead, the beguiling view and the people who enjoy the view are the essential components of this drama. It is like a theatre set where the players and the backdrop, not the stage props, hold the essential interest. Still, the rooms flow like great dialogue. Nothing jars; nothing upsets the rhythm of the place. All is quiet save for birdsong.

The home is set within thirteen acres and abuts preserved land – thus ensuring its seclusion and peace in perpetuity. The main house includes three bedrooms, a high vaulted open plan living area, and a magnificent floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. There is a sophisticated modern kitchen with a view-to-die-for breakfast banquette and large open-air decks with eyrie vistas.

The detached two-car garage has additional accommodation, including an exercise room/office/studio with a bathroom.  Down by the lake are 300 ft of private shoreline and a large, rare and grandfathered-in dock. 

I learned that Waccabuc is a popular area for creatives. Actors, writers and artists like to live hereabouts and I can understand why. In 1956 Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller were married in the home of Miller’s literary agent just across the lake. 

Could you do with a place like this? Trust me, there is a chair outside in the clean, aromatic air overlooking the lake, with your name on it. 

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Blown Away

The House: 186 Windswept Way, Osterville, Massachusetts 

The Agent: Robert B. Kinlin

The Broker: Robert Paul Properties

Nick Churton from The Robert Paul London office checks out an iconic waterside home in Oyster Harbors and is delighted to see the wood for the trees.

I was blown away by Windswept Way. This leafy Cape Cod thoroughfare runs roughly north to south in Oyster Harbors: it cradles two holes on the highly-regarded Osterville golf course to the east and gives access to the properties that hug the beautiful shoreline to the west.

Arguably the most notable house on Oyster Harbors sits along this wooded way. When built in 1932 the French-inspired home in four acres of grounds promised to be a showpiece on the Cape. Ninety years later it is still a showpiece. Number 186 is certainly the house to have if you are into golf. It is also the house to have if you are into boats as it has an enviable deep-water mooring dock. But even if you aren’t into golf or boats, it is still the house to have because it is beautiful and iconic and is blessed by a dream location. The house has a short line of accomplished previous owners – the first was a Harrow-educated, English businessman from Tunbridge Wells, another was the Olympic figure skating champion, Tenley Albright, who later became a noted Harvard-trained surgeon.

The immediate past owner of number 186 valued his privacy to the extent that he enclosed the house in a thick curtain of trees so that nobody on the golf course or sailing out in Cotuit Bay could ever see through the leafy shroud. This lack of vision was for long a loss to many local people and visitors, as even a quick glimpse of the house is enchanting. But now a master gardener, the man who has orchestrated all things horticultural and arboreal at the property for the past twenty-five years, has gradually let the light shine in. The result is a beautiful view into the property but also from the house. On a clear day you can see the hazy outline of Martha’s Vineyard 35 miles away. And, of course, by taking a fast boat from the end of your pier you could be drinking cocktails with friends on the Vineyard in only a few hours.

Cape Cod has many sensational houses. I have been fortunate to visit one or two of them, but if I were in the market for one today I would look no further than this wonderful home.  I already like boats. I might even take up golf again. But most of all I can’t think of a nicer place to live.

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Bee Line

The house: 16 Tuthill Lane, Remsenburg, New York

The agents: Saundra C. Parola and William F. LeMaire

The broker: Brown Harris Stevens

Nick Churton of Brown Harris Stevens’ London office finds a house that would be just at home in Surrey, England as it is in the Hamptons, New York.

When it comes to choosing a great nesting site, you can’t beat an osprey. I was reminded of this when I recently visited a jewel of a house in the Hamptons, that celebrity haunt on the south fork of Long Island, New York. On top of one spectacular chimney was an osprey’s nest and atop that was an osprey. Yes, raptors, especially ospreys, have a keen eye for great real estate.

But who put that chimney there first, and when, for that was pure vision? The answer is architect Gordon Bee Dudley with EW Howell Construction Group, a name behind many notable New York buildings. The year was 1934.

The house, which occupies three floors, has about 6,770 square feet of living space containing seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms, formal living and dining rooms, a library, an updated kitchen, a family room and an office. The style is unmistakably Tudorbethan, and the condition is remarkable.

Outside, in almost 14.5 acres of meticulously landscaped and secluded grounds are formal gardens, a new pool, a pond and numerous outdoor entertaining areas.

Again, if you want a good location, follow the ospreys. This property is near the ocean and beaches and is also on the western edge of the celebrated Hamptons. This location makes it easier to get to and from Manhattan than some other Hamptons’ haunts – only about two hours’ drive away – something you’ll undoubtedly be delighted about come the weekends and holidays.

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Another World

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The Property: 63 Whiting Street, Bury St Edmunds, England

The Agent: Bedfords

Nick Churton of Bedfords’ London office discovers that there is a fine line between fact and fiction in Bury St Edmunds, England.

One could be forgiven for thinking this photo is a still from Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. But this house doesn’t belong in a movie set, it belongs in Bury St Edmunds in the East of England.

It is impossible to know precisely when in the 15th century this house was constructed. Perhaps it had been built by the time Henry V returned to England after his victory against the French at Agincourt in 1415. Or when the Tudor dynasty began with Henry VII following the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. But whenever it was, anyone living in Bury St Edmunds over the past five hundred years or so would be familiar with this property.

The almost impossibly romantic building continues to offer a very comfortable, if old world, lifestyle for the latest in a very long line of owners. One could say that the owners have become a form of dynasty themselves, a dynasty of stewards who carry on the tradition and keep the flame of 63 Whiting Street alive.

Who will live in this beautiful home next? Not a Hobbit, or a wizard. But perhaps a bookish person who will enjoy filling the shelves and then settling down by the fire for a good read. Or maybe it will be someone who will tour the many fascinating East Anglian antique shops, plundering them for period-correct furniture to complement the house. But whoever buys this enchanting property will not be disappointed.

And why move to Bury St Edmunds, a Saxon royal borough where the monastery was founded in about 633? Well, the town must be one of the most pleasing in England. It has gentility and an aura of calm. Living in the town centre is to walk quaint, historic streets to the Regency theatre, fine restaurants and charming pubs, or to take a summer evening stroll in the beautiful abbey gardens alongside the River Lark.

At 63 Whiting Street, house and town combine to offer a unique and delightful opportunity for someone to pick up sticks and enter another world. It might not be fantasy, but it is magical.

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Like a Jewel

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Nick Churton of Brown Harris Stevens’ London marketing office invites you to join him in visiting a landmark New York apartment with star appeal; and argues that there isn’t a finer place, night or day, from which to view the city that never sleeps.

The Apartment: 1125 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York

The Broker: Brown Harris Stevens

The agent: John Burger

Four major parts of Manhattan have great waterside views. Two are known the world over – they overlook the Hudson and East rivers. The other two are smaller and more familiar to Upper East or Upper Westsiders. These locals know that parts of their neighbourhoods overlook the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in the heart of Central Park.

Those who live along the adjacent stretches of Central Park West or Fifth Avenue, are blessed with an iconic view. The 106 acre stretch of water is surrounded by trees, surrounded by New York. For a city with so many floors, this natural view comes as a surprise and is dramatically low rise and open.

Of course, the higher one gets, the finer the view. So let’s take an elevator up to a penthouse and take a look. The apartment I’ve chosen is a triplex on Fifth Avenue. It’s on the market with Brown Harris Stevens. With fourteen rooms, 7,000 square feet of interior space and 3,000 square feet of landscaped terraces this apartment can hardly be described as modest. In fact the current owner calls it “a country house in the city”. And who should argue with that owner – Miss Bette Midler? She and her family have lived in and loved this ravishing apartment for twenty years.

The Emery Roth designed building offers the very highest level of service, privacy and security as standard. Nor does the district disappoint. The Upper East Side has an élan all of its own: for instance, the neighbourhood gallery is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Standing on the penthouse’s expansive upper terrace, can there be a better place to view the city? For a homebuyer it is hard to think of one. To prove my point, try stretching out your arms Titanic-style. The wind beneath your wings is New York and you haven’t just arrived, you are flying high.

Miss Midler once said, “If I could be granted a wish, I’d shine in your eye like a jewel.” Believe me, this penthouse shines like the biggest jewel in New York.

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Once

Waterside, East Portlemouth - house, slipway and beach

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Nick Churton from the Luscombe Maye, London office, gets all watery-eyed over an iconic beach house at Salcombe, Devon.

The Property: Waterside, East Portlemouth, Salcombe, Devon, UK

The Estate Agent: Luscombe Maye

The Office: Salcombe

Is this the most longed-for house in Salcombe, Devon, England, or indeed the world?

There can’t be anyone gazing across the estuary from oh-so-fashionable Salcombe – one of England’s most prized and pretty coastal towns for living, visiting and sailing – who hasn’t cast an envious eye towards the enormously attractive pink house opposite, sitting next to its own beach.

The house tempts the viewer to dream of carefree days with family and friends, enjoying simple pleasures, and doing what all great seaside houses should do – making cherished memories.

Now comes a once in a lifetime opportunity, as the house with a delightful garden, boathouse and two private moorings is on the market. It probably won’t come available again for decades.

For someone, the dreaming will come to an end when he or she buys this unique and celebrated house. They will wake up owning a prize beyond price. For what is the value of a dream come true? What is the value of slipping your mooring in your Salcombe Yawl and going racing, or jumping in the RIB with the kids and heading off around dramatic Bolt Head or up the enchanting creek to South Pool? What is the value of owning a grandchildren playground and magnet? These things, dear reader, are priceless. Take it from one who knows.

And spare a thought for the people over the other side of the estuary, glancing in your direction and dreaming. You were in their shoes once. Fortune has also turned her gaze on you.

Some houses seem beyond price or value. This is one of them.

Waterside, East Portlemouth - house and lawn

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