The Real Deal


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Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty takes a rare look at a master work in Millbrook, New York.

Nature doesn’t like architecture very much, even its own. But it likes human architecture even less. Nature endlessly erodes structures and features. Which is why old houses need looking after more than new ones. This is a snag comes when one prefers the appearance of older houses but not all the attendant upkeep. Then the answer is to find an architect who thinks the same way. In the UK one would go to the old master, Quinlan Terry. In the US one might choose the younger master, Gil Schafer, whose eponymous practice is based in New York City.

Houlihan Lawrence is now marketing one of Schafer’s superb houses, West View, in Millbrook, New York.  If you prefer living in a white box, with all of your possessions hidden away and only an Eames chair, artfully placed by a wall of glass, to sit on then West View may not be for you. There is of course great beauty in modernism. Yet it is not for everyone.

But look at West View. Just look at it. It is magnificent. It is a Greek revival villa with columned porticos and matching single storey wings in the Palladian style. It’s not a copy. But it is new – and thermally efficient. The plumbing and the electrics are state of the art. It isn’t draughty and it doesn’t let the rain in. It is as beautiful today as if it had been built two hundred and fifty years ago when trappers were paddling canoes up and down the nearby Hudson river, and naval ships belonging to a king who gave his name – George – to this style of architecture were anchored in New York Harbour.

This is not a pastiche. It is not pseudo-Georgian. It is genuine Georgian – in spirit, if not in origin. It is the evolution of an architectural style which happens to be one of the most enduring, successful and popular in design history. It is the creation of an exceptional house of quality and distinction in a place of singular beauty. It is classical house-building at its very best – a masterpiece by a master architect following a masterly tradition.

Gil Schafer recentely wrote a book called The Great American House. In all his creations he has put his drawing pen where his mouth is. He makes wonderful sense on paper and the execution of his ideas into buildings of great delight proves the point.  We are very fortunate to have Gil Schafer, and the buyer who will live in this incredibly lovely house with Hudson River and Catskill mountain views is very fortunate indeed.

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