This waterfront 19th century manse has a bit of something for history lovers and movie buffs alike. The Upper Nyack, N.Y. house was home to a former mayor, is filled with period charm and was found alluring enough to be featured in two movies.
Known as Glenholme, the house on the market at 501 North Broadway has an alluring water-front setting made for sweeping cinematic shots. In the 1998 tearjerker “Stepmom,” starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, it was home to Sarandon’s character and her children. The filmmakers took full advantage of the exterior charm with lingering shots of the mansard-roofed house in every season. While the interior shots were filmed on a sound stage, the sets were clearly inspired by the real rooms. The house made another silver screen appearance in 2010, this time as a bed and breakfast in “Bounty Hunter” with Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler.
But for old house buffs, it’s the 19th and early 20th century history that might be most appealing. While some written accounts of the Frank R. Crumbie house date it to the 1850s, a history published by the Historical Society of Rockland County in 1993 dates the house to the 1880s with a significant renovation in 1907. The listing dates it to 1897. The truth might be somewhere in between.
To attempt to make sense of the story, it requires going back a bit further than the era of Frank R. Crumbie to that of his parents, James and Ann Eliza Crumbie. James grew up in Westchester County but made his way to Manhattan, where he became a successful druggist and investor in real estate. According to the 1902 publication “Historical Record to the Close of the Nineteenth Century of Rockland County,” James purchased property in Nyack in 1858. A dig through local papers turned up references to James Crumbie in Nyack as early as the 1860s and an 1865 census shows James, Ann and six children as boarding in Nyack with one William Voorhis.
Voorhis was active in the development of Nyack and owned and developed property there in the 1870s, when the arrival of the railroad brought a building boom to the area. An 1871 article in the Rockland County Journal claimed that nearly 150 buildings were constructed in 18 months in Nycack. While he was developing property in the center of Nyack, an 1867 map of Rockland County shows William Voorhis also had land in Upper Nyack, on North Broadway near the current location of Glenholme.
The first map that has turned up so far showing James Crumbie’s name is from 1875. It shows Crumbie owning two lots of land adjacent to that of William Voorhis in Upper Nyack. The Crumbie land includes several buildings and a stream feeding into the Hudson River. At some point, exactly when isn’t as yet clear, the stream and the area around it became known as Crumbie’s Glen.
Accounts printed in the Rockland County Journal in the 1870s refer to the Crumbie family as having a summer residence in Upper Nyack, with the family arriving in late spring and departing in the fall to spend winter in the city. By the 1875 New York State Census, taken in June of that year, James and Ann Eliza Crumbie were recorded in Upper Nyack in a frame house valued at $8,000 with their six children, two servants and a coachman
James died in 1879, but newspaper accounts show that the Crumbie family maintained their summer residence in Upper Nyack and hosted charitable events on the “spacious and handsome grounds” of their home. Son Frank R. Crumbie graduated from Columbia Law School in 1884 and appears fairly regularly in local papers as active in area organizations. In 1897, he married local girl Annie S. Towt and it seems they settled in Upper Nyack as a permanent home, not just a summer one.
A map from 1890 shows the property still in the hands of the J. Crumbie family and one from 1891 seems to indicate just one house remaining on the family property. By 1900, Frank, Annie, their young daughter and servants are recorded on the Federal census as living on North Broadway in Upper Nyack. In 1907, according to the Historical Society of Rockland County article, architect James Simonson was hired to significantly expand the Crumbie house. Simonson’s plans, which were still in existence at the time of the 1993 article, showed that the house was “cut in half and a center section and third floor added.”
Simonson is most likely James B. Simonson, Nyack architect, painter and, according to local papers, a talented baritone. Simonson’s name pops up in architectural publications in the 1890s as a builder of country homes, including several in Nyack. Alas, the house he designed for the Crumbie family doesn’t seem to have been published. It is possible that despite the 1897 construction date that pops up for the house that Simonson was hired to overhaul an older family home. Such a project would not have been unusual. Just across the street at 406 North Broadway, known as Brookside, the owners did just that. The original circa 1865 house was transformed into a Colonial Revival manse around 1890, according to the National Register nomination for the property.
Either way, the house remained in the Crumbie family home for decades. Frank and Annie raised their three children in the house: son Frank, Jr. and daughters Constance and Marion. Frank served as Mayor of Upper Nyack for 25 years, was one of the founders of the Nyack YMCA in 1889 and served as its president for decades. He was also a member of the American Scenic Historic Preservation Society, serving on one of its many monument committees.
When exactly the house was christened Glenhomle is unclear. The first reference that turned up was in a 1921 Rockland News account of Marion Crumbie’s wedding. The reception was held at “Glenholme, the residence of the bride’s parents.”
Frank and Annie were still living in the house by the time of the 1940 census, along with Frank, Jr. Their daughter Marion Crumbie Zabriskie was living with her husband and children next door. Annie Crumbie died in 1943 and Frank just a few years later in 1948. The property seems to have stayed in the family until just after the death of Frank.
By the time Glenhomle was purchased by Julia and Charles Grudzinskas in 1980, it was in need of extensive restoration. Their work, including roof replacement, plaster repair, woodwork refinishing, chimney restoration and painting the exterior among the many projects, earned them a Historic Preservation Merit Award from the Historical Society of Rockland County in 1993. They sold it the same year but all subsequent owners seem to have maintained the restored period charm, with the listing noting that the current owner also completed extensive renovations.
The exterior gives a hint at the spaciousness of the interior. The house is over 5,000 square feet, with formal entertaining spaces on the first floor.
There are enviable views of the Hudson with french doors opening onto the porch.
The interior details appear to date from the Simonson work on the house in the early 20th century. In the parlor, there’s a coffered ceiling and columned mantel.
The dining has built-in china cabinets, a tiled fireplace surround and generous windows.
The kitchen has been renovated but with a nod towards the vintage charm of the house with glass-front cabinets and a farm sink.
According to the listing it also has enough appliances to keep a cook happy with three ovens, two dishwashers, two refrigerators and a wine cooler.
Upstairs, the master suite has more river views.
An equally inspiring view for some might be the en-suite bath and dressing area.
There are a total of six bedrooms in the house, so plenty of room to spread out or to dance to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” like in “Stepmom.”
In addition to the master bath there are three more full baths and one half bath in the house.
The house sits on 1.5 acres which includes outdoor patio areas, gardens and a babbling brook.
The house is listed for $3.75 million by David B. Sanders of Christies International Real Estate.
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