Colonial Property Management Middletown Ny
Colonial Property Management Middletown Ny – Although they happened almost half a century apart, Kathy Reisfeld and Jo Elling’s first encounters with a house in Great Barrington were strikingly similar. Both women found the listing and crossed state lines to view the property. In both cases, fate would wait for each for at least a day before a realtor would let them in – causing each to contemplate the property up close, but still at a distance. The two ran into the house when it had been vacant for a spell, and as a result was in need of rehab. And in both cases, despite her various states of frustration, Elling and Reisfeld knew almost immediately that they would love the house.
Standing for nearly three centuries, the colonial house – which includes a 3,600 square meter Cape-style main house, a traditional schoolhouse with a bell tower, a barn and (currently) three acres of land overlooking the nearby preserved agricultural landscape – it dates from 1742 and retains many of its colonial details.
Colonial Property Management Middletown Ny
In 1971, when Jo Elling first found the house, on a drive from Brooklyn with her husband Ray, it was completely overcrowded and western Massachusetts was sleepier than it is today. The local agent was unable to meet Ellings until the next day. “So we sat in a little bowl nearby with bag lunches that we brought from town and got a close look,” recalls Elling, who is now 97 and lives next door. “All I could see was Cary Grant walking out the front door. It was beautiful. I think I fell in love with it right away.”
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In 2019, Reisfeld drove out of Woodstock with her mother and daughter in tow after finding the listing online. “The realtor couldn’t show us the house for a few days, so we just walked around and looked in the windows,” says Reisfeld. “It was a shambles at the time,” she recalls. “But even though it was damaged, you could tell it had been such a beautiful house and could be brought back.” Reisfeld and her husband Scott decided to take on the challenge of restoring the historic property, and soon after taking ownership the couple realized they had another strategic advantage in Elling, who shared her years of research on the property’s history, her memories and occasional advice.
A Glimpse into Pre-Revolutionary Life Built by Stephen King, local weaver and wool merchant, the house originally comprised a land grant from the English government of 45 acres that reached from the main road into town and included the surrounding meadows and marshes. King was the son of David King, the first European-born settler in Great Barrington, then known as Upper Sheffield, an area that had previously been part of the Algonquin Nation.
King also built the Green Mill, which was one of the region’s first facilities—a place where wool was processed into cloth. King also had a working farm on 45 acres of the homestead and built a one-room schoolhouse in the yard for his children.
King lived in the house as the town grew from settlement to farming community, serving on the town’s first jury and watching the colony erupt in revolution around him and then become a new nation. King died around 1785, and the house changed service times over the following centuries. Slowly, portions of the surrounding farmland were developed as the Gilded Age made Great Barrington a popular place for summer cottages.
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When Elling and her husband bought the house, it was a more manageable five acres. Although they had four sons to raise, they briefly considered breaking down the two-story, six-bedroom house into a two-family residence. “But we just couldn’t do that for this house,” Elling explains. Instead, the couple started hosting family and friends for long weekends. This went on for a year, until the couple realized they had found a way to keep their messy house and a second career for themselves.
They opened a bed and breakfast, Ellings Guest House, welcoming regional and international guests. While they swapped out some of the home’s original closets and replaced them with additional bathrooms (the home now has five and a half), the Ellings preserved the rest of the home’s interior. Their bed and breakfast became a popular stop for visitors, evoking a sense of a bygone era. The Ellings ran their guest house for 26 years, until they finally retired and built a smaller home on two acres of the property.
Honoring history, with a few modern twists When the Reisfelds took on the challenge of the house, they had their work cut out for them. Sitting empty last winter, a pipe had burst and damaged two-thirds of the first floor, which had to be gutted. The couple hired Rhinebeck-based architect Inma Donaire to collaborate on redesigning the space, and Ron Love of R.N. Construction to realize their plans.
In the center of the first floor of the house, a giant fireplace faces three different rooms, including the living room, the sitting room and a small parlor. The house’s original rectangular living room – big enough for a child’s grand piano – was spared from the flood and features the house’s original wooden beams along the ceiling and wide-plank “king boards” along the walls – so called for they were taken from the broadest and straightest trees, and intended to be sent back to England to be made into the masts of ships of the navy.
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The kitchen was completely destroyed by water damage, so Reisfeld and Donaire took the opportunity to design an open, modern space that takes advantage of the landscape view. A central Cararra marble island provides ample space for preparing family meals. Cararra marble counters form an L shape along the kitchen walls punctuated by a farmhouse sink that Reisfeld had been saving for years.
“Someone was selling it on the side of the road in Woodstock,” she says. “But it wouldn’t work in our first little house there, so it sat in the basement for a decade before I could finally use it.” Here it sits beneath one of the house’s few modern flourishes—a rectangular picture window that runs the length of the room and offers a view of a nearby hill.
Adjacent to the kitchen and living room, a smaller room with doors at either end offers a glimpse into colonial life. The delivery room was a place where working mothers and sick family members could stay by the hearth of the house but still maintain some privacy. The Reisfelds kept the den but added kitchen storage for extra pantry space.
Much of the upper floor of the house was spared water damage, but bathrooms throughout the house needed an update. Working with Donaire, the Reisfelds redesigned the master bath as a haven overlooking the backyard. A large freestanding tub sits at one end with an eye-level window for bathers. Donaire chose tiles for the space and came up with the idea of adding floating wood tiles to the walls and matching them with a rectangular sink.
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Working with Ron Love and his team, the Reisfelds redesigned the former schoolhouse into a one-bedroom cottage with loft, kitchen and wood stove as a full-time residence for her mother, artist Sharon Stanfield. Stanfield uses the property’s nearby barn as a studio. A shed stores hay for the family’s two goats, salt and pepper.
Down a mowed path, winding through crab apple trees, is the line between the Reisfelds’ home and Elling’s, inspired by the design of the original home. The Reisfelds visit often, and Elling offers sage advice on caring for the historic property. “It’s a lot of work, but everything gets done,” she says. “Then you should sit back with a nice drink in hand and enjoy it all.”
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