The Property: Grant’s Corner, 424 Hawley Road, North Salem, New York
The Broker: Houlihan Lawrence
The Agent; Tracy Cunniff
Nick Churton of the Houlihan Lawrence London office receives a New York lesson in how to live in the now while enjoying the look of the past.
In 1846 North Salem, New York, was quietly witnessing the construction of a pretty Georgian style farmhouse. It would become known as Grant’s Corner. Not that you would have really noticed; then, as now, the house was screened by lush woodland. Elsewhere in the US that year the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia cracked while being rung to mark George Washington’s birthday and, way out West, the Donner Party, heading for Oregon, became snowbound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
No such shattering events were taking place in North Salem. All things considered, not much has changed in the area over the past one hundred and fifty years or so. It is a benign environment where there are almost as many horses as people and which maintains itself as a blissful retreat from hectic Manhattan, only an hour away by car – on a good day.
But changes have been made. One of them is Grant’s Corner itself. Not that you could tell very easily from the exterior, but inside is an excellent example of how to transition a nineteenth-century house into the now. It is not an easy thing to achieve. There are plenty of examples of how not to do it. But this is not one of them. In fact, this is an object lesson in skilful and perceptive renovation.
The work has been done softly. The new layout and finishes don’t shout at the past but take it gently by the hand and lead it calmly and willingly into the present. It is a magnificent job, and the result is a charming home that is not too big, but somehow not too small either.
Outside is a barn that has been used as a base for a highly successful floristry business, and a beautifully envisioned and maintained garden with fragrant rose varieties.
Over several months of serious house hunting in North Salem a buyer will typically see a number of options – most will be traditional in nature. Many won’t pass muster. Some will not have managed or attempted the transition through time. So I have a suggestion: to save a lot of time, head straight to Grant’s Corner and smell the roses.