If the arrival of the summer season has filled your head with visions of acres of space for houses guests and the genteel glamour of country estate life, this former home turned country inn might offer the escape of your dreams.
Most recently known as the Old Chatham Sheepherding Farm and Inn, the complex at 99 Shaker Museum Road in Old Chatham, N.Y., even comes with a quirky historic provenance. The now sprawling main house began life as a small pre-Revolutionary War house. That old dwelling got swallowed up by subsequent 19th and 20th century alterations and additions.
The most significant alteration was the 1935 transformation of the property by architects Polhemus & Coffin for the new owner at the time, investment banker John Stanton Williams.
The architecture firm, founded in the early 1920s, gained a reputation for country houses, including ‘Mille Fleurs,’ the 1932 Florence Guggenheim house in Long Island and ‘Champ Soleil,’ the 1929 home of Lucy Drexel Dahlgren in Newport, R.I.
Their work in Old Chatham transformed the property into a gentleman’s country estate the Williams family dubbed ‘Good Hope Farm.’ A Colonial Revival flavor was given to the entire house, which also took on two additions and, in the rear, a grand columned portico.
On the inside, according to the National Register nomination, some structural elements of the earlier house may remain but most interior finishes gave way to Colonial Revival touches and modern amenities like bathrooms, closets and central heat.
Polhemus & Coffin layered the interior with 18th and early 19th century-style details, including arches with keystones, large fireplaces and wide-planked floorboards.
While living in his new “old” house, Williams became fascinated with the history of the nearby Shaker community. In 1950, he founded the Shaker Museum in an outbuilding on his land, eventually donating some of the property to the museum. (The Shaker Museum now operates out the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.)
The Williams family sold the estate in 1994, and the following year, the house opened as an inn and working sheep farm. The award-winning cheeses of the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company were first produced on the property at the time.
No longer operating as an inn, the main house still contains the amenities for hosting a crowd of guests without constantly bumping into them.
The listing describes the property as having 12 bedrooms and 6.5 baths. Some guest accommodations are located elsewhere on the property, so without a floor plan, it is tough to tell how many of those bedrooms and baths are in the main house.
The house is set on 25 acres of land, which also included a tennis court, working greenhouse and, according to the listing, six guest suites to accommodate overflow visitors.
The Columbia County property is listed for $3.95 million by Katherine L. Jennings of Houlihan Lawrence.
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