Quaker Notes

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Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty visits a delightful and historic farmhouse in Duchess County, New York to also discover an interior of rare style and taste.

I was visiting Millbrook, New York on a cold, snowy day in early March.  The last time I was in that neighbourhood was several years ago on a very hot summer’s day for the very popular Fitch’s Corner horse show.  They are big on horses in Millbrook and the hunt here, a fixture for over 100 years, is acknowledged as one of the premier, and no doubt smartest equestrian organizations in North America.

This time I was there to see Killearn Farm. Originally called Hillside Lodge, Killearn Farm was built in 1832. Its Quaker builder, Tristram Coffin, was a perfectionist and the house was beautifully constructed, but much smaller then. The family had moved to Duchess County in New York, then a wilderness, for the chance to buy land in the Nine Partners Patent, a land grant first made in 1697. The Coffins had come from Nantucket, off the Rhode Island coast.  Many of Millbrook’s well-heeled residents now reverse the journey and head for the island for the summer holidays.

The owner of Killearn Farm today is equally creative, a seriously talented designer who instinctively understands how to make the very best of architectural detail.  And Killearn Farm has a great deal of that.

For instance, look at any paint chart you like.  Search through Farrow & Ball.  Search through Zoffany.  Search though any other high-end paint names or those in the mass market ranges.  But you won’t find the colour that covers the sitting room walls of Killearn Farm.  It is the colour of the underside of leaves from the indigenous mountain laurel.  It is a rich green/bronze hue that subtly draws the garden inside in the most strikingly beautiful way in daylight or candlelight.

That is how it goes at this superb home.  Attention to detail, perfect taste, inspired decoration, great provenance and wonderful location all work together to make a home of great distinction and desirability.  I thoroughly enjoyed visiting this house.  But not half as much as I would enjoy living in it.

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