Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Best Old House (1 of 4)
REMEMBER: YOU CAN CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM, AND CLICK AGAIN TO ENLARGE THEM EVEN MORE.
In the spring of 1975, while serving on a Manhattan drug trial jury, I noticed an ad in the New York Times for a country house for rent in Tuxedo Park, NY. The phone number turned out to be for a firm of family retainers, one of whom the following weekend showed me the house. Seeing Tuxedo for the first time, even in its damaged 1970s condition, was like discovering heaven. The house in the ad was called Sunny Rock, built in 1905 for one Ambrose Monell, famous among other things for the invention of a nickel alloy that bore his name. The last owner had died, his son was working in Paris, and the estate decided the house was better rented than left untenanted. My fraternity brother Jimmy and his future wife Libby went in on it with me and my future wife Randi. We rented Sunny Rock for a year, fully furnished, for $500 a month.
Sunny Rock was sited on a rugged hillside with a single drive for both family and service vehicles. This is the vehicular passage leading from the formal courtyard in front of the house to the service area behind. Under the arch to the right was a room filled with firewood so well aged it barely took more than a match to turn into a roaring fire. Note the workmanship in stone on the bay window.
This is a view of a lake view piazza accessed from the main floor drawing room via a heavy glass door. There's just a glimpse of the 1905 picture window that provided a view of the lake from indoors. How about that stonework, and the beautiful dressed stone eaves.
Here's my black cat Smokey, gone these thirty years, on the piazza at Sunny Rock. Those sliding glass panels warded off chilly evening breezes, an old-time solution to a perennial problem.
The view from the piazza, after Jimmy and I cut down a couple of trees.