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Hearth and Home

The holidays have officially arrived, and if that means you start dreaming of chestnuts roasting in an open fire, then a fireplace is a must for you. A source of warmth and a place to gather and tell stories, no two fireplaces are alike. Join us as we take a look at some of the finest in the Hudson Valley today in a variety of styles:

61 woods

Rustic and inviting, 61 Woods Road in Snedens Landing is the perfect setting for a holiday gathering. Once home to Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer, the circa 1920s home is built into the Palisades and has extraordinary views of the Hudson River.

99 river road

Willow Knoll at 99 River Road in Grandview was built in 1891 by Joseph Ellicott, the inventor of the air brake and the first commodore of the Tappan Zee Yacht Club. Chris Sapinoff, a previous owner in the 1930’s, was a Bulgarian silversmith who created numerous design patterns carved onto beams, mantels and woodwork throughout the house and cottage.

4 old cranberry

4 Old Cranberry Road in Sloatsburg is located on Cranberry Lake in Pierson Lakes, a private, gated community surrounded by thousands of acres of parkland. The custom designed home offers a rustic theme with stone, stucco, antique barn beams, distressed woodwork and numerous fireplaces both inside and out. There also is a large covered porch with fireplace.

530 n broadway

530 North Broadway in Upper Nyack was once home to Warren Haynes, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band. The open living room has a unique fireplace, as well as wet bar, wine fridge and ice maker.

1082 Rte 9w

1082 Rt. 9W in Upper Grandview is circa 1911. It has three total fireplaces and was once owned by a countess and visited by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a bygone era.

Oak Tree

Named for this charming hamlet’s first blacksmith, the Jesse Trenchard House was built in 1780 and is one of the oldest houses in the bucolic Palisades historic district. The renovated Dutch colonial was awarded preservation citations for the historically accurate restoration of the colonial house and appropriateness of the modern addition. It is full of period details with large, gracious fireplaces in the living and dining rooms.

374 s mtn

374 S. Mountain Road in New City is situated on 6.7 park-like leveled private acres on one of the most desirable roads in New City. The fireplace exemplifies the clean lines of a more modern style.

245 river rd

245 River Road in Grandview is a 19th Century Greek Revival overlooking the Hudson River. It features period fireplace mantels and fine appointments.

122 circuit

122 Circuit Road in Tuxedo Park is a magnificent historic home, originally built as a summer cottage around 1890 for John H. Foster with beautiful architectural details. The living room has a 17th century English fireplace.

26 Woods Road, Snedens Landing

The Whitney House in Palisades is a mid-century marvel designed for a descendant of one of America’s most important art families and the former childhood home of actress Angelina Jolie. The welcoming fireplace is a beautiful centerpiece for the living room.


Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty’s Nancy Swaab Earns SRS Designation

Nan Swaab280x400Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty today announced that Nancy Swaab, associate real estate broker, has earned the prestigious Seller Representative Specialist designation awarded by the Real Estate Business Institute.

The designation, introduced in 2006, “elevates professional standards, enhances individual performance and recognizes real estate professionals who demonstrate the knowledge and skills essential in professionally and ethically representing sellers,” the institute said.

The National Association of REALTORS® recognizes current SRS designees for adhering to the REALTOR Code of Ethics, the highest ethical standards in the industry.

Swaab, a resident of Piermont Landing along the Hudson River, began her real estate career in 1978. She holds associate broker licenses in New York and New Jersey.

She previously was involved in the marketing and sale of several celebrity homes in Alpine, New Jersey. Since moving to Piermont Landing, she has been involved in the Piermont Community Garden as well as the Piermont Civic Association. She specializes in Hudson River waterfront properties.

“I am proud of Nan and her continued pursuit of excellence,” said Richard Ellis, owner of Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty. “The Seller Representative Specialist designation is the essential credential for seller representation and reflects her commitment to the high level of service she provides her clients.”


Hudson Valley: A Haven for Celebrity Real Estate

Vivien LeighAngelina JolieOrson WellesDiane SawyerBill MurryMike WallaceBjörkDixie CarterGypsy Rose LeeMikhail BaryshnikovLorraine Bracco

Photos: Wikipedia Creative Commons

There is something about the Hudson Valley that has attracted well-known people for decades. Perhaps it is the natural beauty that musicians and artists have long been inspired by, or maybe it is the privacy it affords with easy access to New York City. Whatever the reason, we have been fortunate to help several cultural icons find their homes here. Join me as we take a tour of some of the Hudson Valley’s most well-known residences, beginning with those that are currently on the market.


The Whitney House” certainly has had its share of provenance. This iconic circa 1959 mid-century contemporary home at 26 Woods Road in Snedens Landing was designed for a descendant of one of America’s most important art families and was the former childhood home of Angelina Jolie. Today it is for sale by world-renowned conductor, Eugene Kohn.


Gypsy Rose Lee house

American burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee enjoyed her home at 187 City Highway 105 in Highland Mills. The circa 1901 Colonial Revival style home was restored and is set on 6.8 private acres.

cliff house

Cliff House” at 40 Lawrence Lane in Snedens Landing was once home to Lorraine Bracco and Ellen Burstyn. The private riverfront home is only 25 minutes from New York City.

61 woods

This circa 1920’s stone house in Palisades was built into the cliffs, with extraordinary views of the Hudson River. It was built by members of the Tonetti family, pioneers in Snedens Landing who raised the bar for the arts, and was once home to Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer.


Music aficionados will love 530 North Broadway, which was once home to Warren Haynes, guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band. Situated on 1.7 park-like acres, the home offers seasonal Hudson River views.

Celebrity homes that already have been sold to new owners include:


Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty Team Tours American Art Sale at Sotheby’s Auction House

11-2016 Auction Event

Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty agents and staff participated in a tour of the recent Sotheby’s Auction House American Art Sale.

The Nov. 20 tour was a prize auctioned during an Oct. 15 benefit cosponsored by Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty and the Edward Hopper House in Nyack to support local arts education. The benefit raised $21,300.

Richard Ellis, owner of Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty, was the winning bidder of the tour. In addition to the specialist-led tour of the exhibition, his team explored Sotheby’s worldwide headquarters in New York and 19th century paintings and Latin American modern and contemporary art on display in conjunction with an auction.

“It was very exciting and insightful to explore our connection with the Sotheby’s Auction House,” said Ellis. “Our team enjoyed seeing the priceless items that were up for sale and learning more about the auction business.”

The American Art sale the team toured brought in $28.6 million during the official auction held on Nov. 21. The sale was led by Norman Rockwell’s “Which One?,” which appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post prior to the 1944 presidential election and sold for $6.5 million.

The Oct. 15 fundraiser was held at Glen Iris on the Hudson River, home of New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur S. Tompkins during the first half of the last century and, later, Norman Rose, the late actor best known as the voice of fictitious coffee grower Juan Valdez in Colombian coffee television commercials. The 8,200-square-foot, move-in-ready home currently is listed with Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty for $3.495 million.


Buying Land in Tuxedo Park

Tuxedo Park is a historic village in New York that never seems to go out of style- very much like the tuxedo itself.  An exclusive 2,600-acre gated enclave – said to be the country’s first gated community, in fact, and yes, where the tuxedo was first worn- Tuxedo Park is 40 miles and some 45 minutes from Midtown Manhattan, making it an idyllic second home destination as well.  I was happy to sit down with our in-house Tuxedo Park expert Barbara du Pont to get her take on the current state of the market and the growing interest in land parcels for sale.

Lookout Stable Road is for sale and was just reduced to $350,000

Lookout Stable Road is for sale and was just reduced to $350,000

Richard Ellis: Can you tell us about the current inventory in Tuxedo Park available to prospective buyers?

Barbara du Pont: While we have seen a market recovery this year, which has caused a reduction in inventory, there is still a wide range of great properties for sale. But what I find interesting about the current market is a rise in buyer interest in land and an increase in land coming up for sale.

RE: What do you attribute this increase in interest to?

BdP: There is a rise in appreciation for how unusual the Village of Tuxedo Park is due to the historic preservation of its natural landscape and viewsheds.

This past October, the Race Track was dedicated as our community’s Nature Preserve. With the consent of the Board of Trustees and encouragement of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the 21-acre Race Track will be transformed into a Nature Preserve. This will be a multi-year community project funded entirely by private donations and government grants. The Race Track was the site of the Tuxedo Park Horse Show during the Gilded Age. Abandoned since the 1940s, nature has claimed it as a biodiverse sanctuary: more than 300 trees and plants have been identified by naturalist John Yrizarry, environmental consultant J.G. Barbour and Bowman Hill Wildflower Preserve. Some 200 species of bird nest there or use as a flyway, while countless mammals, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies call it home. This level of biodiversity is rare in the Lower Hudson Valley.

This private lakefront lot in Tuxedo Park is available for $800,000

This private lakefront lot in Tuxedo Park is available for $800,000

RE: What has the market been for land lately? 

BdP: This year we started to see a recovery in home sales which have been sluggish over the last 10 years and we are optimistic that land sales will follow.  We are seeing more interest in people looking for building lots. Until this year, the last sale was in 2013, and there were only five sales from 2009 to 2013.  However, interest is picking up and there have been two sales in 2016, including one parcel on Tuxedo Lake.

The land at Summit Road in Tuxedo Park is available for $980,000

The land at Summit Road in Tuxedo Park is available for $980,000

RE: Why is this a great opportunity for buyers? 

BdP: Currently there are eight lots for sale in Tuxedo Park and only two are lakefront.  Also keep in mind this is in the context of an inventory of homes that has decreased to the lowest point in a decade. There are very few homes listed that are in move-in condition, so some buyers really are more interested in building to their specifications, rather than doing extensive repairs and remodeling.  Buyers appreciate the natural beauty of Tuxedo Park and that choosing the right site, which can afford more privacy, wooded surroundings or sweeping views, is often most important.


Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Launches Apple TV App

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 10.31.23 AM

Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC today announced the launch of the Sotheby’s International Realty® Apple TV app, available now on all 4th generation Apple TV devices. The app showcases nearly 50,000 properties currently represented by the Sotheby’s International Realty brand worldwide, giving consumers the opportunity to explore homes on a screen larger than ever before.

App highlights include:

  • The ability to explore properties listed by the Sotheby’s International Realty brand worldwide by city, state, country or lifestyle, either through entered text or Siri dictation.
  •  A powerfully visual experience, offering expertly curated high-resolution photography and high-definition videography.
  •  The opportunity to directly contact sales associates, share a property via email, save recent location searches and bookmark favorite properties.
  •  A Game Mode where players can view captivating property photos and guess the location of origin.
  •  The ability to access Recent Searches and Favorited properties directly on the Apple TV home screen’s “Top Row.”

“The Sotheby’s International Realty Apple TV app allows the process of finding a home to become a collective, interactive experience,” said Christian Russo, director of interactive marketing – media & platforms, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “We are committed to providing an elevated design that provides the best visual experience a consumer can have. With this app, we are inviting families to come together on the couch and immerse themselves in the home-buying conversation.”

To learn more about the Sotheby’s International Realty Apple TV app, visit sothebysrealty.com/appletv. The app can be downloaded from the Apple TV app store by searching for “Sotheby’s International Realty.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 20,000 sales associates located in more than 850 offices in 65 countries and territories worldwide. Sotheby’s International Realty listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, each firm’s brokers and their clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.


South Mountain Road: An Artist’s Playground

In the second part of our two-part series on Snedens Landing and South Mountain Road, we look at South Mountain Road and how it has evolved over recent generations.  My firm currently has four properties listed for sale there, and it renewed my interest in the area’s historical provenance and its attraction for artists and creatives.

As we discussed in our last blog, for those looking to purchase real estate in this part of the Hudson Valley, many were torn between Snedens Landing and South Mountain Road.  My observation is that the South Mountain “Roaders” tend to have an adventurous spirit and a passion for the rural landscape.

Life as a Roader

374 South Mountain Road is just 40 minutes to New York City and listed for $1.299 million.

374 South Mountain Road is just 40 minutes to New York City and listed for $1.299 million.

Like Snedens Landing, South Mountain Road has consistently attracted a distinctive artistic community of writers, actors and artists, from poet Maxwell Anderson- whose home we currently have listed- to composer Kurt Weill and his wife, singer/actress Lotte Lenya.  Other members of this informal artists’ colony include director and producer John Houseman and painter Henry Varnum Poor. In the late 1970s Mick Jagger lived on South Mountain Road.

As background, South Mountain Road is a historic road on the northern border of New City. The name is not directional, however, as there is no North Mountain Road- it gets its name from being on the south of the mountain, which by the way, was the name of a Broadway show, written by South Mountain Road resident, Maxwell Anderson. The road itself winds against the mountainside and has historic roots back to the Revolutionary War. Homes are tucked away on the hillside in a country setting.

637 South Mountain Road is a custom-designed all brick home available for $1.425 million.

637 South Mountain Road is a custom-designed all brick home available for $1.425 million.

The road also has ties to the most important art show in American history- “The Armory Show” of 1913 in New York City- which introduced European Avant-garde art to America including Fauvism Cubism and Futurism.  Prior to that, Americans were used to Realism, certainly nothing experimental.  Two local Rockland residents were responsible for coordinating this show: artist Arthur B. Davies and South Mountain roader and sculptor John Frederick Mowbray-Clarke.

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of working with the Mowbray-Clarke family, representing them in the sale of their family homestead to Ramapo Township as green space.

635 South Mountain Road is a modern home perched high against the hillside, available for $1.395 million.

635 South Mountain Road is a modern home perched high against the hillside, available for $1.395 million.

In my Snedens Landing blog, I mentioned that I recently found an article from July 1952 for Park East magazine by Pamela Whittaker, where she details the lifestyles of Snedens Landing and South Mountain Road.  It was interesting to see her note that those “qualities which stem from similarities in occupation and age make the South Mountain Road colony similar to that in Snedens.  Otherwise the two are quite different and definitely separate, mildly but inactively interested in each other.”

It is also interesting to note that in 1952 she observed that South Mountain Road was capable of considerable expansion, being physically larger than Snedens Landing.  It appears that South Mountain Road at the time grew as a sort of bohemian version of Snedens.  “There was a more pronounced emphasis on the arts and crafts as such than ever obtained in Snedens, and much time was spent discussing things artistic and philosophical.  Many Roaders combined their craft abilities with the rustic life and built their own homes and furniture, wove their own materials, and went in for chickens and gardens and canning.”

430 South Mountain Road is an elegant variation of a Romanesque-style stone home, defined by its stone arches, two towers and a tall hip roof, available for $2.595 million.

430 South Mountain Road is an elegant variation of a Romanesque-style stone home, defined by its stone arches, two towers and a tall hip roof, available for $2.595 million.

While you generally will not find that type of rustic existence anymore, the spirit of bohemian art is still alive and well on South Mountain Road, just as a love for art in all its forms and community is still cultivated in Snedens Landing.  It leaves one to wonder how much both areas will change in another 60 years.


Haunted House: The Legend of 1 La Veta Place, Nyack

Every Halloween you can be sure to see costumed children collecting candy and carved pumpkins adorning windows- but if you live in Nyack you are guaranteed to also hear about the legend of 1 La Veta Place, which was deemed a legally haunted house in 1991 by the New York Supreme Court.

1 La Veta Place, Nyack

1 La Veta Place, Nyack

Over more than two decades I have had the opportunity to represent it for sale twice, and have an insider’s view of what has affectionately become known as the “Ghostbusters House.”

Take a step back in time to the late 1980s, and I was at the start of my career as a real estate broker. I was asked to represent 1 La Veta Place, a late 1800s house that had been on the market for a couple of years with another brokerage. The owner, Mrs. Ackley, was very proud of her house, but insisted she wasn’t the only inhabitant.  She described two women in hoop dresses and a little man in a Revolutionary War era red coat that also would visit.  The only catch is they were not living. This fact didn’t seem to disturb Mrs. Ackley, but I remember I would often get nervous going down to the very large, dark basement to put on whatever few lights there were!

After about a year a buyer was interested and put a deposit down. Right before it closed, the seller asked us to advise the buyers of the ghost visitors, which we did. They still wanted to proceed and jokingly said they would call the “ghostbusters in,” referring to the popular movie of the time.

Two weeks after contracts were signed, however, the buyers had a change of heart, and the rest as they say, is history.  The case went to court, and while my firm and I were released from the case, the owner/seller was held liable.  Ultimately the case settled out of court, but along the way the New York Supreme Court ruled the home legally haunted.

New York News Day, 1991

New York News Day, 1991

As a result, New York State real estate license law changed for a brief time, requiring the broker to have to automatically disclose if a home owner said they had a ghost. Since then the home has gone down in pop culture history, with media from all over covering the story.

When the home went back on the market, I showed it to several clients and one would tell stories of feeling something brush against him in the hallway. Eventually the home sold for about the same price as it would have sold the first time.

Fast forward to about 2012, the third owner after Mrs. Ackley called us to list the home for sale. While the owners didn’t mention the ghosts, the first day I had a showing there, I had my own supernatural experience. As I went around the house putting the lights on, the door bell rang as I made my way to the Tower Room on the top floor.  The clients had just arrived to view the home. As I put the last light on a light bulb burst and a small fire started.  The flame grew larger and a nearby shade caught fire before I could put it out.

Was it a ghost I encountered that day? Did they object to the house changing hands again?  Many in the psychic world say there is no such thing as coincidence.  Perhaps the activity at 1 La Veta Place was simply an old soul wanting me to know they were still there. We will never know for sure… one thing is certain, however, the next time you hear a creek in the floor or a voice in the night, just keep moving forward and don’t look back.  Happy Halloween!!!


Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty and Edward Hopper House Raise $21,300 for Local Arts Education

elllis_hopper_house_benefit_101516_9769Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty and Edward Hopper House raised $21,300 during a recent event to support arts education in local schools and the Edward Hopper House in Nyack.

The Oct. 15 benefit drew 145 attendees and featured an online and live auction of several items, notably the opportunity to spend a night in Edward Hopper’s bedroom as reimagined by Architectural Digest’s featured designer Ernest de la Torre and architect Walter Cain, with dinner and breakfast for two included. While new bedding was used, Hopper’s original headboard and frame were placed in the room, as were one of his easels and three distinct settings derived directly from Hopper’s work.

The event’s Auction for a Cause will benefit arts education in Hudson Valley public schools. Guest speakers included Richard Kendall, art historian and former curator at the Clark Art Institute, and Randy Williams, Manhattanville College professor and artist. The live auction was conducted by special guest magician and auctioneer Benjamin Levy, whose many accomplishments include performing at President Obama’s 50th birthday celebration.


Guests bid on the opportunity to attend a Nov. 20 brunch reception for 10 guests celebrating the American Art sale at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York that will feature a specialist-led tour of the exhibition. Attendees also heard from two local art students who spoke about their work and what art has meant in their lives. A silent auction featured several works of art from local artists as well as a guided tour of homes and sites painted by Edward Hopper.

“I’m very happy with the results of our benefit to raise funds and awareness to provide art education in public schools and support the Edward Hopper House,” said Richard Ellis, owner of Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty. “It was a holistic experience, as we accomplished our mission and created a synergy between our agents and agents from the Sotheby’s International Realty Manhattan Brokerage and the Hopper House staff.

“Working for the same meaningful cause builds trust and relationships. The most touching moment was hearing a local high school student speak about how art classes helped him build confidence, friendships and self-esteem. This truly reinforces the importance of our mission. We hope to make this event an annual benefit to build awareness and support for children and teenagers and their arts education needs.”

401 North Broadway Upper Nyack, New York | $3,495,000

401 North Broadway Upper Nyack, New York | $3,495,000

The fundraiser was held at Glen Iris on the Hudson River, home of New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur S. Tompkins during the first half of the last century and, later, Norman Rose, the late actor best known as the voice of fictitious coffee grower Juan Valdez in Colombian coffee television commercials. The 8,200 square foot, move-in-ready home currently is listed with Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty for $3.495 million.

“This event single-handedly will enable us to start arts education partnerships in Nyack and the surrounding public schools,” said Jennifer Patton EdD, executive director of Edward Hopper House. “Thanks to the monies raised at this event, we can begin using Edward Hopper-based curriculum in these schools. We also will be able to use studio space in the Edward Hopper House for hands-on projects when students visit. It is business and nonprofit partnerships like this that make the most tremendous difference in a community. Now we can meet the needs of classroom and art teachers, integrating art to create interdisciplinary curriculum.”