Pre-Revolutionary Farmhouse for Sale; Tour Gorgeous Westchester Gardens; Home Sales—Up or Down?



1. House of the Week: Pre-Revolutionary Farmhouse

$1.46 million

Annual property taxes: $25,650

8 Thomas St, Greenburgh (Scarsdale P.O.)

One of Westchester’s oldest homes is now on the market, a 1736 (no, that’s not a typo!), pre-Revolution farmhouse where the French army’s battalion commander reportedly lived. “It’s really unique—I’ve never seen anything like it in Westchester,” says listing agent Marilyn Berman. “At one time, it had been occupied by the French army as a lookout tower. And, although it’s been updated, it still has so many original features, including seven original fireplaces. It sits very high up, with a great view into White Plains from the living room.” Now a six-bedroom, three-story, single-family home, the property retains hints of its fascinating past—from the “keeping room” (with its original brick cooking fireplace and curved stairway leading to the main floor), the sitting room that adjoins the living room, and the music room to the entry that was formerly a tavern and even a brick fireplace (now painted white) in the master bath. Updates, including the spacious country kitchen, have been made completely in keeping with the home’s original historic style. No doubt, the property’s secluded hilltop positioning next to a wide expanse of land (now the Sunningdale Golf Club) must have been ideal for the French army’s enemy watch. For more information, contact Coldwell Banker listing agent Marilyn Berman at (914) 582-7727 or visit coldwellbankermoves.com.            

 

2. Westchester’s Garden Open Days Seasonal Opening

The beginning of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days is always a certain sign of spring. This year’s first peek into some of Westchester’s exquisite private gardens begins on Sunday, April 29, with self-guided tours (rain or shine) at two stellar locations:

Bedrock

The “Bedrock,” home of Mr. And Mrs. Coleman Burke at 52 Hood Road in Bedford, features a multi-level perennial garden enclosed by old stone walls and complementing a 200-year-old farmhouse and red barn. Set on the curve of a dirt road, the garden features views of the Beaver Dam River and a winding path that leads to a naturalistic pool flanked by two giant boars and framed by a rock garden.

The White Garden

Photo courtesy of The Garden Conservancy

The White Garden, Lewisboro

The native oak–hickory forest provides a perfect setting for the modern Greek Revival–style house at 199 Elmwood Road in Lewisboro with gardens designed by Patrick Chassé. The classically inspired gardens nearest the house include a nymphaeum, pergola garden, labyrinth, and theater court. Additional hidden gardens feature a perennial ellipse, an annuals garden, a conservatory “jungle” garden, and an Asian-inspired moss garden. Several water features, sculptures, and native plantings also accent the landscape while swans guard the Temple of Apollo on an island in the main pond. Woodland walking paths (where more than 200,000 daffodils bloom in spring) weave over a meandering brook and through a shady dell. Other tour treats include several glass houses and a state-of-the-art greenhouse. Head gardener Eric Schmidt, responsible for the property’s rich garden plantings, will be on hand to answer questions. The White Garden will open its doors again on September 9.

Order ticket booklets at www.gardenconservancy.org/opendays/ticket or pay $5 cash at each Open Day garden (The Bedrock is open from 10 am to 4 pm, and The White Garden is open from 10 am to 3 pm). For more information, call (845) 265-5384. Stay tuned for more on Westchester’s 22 Open Days that continue through the fall.

 

 

3. Greening Your Community and Your Home

Photo courtesy of Friends of the Highbrook Highline

Pelham residents who participated in the village’s Planet Day of Service last Saturday not only had a chance to help make their community a little greener, but also pick up valuable tips on planting native plants in their own gardens. The event, which is green industry professionals’ annual hands-on commitment to Earth Day, capped a series of steps in a collaborative effort by the village of Pelham and Greener by Design in TK to restore land between Harmon and Lincoln Avenues that was formerly part of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway for potential public green-space in the future. In addition to guiding participants in planting trees, shrubs, ground covers, and native plants, Greener by Design (a local organic landscaping company with Pelham roots) also provided educational takeaways on the benefits of native plants and responsible landscaping. “Our company culture is to give back to the community in a sustainable way,” explains Greener by Design CEO Richard Heller. “This project maximizes Pelham’s limited public green-space, brings into focus an important piece of the town’s history, and provides an opportunity to bring the community into the process.” Plants installed include bear berry ground cover, Viburnum shrubs, Witch-hazel flowering plants, and white spruce, evergreen, and deciduous trees. For more information about Greener by Design, visit www.greenerdesigns.com or to follow the restoration project’s progress, visit www.highbrookhighline.com

 

 

4. Westchester Real Estate Market First Quarter Report

Houlihan Lawrence recently released its market report for the first quarter of 2012 showing surging sales of homes in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties. It also revealed that number of homes under contract is at their highest level since 2005. The report indicates a number of encouraging key trends in Westchester:

·      Pending home sales were up 31 percent over the same quarter last year

·      Closed sales of single-family homes were up 1.1 percent

·      Pending sales under $500,000 are up 44 percent from first quarter 2011, representing the highest first quarter level in that price range since 2003

·      Contracts to purchase Westchester homes above $2.5 million are up 34 percent from first quarter 2011

“The next two quarters will tell whether we are truly at the beginning stage of a new long-term bull market for spring, or if the surprising strength of this quarter fades,” Houlihan Lawrence COO Christopher Meyers comments.

 

5. Tip of the Week

“If you’re a serious buyer, have a pre-approved mortgage commitment from a bank on hand. The pre-approval is good for 60 to 90 days, leaving only the appraisal to worry about. Taking this step will save you a ton of time and aggravation since your employment, credit, tax returns, and salary will have all been verified. More importantly, it will tell you how much buying power you really have. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a house, then finding you can’t afford it.” Susan Slotnick, Prudential Centennial

  

We welcome information about fascinating homes on the market or real estate/home-related news and events—send to Karen Odom at kodom@westchestermagazine.com.

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About This Blog

White Plains resident and writer Karen Odom has a passion for interesting architecture, especially when architecture and history collide. Her extensive experience as a real estate feature writer has led her in an around Westchester's distinctive homes uncovering the fascinating stories behind the houses, their owners, architects, and designers with awe, admiration, and more than just a little amazing curiosity.

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