Echoes

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Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty takes a look at the story behind a magnificent house now on the market through Halstead Property, New York.

When bombs are falling it is best to get as far away as one can.  Some London children in the Second World War did exactly that.

Over two million children were evacuated from British cities at the start of the war to shield them from atrocity. Never the less, The Blitz in London alone, between September 1940 and May 1941, saw 40,000 lives lost – 4,000 of them children – and over a million houses were destroyed or damaged.

But for eighteen of those beleaguered London children life took a very different turn. They were sent to the US where they were safely and comfortably installed together at 91 Camp Comfort Road in Tuxedo Park, New York.  Today their refuge is known as the Children’s House.

Built by New York architects, Walker & Gillette, for the financier Charles Mitchell, the manor house borrows from the Gothic Revival style but hints at the Arts & Crafts movement also.  The architects also built Mitchell’s Manhattan house in Fifth Avenue, now the French Consulate.

In strong echoes of today Mitchell was one of a group of reckless moneymen who, it is said, helped to cause the Wall Street Crash in 1929.  Nicknamed, Sunshine Charlie, Mitchell served as president and chairman of National City Bank – now Citibank. His was a chequered history that included indictment for tax evasion.  But ultimately he was redeemed within the financial establishment and died in 1955 having re-made his considerable fortune.

Tuxedo Park came to social prominence between 1885 and the 1920s and attracted as residents many Gilded Age financiers and bankers such as the Astors and the Morgans. At a formal ball, held at the exclusive Tuxedo Club in 1886, a young tobacco magnate wore a new style black, formal jacket without tails for the first time in the United State. The jacket became known as the tuxedo.

In recognition of its historical and architectural significance, the district was listed as Tuxedo Park on the US National Register of Historic Places.

Now this lovely house with its beautiful formal and wooded garden overlooking Tuxedo Lake is on the market. Olmstead, the landscape architects, who set out Manhattan’s Central Park, designed the original gardens here.  These have been meticulously updated. The lawns and gardens feature stone walls and outcrops, terraces and water gardens.

The Children’s House stands in 72 beautiful wooded acres within the famous gated estate.  For eighteen bomb-weary English children it must have made an extraordinary air-raid shelter.  Today it remains a wonderful home, refuge and retreat where the cheerful echoes of the past sing long and loud.

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