In prosperous eras of the past, sprawling estates embellished with long, winding driveways, guest cottages and amenities were built and handed down through the generations. Some, like a 1920s “castle” in San Diego or Linden Hill, a property nearly the size of a French village along Philadelphia’s Main Line, were designed by celebrated architects of their time. Rarely have these legacy homes come on the market—until now.
While the residences’ vast acreage and square footage were initially considered assets, in recent decades many homeowners with smaller families didn’t necessarily need the space or want to maintain such grand holdings. But Covid-19 changed some clients’ cravings, says Sean Matthews of Compass Real Estate in Santa Barbara. “That level of buyer is now looking strategically for a property that suits those pandemic-generated needs for privacy and safety.” One of his listings, the $109 million Rancho Cariñoso owned by the descendants of an oil tycoon, is zoned to stable horses, something that is hard to come by with a new build.
But it’s not just the shift in mindset that’s influencing purchasers’ desires this past year. “Inflation is definitely a driving factor in today’s luxury market. Sophisticated, ultrahigh-net-worth buyers understand that real estate is still one of the best hedges against rising inflation,” Matthews says. And “zoning changes, stricter building regulations, mixed with supply-chain issues lead to rising building costs. The more expensive it is for developers to build, the higher the price tag. That’s what makes these large legacy estates so special—whether it’s the amount of land, the exclusive location, multiple structures or the rare amenities, in most cases, these properties could never be duplicated again.”
However, some sellers, such as Linden Hill’s owners—who purchased the magnificent estate built by the heirs to the Campbell Soup fortune—are getting creative. They’re keeping the main house on one $8.5 million parcel and selling the substantial surrounding acreage off as four other individual lots, using zoning revisions to their advantage. A smart legacy.
Pool: Apogee House, Vail, Colo.
Suspended over the side of a Colorado mountain, this spectacular, glimmering pool stretches across 75 feet. Its underside and one end are made of crystal-clear acrylic, allowing swimmers to gaze down at a flickering firepit below. Or to look across at the snow-capped Gore Range mountains in the distance. A crane hoisted the three massive sections over the top of the house—in thick snow—and ever-so-gently lowered each one in place. This stunning lap pool is arguably the headline feature of the $40 million Apogee House, an ultra-modern 8,800-square-foot architectural gem minutes away from Vail Village and its world-class skiing. Completed in 2019 from a design by local architect Hans Berglund, the glass-filled home also features over 6,500 square feet of heated decking, along with a glass-sided roof deck.
Legacy Property: Linden Hill, Philadelphia, Penn.
Home for more than half a century to Campbell Soup heir John T. Dorrance—he invented the concept of condensing soup—Linden Hill is like a quaint French-Normandy village air-lifted to the outskirts of Philadelphia. Dating from the late 1920s, the 67-acre spread features a stately, 14,400-square-foot, 20-room main house set around an elegant courtyard, a turreted caretaker’s cottage, a horse stable, a 10-car garage, two swimming pools, a barn and an array of outbuildings. For bird enthusiasts, one of the home’s highlights is its whimsical stone aviary with a tiled roof and wrought-iron cages. Since 1992, the estate has been owned by venture capitalist and entrepreneur Bob Burch—brother-in-law to fashion designer Tory Burch. With the entire property having languished on the market since 2013, Burch is now splitting the estate into five roughly 10-acre parcels, with the exquisite main house listed for $8.5 million.
Penthouse: The Woolworth Pinnacle
This condo soars 727 feet above Manhattan’s bustling avenues and occupies a formidable five floors of the neo-Gothic pile that is the Woolworth Building. The unit’s actually eight stories high, with double-height ceilings and at the very peak, a stunning 408-square-foot observatory terrace offering views across the skyline, the Hudson River and all the way to the Atlantic. Inside, the 9,680 square feet of space was intentionally left unfinished by developer Alchemy Properties to provide a prospective buyer with a blank canvas. Much of the architectural character was preserved, but one change Alchemy did make was the addition of 125 windows set into the $79 million penthouse’s exterior terra-cotta tiles to flood the interiors with light. To spark the imagination of potential buyers, Alchemy commissioned elaborate renderings from leading interior designers Thierry Despont and David Hotson that show some incredible possibilities. The Woolworth Building dates to 1913, when it was the trophy HQ for Woolworth’s Five & Dime store empire. The conversion to the Woolworth Tower Residences has seen floors 29 through 58 transformed into 32 loft-like condos.
Urban Mansion: A French-Style Chicago Château
It was the dream home of car-insurance tycoon and confirmed Francophile Richard Parrillo and his wife, Michaela: a tasteful 25,000-square-foot French château on one of Chicago’s ritziest boulevards. In 2005, the couple acquired more than eight city lots on North Burling Street, close to Lincoln Park, and proceeded to spend a reported $65 million creating this three-story, 18-room, six-bedroom urban oasis. They spared no expense on features such as the exquisite exterior stonework, delicate wrought-iron detailing, elegant gardens with multiple fountains, a reflecting pool and a hand-forged antique garden pavilion. And, in that pre-supply-chain-problem era, they went the extra global mile for the pièce de résistance: tons of crunchy gravel for the driveway shipped in from France. Inside, the $45 million home is full of artisan-crafted chandeliers, detailed wood paneling and hardwood flooring. A sweeping marble staircase in the entry hall is a masterpiece of black-and-gold-leafed ironwork, while a vaulted-ceilinged basement wine cellar comes with a genuine Louis XIII fireplace.
Celebrity Home: Baz Luhrmann & Cathrine Martin’s NYC Townhouse
Tony Award-winning writer/director Baz Luhrmann and his four-time Oscar-winning set- and costume-designing wife, Catherine Martin, are renowned for their wild, colorful, theatrical decorating style—think Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby. And that’s definitely on display at the power couple’s much-loved Manhattan brownstone—listed for $20 million—in a leafy corner of Stuyvesant Square, one of New York’s oldest parks. Many of the rooms are decorated in vivid hues—crimson reds and emerald greens—with bold-patterned wall coverings, most designed by Martin. Built in 1850 for a Brooklyn-based merchant, the townhouse is unusual in that its frontage spans 28 feet, allowing for spacious rooms. The couple bought the five-story property in 2017 and undertook a top-to-bottom makeover that included converting the uppermost floor into a “creative studio,” where Luhrmann is said to have written the script for his upcoming film Elvis, starring Tom Hanks.
Historic: Coronado Castle Estate, San Diego, Calif.
Blending a landmark, century-old property with contemporary interiors calls for extraordinary care and imagination, and that has been brilliantly carried out in Coronado Castle Estate, a Moorish-Spanish classic designed by architect Richard Requa and built in 1925. The three-bedroom, 14,142-square-foot residence across from the beach in San Diego was renovated between 2017 and 2020 to restore the polish of its elaborate tiling, intricate ironwork and stained-glass windows, among other details.
To accommodate a modern lifestyle without altering the home’s architectural integrity, the owners added a 7,000-square-foot basement that features a movie theater, a golf simulator, a gym and a bar. An inner courtyard includes a pool and lush Moorish gardens with fountains and 100-year-old olive trees. The $39 million home is that rare property with a foot in the past and in the present, yet it’s prepared to enter the future with its beauty, charm and livability undiminished.
Palace: Patiño Palace, Cascais, Portugal
In 1968, this $26.5 million estate hosted the legendary “Party of the Parties,” with A-listers among the 1,000, champers-swilling guests including the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Henry Ford II and a roster of Rockefellers and Rothschilds. They no doubt splashed in the Roman-sized swimming pool, kicked back in the Hollywood-sized screening room or got lost in this 36,000-square-foot, 14-bedroom palace high on a hill above Cascais, near Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. This is the beyond-spectacular Patiño Palace, built in the 1950s as
the summer home for Antenor Patiño, Bolivia’s billionaire “King of Tin,” who amassed a fortune after inheriting his father’s tin-mining business. Two of the home’s many highlights include a wood-paneled library inspired by the world-famous Biblioteca Joanina in nearby Coimbra and the huge bank-style vault, built to house Mrs. Patiño’s vast jewelry collection.
Garage: Kauai Compound, Hawaii
This Hawaiian home’s garage is much more than a dark space to park your wheels. With walls of glass, marble floors and ample room to showcase 22 or so automobiles and a workshop, this is nothing less than an automotive emporium for the ultimate petrolhead. Dave Walters was that petrolhead. The former CEO of Kauai-based time-share specialist Pahio Resorts built his dream home on the North Shore of Kauai, largely to display favorites from his car collection that included best-of-the-best Ferraris, Lamborghinis and old-timer American classics. The 11,000-square-foot home is part of the exclusive Anini Vista enclave close to the town of Kilauea and overlooks the crashing waves of Anini Beach. Walters passed away in 2009, and his widow has listed the home for $17.5 million. And if you’re wondering where you park your daily drivers? There’s a separate four-car garage.
Private Island: Little Whale Cay, Bahamas
Who doesn’t crave living on island time, chilling on your private beach, swimming in the gin-clear water, fishing off your own dock? Checking all those boxes is Little Whale Cay, a 40-acre slice of paradise that’s part of the Berry Islands chain in the Bahamas, just north of Nassau. What sets Little Whale apart is its 2,230-foot runway, capable of accommodating a twin-engine plane. Prefer to arrive by boat? The island has its own protected harbor, plus there’s a helicopter pad and seaplane ramp. First owned in the 1930s by Canadian industrialist Wallace Groves, it was bought in 1985 by Brit Peter Austin, who converted three buildings into rental properties, catering to 14 guests. It’s on the market for $35 million.
Lifetime Achievement: Stephen Kliegerman
Few have done as much to shape the cloud-scraping skyline of New York City over the past two decades—and bring Gotham back from the depths of the pandemic—than powerhouse visionary Stephen Kliegerman. Since 2000, when he joined the senior executive team at Terra Holdings, parent of Brown Harris Stevens, he has overseen more than $15 billion in property sales in the New York metro area, totaling 10,000-plus properties. One of his latest projects, the soaring 52-story Elkus Manfredi–designed 200 Amsterdam, is the Upper West Side’s most-anticipated new luxury condo development.
Working closely with high-profile developers, Kliegerman masterminds the management of landmark new properties, taking them from early planning to final closings. Sustainability and wellness have driven many of his newest endeavors, from the Foster + Partners–designed Selene on East 53rd to a Passive House Project in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill to a short stack of duplexes in the East Village, and even beyond the city limits to the carbon-neutral single-home development the Catskill Project. A Tesla owner, he encourages developers to build with future demands and generations in mind, including electric-car charging stations, induction cooking, top-of-the-line air filtration and energy-efficient features such as thermal insulation.
One big shift he has been part of most recently is built-in wellness. “From highly filtered fresh-air intake and building-wide water-filtration systems to amenities including saltwater pools, experiential showers, meditation and treatments rooms and infrared saunas, developers are responding to the heightened awareness of healthy living,” Kliegerman, a recipient of the Real Estate Board of New York’s Henry Forster Award, says.
His expertise and crystal-ball-gazing get him widely quoted everywhere from The New York Times to CNBC. His latest observation: “Manhattan is back.”