HOUSES | An Alpine-style 1960s beauty in Mount Kisco

67grandview67 Grandview Drive in Mount Kisco, our new home.

We’ve taken plunge. My long silence here can be attributed to our recent purchase of a home in Mount Kisco. Mrs. F and I have been completely consumed by the improvements we’re making at 67 Grandview Drive.

The house, built in 1963, is an Alpine-style raised ranch. To be honest, it’s not what I thought we’d end up with. I had visions of us in the classic Westchester starter: a pre-1930, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath that was either colonial revival or Tudor in style. Mrs. F. is owed the credit for finding this house and having the vision to see it through. What she saw immediately and I see now was a very interesting interpretation of our style: There are houses quite a bit like this in our beloved Lake Placid and we love the 1960s. So there you have it.

Though the place was an aesthetic mess on the inside — the exterior isn’t perfect either; stucco was carried across three sides of the first level but not on the facade — it had, as the cliche goes, good bones. The kitchen cabinets were solid, the floors were fine and the utilities were in good order. The lot is adequate and provides an ample back yard space. The best features, we think, are the collection of evergreens that screen the house from neighbors and provide an Adirondack illusion.

Since taking possession on March 9, we’ve set about correcting the interior deficiencies. Electrical service has been upgraded. Painting and floor restoration are under way. We cleaned up the Scheirich kitchen cabinets and are in the decide-and-purchase phases of ordering new countertops and new appliances. The bathrooms, one sky blue and one mauve, will wait, as will replacements for the aluminum-frame windows.

You can follow our progress at a special Tumblr blog I’ve created to track our improvements.

And here’s a Flickr set with more photos than you’ll ever need to see.

GREAT HOUSES | Kykuit, seat of the Rockefellers

KykuitKykuit, the epic seat of the Rockefellers in Pocantico Hills.

“It’s what God would have built, if only He had the money.”

At the peak of the Hudson Valley fall, Mrs. F. indulged me and agreed to spend the better part of an October Saturday touring Kykuit, the Rockefeller seat in Pocantico Hills.

The estate, owned by New York’s first family since 1893, is a sprawling compound that sits high above the Hudson and the villages of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. Its apex is a forty-room classical revival manor house that was home first to John D. Rockefeller Sr. and subsequently by his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., and his grandson, Nelson A. Rockefeller, storied governor of New York and the 41st vice president of the United States.

Work on the mansion’s first form took six years to complete. The house’s final rendering was completed by Junior in 1913 with architecture from Chester Holmes Aldrich and William Adams Delano. The six-story structure includes two basement levels. The gracious interiors, which I found remarkable for their simplicity, were designed by Ogden Codman Jr., who co-authored the seminal Decoration of Houses with Edith Wharton in 1898.

Elsewhere on the estate, called the Park, are the homes of David Rockefeller, Happy Rockefeller, and a massive Tudor-revival Playhouse that’s still used as a club house by the Rockefeller. A nine-hole golf course, a massive orangerie and a multi-story Coach Barn and about 70 other outbuildings and houses round the Park out. The landscaping is as remarkable as the manorhouse and the other structures. Initially begun by the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, the work was completed by William Welles Bosworth, who designed the extensive terraces, fountains and gardens that surround the house.

HappyHappy Rockefeller plays with her son, Nelson Rockefeller Jr., in a fountain at Kykuit in 1965. This image was taken by epic LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Though the grand setting is itself worthy of a visit, Nelson Rockefeller’s extensive art collection is the real gem at Kykuit. A roster of artists whose works adorn Kykuit is too long for inclusion here, but the Governor’s subterranean galleries, which feature some of the best artists of the 20th century, are among the finest I’ve ever visited. Warhol, Picasso and Calder are all accounted for. The Governor also interspersed a vast collection of sculpture on the property.

As if that weren’t all terribly charming, there’s a fantastic collection of Rockefeller automobiles, carriages and coaches in the Coach barn. Among these are the Governor’s 1949 Crosley Hot Shot and several Lincolns he used during his four terms as New York’s chief executive.

The Park is a frequent cultural reference; the Governor’s May 4, 1963 marriage to Happy Rockefeller was mentioned during the third season of “Mad Men.”

Tours of the home are conducted seasonally, from the beginning of May to the beginning of November. The 2011 season opens Sunday, May 8. While the home is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, tours are run by Historic Hudson Valley, a network of historic Hudson Valley homes that was founded in 1951 by Junior. Tickets should be purchased in advance and tours start out from the adjacent Phillipsburg Manor.

Here’s a gallery from our trip:

Kykuit — Historick Hudson Valley
(914) 631-8200 Monday through Friday or (914) 631-3992 on weekends
Pocantico Hills, New York.

GREAT HOUSES | A pair of homes for Cheever or Draper in Ossining

Ossining. The home of the ficitional Don Draper and of fiction creator extraordinaire John Cheever, it’s been in the news a good deal this week as the nation awaits the premier of the fourth season of “Mad Men.”

The Journal News, the paper for the northern suburbs, talked with Ossining residents about the drama’s references to their environs. Peter Applebome, in his Our Towns column today in the Times, wondered why the Drapers weren’t living in one of Westchester’s more southern, tonier suburbs like Rye or Larchmont. The most obvious reason Don and Betty live in the northern river town, Applebome concludes, is a bow to John Cheever, who called an old farmhouse off Cedar Lane home for three decades.

Draper residence, real and imagined
The question as to why the Drapers live in Ossining has puzzled me and other fans of the show ( contributing writer Will Briganti thinks “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner’s choice of Ossining is a bad inaccuracy) for some time. Earlier this week, I went in search of Draperesque real estate in Ossining in an effort to prove Weiner wrong.

Of course there are beautiful properties in and around Ossining, just as there are up and down the Hudson Valley. I didn’t expect, though, to find a doppelganger for the Draper’s house at the fictional address of 42 Bullet Park Road. Take a look:


And here’s the Pasadena home used on the show:


Sure, there are slight exterior differences — the Pasadena house is all clapboard and has an Arts-and-Crafts influenced roof pitch — but they’re still both center-hall colonials. The former, located in Scarborough, just south of the village of Ossining, is on offer from Houlihan-Lawrence for $839,000. Built in 1936, the house’s exteriors appear as updated versions of Betty Draper’s. There’s even a knotty-pine paneled den:


More pictures in the gallery below.

Living a Cheeverian lifestyle
Two-and-a-half miles northeast of John Cheever’s Ossining home is another old farmhouse that was updated in the 20th century. It’s also on offer from Houlihan-Lawrence and can be had for the asking price of $699,000. The property, once the home of a “world-renowned artist and sculptor,” features a pool, an exterior garage and a barn. It’s glorious, frankly, and were it not just a little north and just a bit out of our price range, Mrs. F. and I have agreed we’d be very interested.

Cheever’s house, which we’ve driven by in the past, is also an old farmhouse, but the property doesn’t appear to be as large as the one on Croton Dam Road. When I first saw the listing for the latter, I was sure it was Cheever’s place, but it’s not. Here’s a look:


And here’s a gallery of photos from both houses:

Images courtesy of Houlihan-Lawrence.

GREAT HOUSES| Northern Adirondack camp is a real bargain

This camp on Mountain View Lake, in the northern reaches of the Adirondack Park, has caught my eye. It’s on offer for $155,000.

Real estate pornography attracts readers. To date, I’ve written about homes that are largely at the higher-end of the pricing spectrum, particularly properties I’ve featured in the Adirondacks. Not everyone, obviously, can afford the $8.1 million sticker price on Cheery Lodge, the iconic camp on the East Lake in Lake Placid. There are, however, terrific bargains to be found in the realm of Adirondack real estate.

One such steal is a lovely camp on offer on Mountain View Lake, a lovely body of water in the town of Duane, about 30 miles north of Saranac Lake. Listed by associate broker (and outdoor correspondent) Steve Reynolds, it’s a charming spread on six-tenths of an acre. A three-season cottage with two bedrooms, one full bath, a kitchen, a great room and a lovely screened porch comes with a converted ice house that can be used for storage. There’s 161 feet of water frontage and the place is kept private by a stand of massive pines. The price tag is $155,000.

Reynolds says the price here is remarkable, even though the location is relatively remote. He holds a record for a trade on Indian Lake (not to be confused with the larger body of water in the park’s south end), which connects with Mountain View. That property sold for $425,000, he said. In all, the two lakes offer about 3 miles of water, with ample opportunities for great fishing, ice fishing, boating and skiing.

While Reynolds has done very well with the luxury side of the market, he said he jumped at the chance to list this property.

“I have had to diversify my portfolio with a wider range of waterfront prices due to the market,” Reynolds said, adding that the Mountain View Lake camp is “a very solid investment.”

For more on the property, click here. You can reach Reynolds at (518) 524-0327.

Here are some more photos:

A view from the screened porch.

A view of the property’s frontage.

A rope swing hangs from one of the pines. Classic.

PROPERTY| Popple Point offers fantastic Adirondack frontage

Popple PointLooking down Blue Mountain Lake toward Blue Mountain from Popple Point, a property on offer from Steve Reynolds.

Few Adirondack destinations offer the tranquility of Blue Mountain Lake. The hamlet is minimal — I can think of less than 10 structures off the top of my head — and the main attractions are the Adirondack Museum and Syracuse University’s Minnowbrook Conference Center. Neither compare to the bustle of the Tri-Lakes villages.

On the waterfront, things are just as serene. Construction of any kind is rare. So, too, in general terms, are sales of property.

So I was surprised when I came across a listing for a 43-acre parcel on the lake’s Popple Point. The property, on offer from associate broker Steve Reynolds for $1.3 million includes 800 feet of frontage and Adirondack Park Agency approval for a single-family residence. Here’s the listing:

An extraordinary Adirondack setting. This 43 acre waterfront treasure offers a perfect family getaway on picturesque Blue Mountain Lake. Part of a private family enclave adjacent to State Wilderness and Wild Forest designated lands, it offers over 800 feet of lake frontage, undisturbed vistas and common use of some 2,000 acres. Direct boating access to Eagle and Utowana Lakes. APA approved for single family residence. Superb!

Quite obviously, $1.3 million is quite a bit of change, and there are many more affordable tracts for sale in the Adirondacks. There are very few, however, that boast the beauty, privacy and tranquility of this listing.

“Property like this doesn’t come up on Blue Mountain,” said Reynolds. “It’s an amazing park within a park. The last property to transact on that lake was just a right-away. They don’t come up. They don’t exist. Period.”

For more information, contact Reynolds. He can be reached at (518) 524-0327.

HOMES| Weather the storm and go off-grid with a Survival Property

BunkerThis above-ground bunker, allegedly built during the Cold War, is located in the high desert of Utah. It’s on offer via Survival Realty.

Worried about getting ensnared in the diabolical clutches of ObamaCare? Ruminating about the increasingly ludicrous zealotry of the Tea Party movement? No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, you may be planning an exit from the increasingly hostile fray.

If you’re leaning right, you’re in search of a property that’s large enough so that you and your kin can survive without “dependence.” If you lean left, you might be looking for a spread where you can raise organic alfalfa and get into artisanal cheese-making without fearing that a brick might come through your picture window.

Enter Survival Realty, an aggregation of “retreat” properties around the world. Pointed out to me by the Eaton Brothers, Maxwell and Alexander, both survivalists of their own sort, SR advertises homes, farms and compounds that include a combination of the following:

• A water source
• Small to large acreage
• Land for pasture or gardens
• Good topsoil
• A rural area
• A private, secluded property, which would be out of the way of any sort of trouble
• The ability to defend the retreat, in the case of a total collapse, in which crime becomes rampant.
• Potential for solar, wind, or microhydro power.

Take, for example, the Kayenta Bunker, located in Utah and pictured above. The seller writes:

“This was a bunker, supposedly built during the cold war, it is unique in that it is above ground. This property is located in a very remote; surrounded by BLM land for many miles.

“It is the only private land for 12 miles. There are hidden caves which I will show to the new owner. These caves have not likely seen any humans besides myself and my boys.

“The property comes with 2.3 acre feet of water, which needs to be drilled, but we have three thousand gallons of storage. We collect the rain and snow runoff from our roofs and that provides us with ample water for the year and then some. There are also a couple hundred thousand gallons stored very close which I will discuss with the new owner as well.”

The sellers say they’ll accept “a reasonable offer.”

And then there’s this property, a 38-acre spread in Arizona that Maxie was particularly taken with:

Survival2Image courtesy of Survival Realty.

The seller, who’s willing to take an offer as low as $32,000 writes:

Enjoy ‘the good life’ in year round sunshine on this easily defensible 38 acre Survival Retreat 28 miles east of the quiet little ranching town of St Johns, Arizona (population 3,300).Great southern exposure to make the most of the Southwest’s sunshine to power your retreat. The 38 acres is very easy to defend, located high on a bluff with a panoramic view overlooking the valley below. You can see a vehicle approaching your location 30 minutes before they reach you! (This would allow plenty of time to be get in on ‘on guard’ position, if desired) Yet, due to the gently rolling lay of the land and trees, your home would not be visible from the road. (These are two of the most important things that Jim Rawles recommends for retreat criteria) The bluff is protected by sheer cliffs on three sides making access next to impossible by all but foot traffic and even then very difficult for foot traffic on two sides. Most of land is wooded with scattered open grassy meadows of 5-10 acres each. Property has a lifetime supply of firewood, both living and well seasoned. Bordered on one side by one full section (640 acres) of BLM land to provide ample privacy and hunting opportunity.

Wow. For more properties on offer, visit Survival Realty. For more on survival living, which is apparently a vibrant subculture, visit

GREAT HOUSES | Darwin Martin House, a Wrightsian masterpiece

DMHThe Darwin Martin House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is one of Buffalo’s many architectural treasures.

During a recent sojourn in Buffalo, Mrs. F and I did something we should have done ages ago. We visited the Darwin D. Martin House, located just a few blocks from where we were married on Jewett Parkway in the city’s Parkside neighborhood.

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built between 1903 and 1905, the Martin house complex includes a carriage house, a conservatory, and two residences: the Martin House and the Barton House. Commissioned by Darwin D. Martin, an executive of the Larkin Soap Company, one of the corporations that made Buffalo an economic force in the early 20th century, the complex is considered one of the most important projects of Wright’s early career. Indeed, the two houses and the restored carriage house, conservatory and covered purgola that connects the conservatory to the Martin House, are shining examples of Wright’s signature Prairie style. Wright referred to the project as his opus and viewed its execution as near-perfect. In contrast to its neighbors — Buffalo is chock full of all manner of late Victorian and early 20th century residential architecture — the Martin complex is remarkable for its low profile, use of brick and distance from the excesses of late 19th century design.

We took a tour of the complex, which is still in the process of being restored. A huge number of leaded-glass windows need to be replaced and much of the interior of the Martin House needs considerable work. The Martin House Restoration Corporation, the not-for-profit organization that operates the property as a museum, needs to raise upward of $9 million to complete the project, which would include significant wood and tile work, restoration of the kitchen and the replacement of countless leaded-glass windows. Complete furnishings are also sought, we were told.

The Martins lived in the main house until a reversal in family fortunes forced them to abandon it in 1937. They were also forced to dispense with Graycliff, their equally remarkable Wright-designed summer residence in Derby, some 20 miles south of Buffalo. The house lingered into disrepair through the middle part of the century, having been divided into apartments. The purgola and conservatory were demolished in the 1960s. The property’s luck turned in 1967, when it was purchased for use as a president’s home by the University at Buffalo. That plan, however, never came to fruition and the home sat vacant until its transfer to the Martin House Restoration Corporation in 1994.

On the whole, I’ve never found Wright’s early work to be all that accessible or even livable. In contrast to the work of Gustav Stickley, the Rochester furniture designer and architect who lead the Arts and Crafts movement in the 1900s and 1910s, Wright’s early stuff seems almost alien. Pictures of the Martins inhabiting the space did help me envision the place, but it’s remarkable how clearly the architect broke with just about every convention. It’s definitely worth seeing and, to me, is one of Buffalo’s more enviable attractions. Get there when you’re next in town.

Darwin D. Martin House
125 Jewett Parkway
Buffalo, New York 14214
(716) 856-3858

DAY TRIP| Boscobel, the remarkable Dyckman family seat on the Hudson

BoscobelBoscobel, a Federal-style masterpiece, is framed by yesterday’s sunset.

Yesterday, we took a quick trip to Garrison to explore Boscobel, one of the finest examples of Federal-style architecture and interior design in the country.

Built between 1804 and 1808 for States Dyckman family in Montrose, Boscobel was one of the greatest estates in all of Westchester. The Dyckmans — yes, those Dyckmans of Upper Manhattan — owned the home for four generations, but by the end of the 19th century, the home and its estate had fallen into the county’s hands. Initially the site of a large county park, the Dyckman estate was sold to the federal government and eventually became the Montrose campus of the Veterans Administration’s Hudson Valley Healthcare system.

Boscobel was nearly lost in the 1950s, when the federal government sold the home to wreckers. Preservationists stepped in and, with a generous gift from Lila Acheson Wallace, publisher of Readers’ Digest, Boscobel was moved north 15 miles to Garrison.

Painstakingly restored, the home was opened to the public for the first time in 1960. In the mid-1970s, when documents that included an inventory of the Dyckmans’ furnishings and detailed descriptions of the home’s appearance, a second restoration was begun. In June 1977, Boscobel reopened to the public, having been brought back to the condition its original owners enjoyed by Berry B. Tracy. Tracy, curator of the Metropolitan Museum’s American Wing, redecorated the house to reflect its appearance under the stewardship of Elizabeth Corne Dyckman, the widow of States Dyckman who ran the estate until her death in 1823.

The subject of a recent feature in Martha Stewart Living, Boscobel has been on our list since Labor Day, when we visited nearby Cold Spring. We drove up to Garrison yesterday and were stunned not only by the house’s beauty — its neoclassical flourishes like carved swags, delicate balustrades and three-section windows were revolutionary when the place was built — but also by its views. Boscobel has complete visual command over its neighbor across the river, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the river valley below it. While all the leaves were down, we realized that the place must be quite lush at the height of summer. There’s also an orchard, an herb garden and a very nice rose garden.

It’s well worth the trip.

1601 State Route 9D
Garrison, New York 10524
(845) 265-3638

GREAT HOUSES| Cheery Lodge, an exceptional Lake Placid camp

CheeryCheery Lodge is an iconic East Lake camp currently on offer from Merrill L. Thomas for $8.95 million.

Built around 1910 as a clubhouse for the long-departed Ruisseaumont Club, Cheery Lodge is one of the greatest properties on Lake Placid’s east lake. For the last 50 years, it’s been owned by a leading Lake Placid family and is now on offer from Merrill L. Thomas.

The house, whose best features are a cathedral-ceilinged great room and a sprawling lawn that leads down to the lake, is one of loveliest Adirondack homes I’ve ever visited. Just about five years ago, I took Mrs. F, then Miss H., to a cocktail party for the Adirondack Friends of the Animals at Cheery Lodge. We were bowled over.

And so anyone would be. Sitting on 4.2 acres and boasting 11 bedrooms — seven for family and guests, four for staff— and seven-and-a-half baths, Cheery Lodge offers quite a bit of house.

From the Merill L. Thomas listing:

y. The main level is highlighted by an impressive two story great room with commanding views of the lake, a majestic fireplace and an original Hamner guideboat. The formal dining room accommodates fourteen guests and features water views, whitewashed oak paneling and its own cut-stone fireplace. Magnificent screened and open porches offer summer solace, evening sunsets or the perfect setting for a grand celebration. … The 3-slip enclosed boathouse and 285 feet of shoreline invite unlimited water activities including swimming at the sandy bottom beach, sailing, fishing and motor boating. A private Adirondack lean-to makes a great gathering place for cookouts and overnights.

On top of all of that, the house has a pretty swell history. It was once featured in a Town&Country spread and played host to the King and Queen of Sweden during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

Take a look at these additional photos, which highlight the great room and the property’s views of the East Lake:

GREAT HOUSES| Land’s End is one of the Adirondacks’ great retreats

LE 1Land’s End, a magnificent Upper Saranac Lake great camp built in 1931, is currently on offer from Merrill L. Thomas, the leading broker in the Adirondack Park.

Land’s End, which could lay a claim as the grandest camp property on Upper Saranac Lake, is for sale. The property, which includes a main lodge, a boathouse and other outbuildings on a 16-acre lakefront parcel, is basically turn-key and, compared with less properties in allegedly more-popular markets, is a very good bargain.

Here’s a description of the property from its listing agent:

This historic waterfront estate was originally constructed in 1931 for the duPont family. A restoration in 1993 brought Land’s End back to its original form. It is a symbol of 1930s architecture in the Adirondacks. The 12,000 square-foot main lodge offers 8 bedrooms, 8 full baths and 2 half-baths. Dramatic great room accented by post and beam trusses, fieldstone fireplace and custom bar with views of the lake. Stately dining room that will provide endless entertainment for you and your guests. Professional kitchen detailed with butler’s pantry, butcher block island, original cabinets, commercial appliances and walk-in cooler. Other distinctive highlights include 5 additional fireplaces, gameroom, separate structure with full workout facility. Two stall garage with caretaker’s quarters and a gardening shed for all your tools. Two story boathouse with one bedroom, two full baths and kitchen. A lean-to and fire pit are conveniently positioned on the water’s edge.

Land’s End is located on the northern shore of Upper Saranac lake. Access is year round. Minutes from Adirondack regional airport (4,400 square-foot airplane hangar available) and renowned Saranac Inn 18-hole golf course.

A level 16.6 acres with giant white pines growing throughout the property. 843 feet of sandy shoreline ensures easy access to the water. Wooden walkways sprawl the compound.

The property is on offer from Merrill L. Thomas, the Lake Placid-based brokerage. Steven L. Reynolds is the property’s broker. Steve can be reached at

To see a detailed listing, including more photos, click here.

And here are a few more photos:

LE 2

LE 3

LE 4

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