407 Centre Island Rd - Centre Island, New York
If you are looking for a home where you could live “happily ever after”, this enchanting 5.6-acre estate on bucolic Centre Island has a story to tell, one of romance and love that lasted a lifetime… for two couples. It started with J. Clinton Mackenzie, an architect, who built his own dream home in 1908 on the island overlooking the confluence of Oyster Bay and Cold Spring harbors. An acquaintance fell in love with his summer estate and asked Clinton to build him a similar home. And he did – next door. Both homes were different but alike in their Spanish Renaissance style, but in keeping with the nautical locale, Clinton’s house had a red tile roof, and his client, Henry Rusch, a Swiss banker, had a green tile roof. Henry and his wife loved “June Acres”, where they had a gentleman’s farm with cows, chickens, and many outbuildings including a carriage house and water tower. They lived there the rest of their lives. Another man, Carter Bales (also in finance) and his wife, Suzy, discovered the Rusch estate, overgrown from standing untended for a few years, and fell in love with the style and spectacular location. Both being conservationists, they tackled the property with Suzy taking the lead. In her quest to transform the land into something beautiful, she became an authority on gardening. With a Masters in literature, she started writing about what she learned, and as the years ensued, she not only transformed the property into a veritable Garden of Eden, she became a beloved author of 14 gardening books, wrote a column for the New York Times, and was a garden editor for Family Circle and Better Homes & Gardens. The gardens have been featured in tours and in print and include a vegetable garden, rose garden, espalier fence, a woodland stroll garden, perennial gardens, and a winter garden – all planted for four seasons of interest and with no chemicals or pesticides. For added enjoyment, many water features were added such as ponds, streams, and fountains. Perhaps that is why the estate was renamed “Frog’s Song.” The Bales’ also transformed all those outbuildings into charming areas for entertaining including a four-bedroom carriage house, quaint guest cottage, potting shed and a fully appointed woodworking shop. A college tennis champion, Suzy also added a tennis court plus an inground Gunite pool, spacious gated surround, flower garden, and gazebo – all overlooking the harbor. A deep-water dock with floating extensions provided easy access for visitors’ boats, and an expansive stone patio, on the edge of a bluff above the beach, provided a great place to relax in the shade and enjoy the summer breezes off the water. Suzy and Carter lived out their lives in this magical place that shared their presence with a home in the city. To end this romantic tale, a movie director, Bart Freundlich, chose their estate to film “After the Wedding” that was released in the summer of 2019. Of all the places he inspected, the gardens, the water views, and the gorgeous mansion made this the perfect setting for the film. In fact, he enjoyed it so much, he stayed in the guest cottage during the shoot. As enchanting as the estate’s grounds are, the eight-bedroom, seven-bath, one-powder-room estate is, in itself, a charming destination – ideal for both relaxation, with a casual New England country ambiance, and for entertaining on a grand scale with spacious rooms, high ceilings, a myriad of generous screened windows begging to be opened to the gentle coastal winds, several large verandas and balconies overlooking the water, beautifully updated luxury baths, charming built-ins, hardwood floors, many gorgeous European styled, carved-marble fireplaces exquisite detailing throughout. Examples include the magnificent three-story mahogany staircase with individually hand-turned balusters, intricate crown moldings, and oversized arched French doors connecting the spacious entrance foyer with the grand living and dining rooms. Unique features encompass a playroom off the eat-in kitchen, which connects to a second kitchen and breakfast room. A nearby sitting room opens to a glorious solarium/greenhouse, complete with sunken spa. Every room on the second and third floors feels like a warm hug with such delightful appointments. The master suite is an idyllic retreat with luxury master bath, walk-in closets, a study, a dressing room, and two balconies off a palatial master bedroom. All guest accommodations on the property are equally captivating. With a ten-minute breathtaking scenic drive around the harbor from the Oyster Bay Village train station (with about an hour commute to Manhattan), you are practically guaranteed to feel the pressures of the day melt away by the time you reach your estate. Separating Oyster Bay from Cold Spring Harbor, Centre Island Village covers about one square mile, has about 180 homes and less than 400 residents living on some of the most valuable land in the nation. Some of its notable residents include Billy Joel, Alan J. Lerner, Rupert Murdoch, and Sean Hannity. If the romance and beauty of this grand estate hasn’t already convinced you of its superb value, perhaps it’s recent reduction in price will. Be the third family in 100 years to fall in love with this Gold Coast paradise and live happily ever after.
This listing courtesy of Douglas Elliman