Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An NYC Photographer and a Fashion Executive List Upstate Hideway

SELLERS: Diego and April Uchitel
PRICE: $2,995,000
SIZE: 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Listen, chitlins, the sun is shining, our belly is full of cheap champagne and ebelskivers and we want–nay, need–another lazy afternoon at the beach. Howevuh, have no fear, rather than leave y'all high and dry, we offer up a little real estate pretty quickie in the form of a fully rehabbed 18th-century stone-built house in rural Upstate New York that oozes with historic charm and urbane sophistication.

The house in question, located in the barely there community of Hurley near the tiny town of Stone Ridge (NY), was originally built by one of the Dutch farmers who settled the area in pre-revolutionary America. In the 1920s through the 1950s scenic valley became known as the Borscht Belt because of the high number of summer vacation camps that catered (mostly) to New York City Jews. About two hours north of New York City, Stone Ridge nowadays might better known amongst urbanites and non-Jews for its stunning, sturdy and well-preserved 18th-century stone-built houses and the crush of showbiz types–many of whom have won or been nominated for an Academy Award or two–who own pretty properties in the vicinity.

Some past and present property owners in and around Stone Ridge who have recognizable names include Oscar-nominated Willem Dafoe (High Falls), Oscar-nominated actress Uma Thurman (Stone Ridge), John Leguizamo (Rosendale), David Bowie and Iman (Shokan), Oscar-nominated Vera Farmiga (Mettachonts), Oscar-winner Melissa Leo (Stone Ridge), and Oscar-winner Frances McDormand and her Oscar-winning director husband Joel Cohen (Esopus). Pint-sized moguls Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen rented a house in Accord last year and we hear through the Stone Ridge real estate gossip grapevine that since dumping her Oscar-nominated filmmaker husband Darren Aronofsky in late 2010, Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz has been spending a considerable amount of time at her Marbletown country house with her hunky new hunny-hubby Daniel Craig.

Anyhoo, last week we heard from an informant we'll call Ima B. Anupstatemary, who pointed Your Mama's real estate snoot in the direction of the Captain Newkirk Estate, a 73.5 acre spread on a country lane with a recently redone stone-built residence that dates to the around 1720. The owners, Argentinian-born fashion and celebrity photographer Diego Uchitel and his fashion executive wife April, recently listed the property with an asking price of $2,995,000.

Mister Uchitel takes photographs for a living and frequently snaps images of famous f0lks, including Julianne Moore, Charlize Theron, Bette Midler, David Bowie, and Ahn Duong. Stylish ginger-haired April Uchitel toils as the Executive Vice President of Global Strategy for Diane von Furstenberg.

Property records show Mister and Missus Uchitel purchased the property in August 2007 for $1,650,000. Listing information reveals that the arty-farty and aesthetically-oriented couple spent three years on an extensive renovation and restoration of the property that they subsequently had photographed for the May 2010 issue of Elle Decor.

Listing information shows the almost 300-year old colonial crib measures a very contemporary 4,598 square feet and includes 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and 6 fireplaces.

An opening in a split-rail fence marks the entrance to the long driveway that runs besides a babbling brook that cuts through a broad meadow. The driveway swings left at a pair of postcard-perfect antique barns and climbs gently to a parking pad set well away from the house. From there a blue stone pathway meanders across the flat front lawn the runs right up to the home's foundation. The notable lack of landscaping around the house might look bare to some, but we rather love it as it perfectly and dramatically sets the orderly but organic exterior of the house in stark relief against the cleanly-clipped grass and the rugged shade trees that ring the house.

Mister and Missus Uchitel–no relation to Tiger Woods number one extra-marital squeeze Rachel as far as we know–respected the home's original character as evidenced by the wide-plank French white oak wood floors, 12 over 12 sash windows, rough-hewn wood beam ceilings and the chair rails and moldings in the entry and stair hall painted an inspired and rich shade of steel grey. Added modern comforts and luxuries–the kinds of things considered necessities by those with deep pockets–include all-new systems and services including central air, a 4-zone heating system and radiant heated floors in the bathrooms. Having spent a couple winters in Upstate New York–including the turn of the millennium in a tee-pee in the mountains above the Ashokan Reservoir–Your Mama knows well how perfectly wonderful radiant heated floors must be in Upstate New York come the deep freeze of February.

Inside living areas include a front parlor with a pair of well-worn roll-armed club chairs, a generous double-wide living room/family room, dining room with chunky antique trestle table, and swank but cozy center-island kitchen dressed in marble counter tops and white cabinetry with glass fronted uppers. A pair of swoon-worthy industrial-looking antique copper pendant lights hang over the over-scaled work island/snack bar. Your Mama notes with glee that Mister and Missus Uchitel smartly refrained from hanging a Kia-sized pot rack over the island, a decorative temptation that too many are unable to control.

The covered front porch and the screened porch with vaulted ceiling both link the house to the multi-level blue stone entertainment and dining terrace. The lush but austere landscaping that surrounds the house gives way to thick woods criss-crossed by hiking trails that wind around to a natural waterfall that tumbles down to the brook–a kill in local parlance–that meanders through the woods and across the meadow at the front of the estate.

Although the local swimming holes are sweet and nearby Lake Minnewaska is utterly spectacular, the property needs, for our taste and three million clams, a swimming pool for those swampy summer days when you don't feel like jumping in the Jeep and taking a winding drive just to take a dip in some cool water. Nothing fancy, just a rectangle sunk into a wide swathe of grass with a simple blue stone coping would do the trick here.

listing photos: Westwood Metes & Bounds


marlee said...

What a treat! I grew up in the area (not quite in a tee-pee on the reservoir)... Anyhow, as soon as I saw the pictures I knew that the home had to be in Stone Ridge, Hurley, Woodstock or thereabouts... It just has that look.

tovangar2 said...

Oh, so, so pretty & some really laudable restraint...

Newshen said...

Love the strap hinges, hope they're original.

lil' gay boy said...

A perfect assessment of a lovely retreat, Mama.

When one chooses to forgo the pretense of rigorously authentic rusticity with a $20K stainless range, then a simple pool with the aforementioned coping is a perfectly reasonable call.

And those radiant floors are perfect for taking the chill off a leaf-peeping autumn morn.

Mama'sBoy said...

"Ima B. Anupstatemary"
Hope you had a lovely day Mama...

Anonymous said...

I think I'm in love!!

Anonymous said...

Daddy likes it!

Anonymous said...


You're right about the pool, Mama.

On another note, this is yet another photographer with a very expensive casa. I had no idea that some picture snappers make so much moolah. Seriously, who knew?

Lady J

Doug said...

The house in question, located in the barely there community of Hurley near the tiny town of Stone Ridge (NY)...

I have to disagree with the need for a pool given your own statement above. I've had pools in tiny hamlets and they are a nightmare. No hunky pool guys in tight t-shirts adjusting the chemicals...complex and expensive equipment being worked on by "Bud", the local plumber, who spends the majority of his time fighting with Fluidmasters in toilets. Plus, skinny dipping is more fun and part of the reason you get out of the city.

I love this place, BTW. Thanks again, Mama, for all you do...and do so well!

FonHom said...

Not really upstate, Mama, except that it's up the state from NYC. Beautiful area.
When I lived in NY we would try to pick the optimal Oct. weekend for leaf-gazing around Hurley/High Falls. The trip always had that scene from a Lampoon Vacation movie or Simpsons episode where you shake off the city for glorious nature and the open road and - errreeehkk! - hit the brakes cause all the other lemmings had the same damn idea.

Langtry said...

Mama, dear: Is it just me, or does the Master Bedroom appear as a funhouse, with the armchair shrunk to miniture proportions?

Ms. Olive Bridge said...

Well, there are those of us who think that the only good thing the fashionistas and the movie types have brought to the area is better cheeses at Emmanuel's. But who can blame them for avoiding the Hamptons?

lil' gay boy said...

"...I had no idea that some picture snappers make so much moolah. Seriously, who knew?"

Lady J, I hear ya ––– it seems an outrageous sum. But I can attest to the fact that on the last weekly magazine I worked on (which was not even a fashion title) it was not unusual for the photo budget for rights to frequently exceed $100K a week.

And this without any agents or middlemen to skim off their piece. Incredible. But name & talent can command an easy $5k - $10K for a single shot.

Anonymous said...

It's perfect -- LOVE it.

Chip said...

This place is breathtaking. Is termite control an issue, because that's a lot of wood.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the 4-1-1, lil' gay boy.

Lady J

Anonymous said...

And might a grizzly bear come and take the chill off a leaf-peeping morn by digesting the occupants.

Anonymous said...

@anon 4:14 PM. That would be lil' gay boy coming over for a breakfast snack.

Mars said...

Me loves and me wants this so baaaaad.

Perfectly charming and so happily ever after. I'll just pine away to my death.