Almost a century after it was built, this eight-bedroom mansion featured in The Money Pit, starring Tom Hanks. The 1986 film tells the story of an ambitious couple who buy a distress-sale estate with the intention of slightly improving it and selling it on for a profit. However, the house falls apart spectacularly, causing the couple to completely refurbish it. They end up living in it themselves – at least in the Steven Spielberg-produced comedy.
In reality, when the film was being shot, the home belonged to Olympic gold medallist Eric Ridder, and it had actually fallen into a state of catastrophic disrepair by the time current owners Christina and Rich Makowsky bought it for Dh7 million in 2002. They spent five times that amount doing it up, put it on the market in 2014 for Dh46 million, and – upon not finding any takers – reduced it to Dh22 million this year. In other words, it’s a steal, and here’s why.
The 5.4-acre Northway estate sits in the elite Oyster Bay enclave, an hour from Manhattan. The three-storey structure is at the end of a half-kilometre-long, flower-lined drive (rumour has it that the Makowskys spent Dh7m on landscaping alone). The three-tiered grounds also house a six-car garage, a saltwater pool and 800-square-foot pool house, an outdoor sound system, and a fountain, gazebo and rose garden.
The house itself has a cedar roof and offers 14,000 square feet of living space. Christina, who is a fashion designer, says the decor was inspired by a “Versace-esque” style, in a nod to Long Island’s Gilded Age: all black and gold, elaborate mouldings and ebony wood floors. From redoing the plumbing, heating and electrical systems, to installing plaster ceiling medallions, hand-carved balustrades, crown mouldings and herringbone floors, the owners spared no expense with this project.
When it was built in the late 1800s, the mansion had at least 15 bedrooms, of which three are now combined to create a chef’s kitchen, with marble countertops and a centre island made from mahogany wood. In addition to the seven bedrooms divided between the upper levels, the master suite combines four rooms, and includes an opulent dressing area with mirrored French doors. There’s also a library, media room and dining room that can seat 28 people. The massive living room boasts a 500-year-old fireplace, which was imported from France along with several chandeliers and bronzed sconces. Three sides of the space are covered in tufted, black suede fabric, while the fourth wall is refrigerated. The lowest level has a recreation room, a gym, laundry room, staff suite, powder room, pantry and a French door leading to a bluestone patio.
A herringbone brick veranda wraps around the back of the house, while a brick staircase leads to the heated pool. The pool house has slate flooring, and is equipped with its own kitchen, separate bathroom and changing room, and a small laundry area. As Christina put it: “The house was designed to entertain. It’s the ultimate anti-money pit.”
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