A small slice of the Astor country lifestyle can be yours — not a grand mansion, but a charming early 19th century farmhouse on a bucolic bit of land that was once part of the Astor’s Ferncliff estate.
The house at 167 River Road in Rhinebeck, N.Y., was one of the many houses that were scattered across the massive Astor land holdings to shelter the staff who made the estate life at Ferncliff possible.
Ferncliff was purchased by William Astor (grandson of John Jacob Astor) in the 1850s, and by the 1860s he had built a marble manor house on site and continued to purchase surrounding land. By the time of William’s grandson, Vincent Astor (husband of Brooke), the original 100-acre property had expanded to almost 3,000 acres.
The estate was divided after Vincent’s death in 1959 — some land was donated to worthy local causes, like the Ferncliff Forest, and other acreage sold.
The house currently on the market wasn’t the grandest part of the Ferncliff, but it sits on about 24 acres of scenic landscape and is surrounded by other remnants of the great estate.
Nearby is Astor Court — also known historically as Ferncliff Casino or the Tennis House and more recently in the news as the location of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. Imagined as a pleasure palace, it was designed by Stanford White and completed in 1904. Supposedly modeled on the Petite Trianon, the sprawling one-story structure had an indoor swimming pool and tennis court.
In the 1940s, the main house was demolished and this structure was transformed into the Astor’s residence. The house was restored in 2008.
Just to the north of Astor Court is the tea house built in the late 1940s as a bit of a folly and turned into a private home after it was sold by the Astors.
The grand dairy barns, completed in 1917 and restored and owned by photographer Annie Liebovitz, are just up the road.
The farmhouse property itself has clearly undergone a restoration as well, transformed since the 1970s into a gleaming Greek Revival style house sited on a sculpted landscape. According to the Museum of Rhinebeck History, the house was home to Astor servants over the years, possibly including the estate carpenter and the chauffeur.
While the listing includes envy-inducing shots of the landscape and exteriors, the interior images leave much to the imagination. Only three interior shots of the four-bedroom, four-bath home are included.
None of those baths or bedrooms are pictured, nor is the kitchen or any full room views — making it a bit difficult to wax poetic about historic details that may or may not be extant.
At least we can say with confidence that the views from the house are amazing.
The listing includes the main house as well as several outbuildings like this contemporary pool house in front of what the listing describes as a “salt water pool.”
Elsewhere on the property are two historic barns — one with an apartment inside — a gazebo and two ponds.
The Dutchess County property is listed for $3.5 million by Billie Woods of Heather Croner Real Estate, Sotheby’s International Realty.
- Dream Pre-Revolutionary War Dutch House in Kinderhook Has Modern Gallery Wing, Asks $645K
- An Eye-Popping Look Inside a Grand 19th Century Astor Estate, Yours for $22 Million
- A Country Estate in Old Chatham With Room for a Crowd Asks $3.95 Million (Sheep Not Included)