In 1949, a group of picnickers looking for a fine Hudson River view and a bit of nostalgia stopped by a gatehouse to ask if the driveway heading to the ramshackle old mansion beyond was passable. Leading the way was Eleanor Roosevelt, taking a group of her Hyde Park neighbors and her grandchildren to the estate where she spent much of her childhood with her grandmother.
Located in Germantown, N.Y., at 794 Woods Road, the early 1870s brick structure marked the entrance to Oak Terrace (aka Oak Lawn), one of the many sprawling estates that dotted the landscape in the 19th century. The property was the home of Valentine G. Hall, Jr. and Mary Livingston Ludlow Hall, maternal grandparents of Eleanor. After the death of both of her parents by the time she was nine, Eleanor lived with her grandparents, spending summers at their country estate.
Oak Terrace left family hands in the 1930s and parcels were sold off, including the land on which the old gatehouse stood. The gatehouse was altered in 1938, according to a National Register survey, and a more recent renovation and expansion has perhaps made it a bit more grand than when it served as a humble gatehouse, but it certainly has more than a bit of fanciful charm.
The original two-story brick structure would have been a picturesque complement to the Second Empire style mansion it guarded. That mansion still stands and was highlighted on Brownstoner when it was on the market back in 2012. The more modest gatehouse has peaked gables, bays, dormers and a bit of iron cresting on the roofline. The modern one-story additions are at the rear of the house and sympathetic to the original design.
On the interior some likely original details can be spotted such as moldings, wood floors and the original stair, combined with more recent renovation touches of exposed brick and ironwork. A large part of the addition, and a focus of the listing photos, seems to be a large skylit kitchen. There are the expected high-end appliances, along with a more unusual bake oven, an elaborately carved wood island and stained glass windows.
The house has three bedrooms and 1. 5 baths. Only one bedrooms is shown, but it appears to be tucked into the dormers of the original structure. The full bath has been decked out with 19th century style fittings, including a high tank toilet, clawfoot tub and marble sink.
According to the listing, the renovation included new electrical, plumbing and HVAC. There’s a fenced-in Gunite pool adjacent to the house and there’s mention of a fountain on the roughly 2.77 acres of property.
The property is listed for $960,000 by Norm Fasquel Mackay with Houlihan Lawrence.
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