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This week's Top 10 homes spotlight at TopTenRealEstateDeals.com includes a look at Ted Koppel's Maryland home that dates back to at least 1765, and may have once been set on fire by a pirate, a 1920s New Orleans home that was transformed from a church and ballet studio, and the Virginia estate of America's best selling female writer of the early 1900s.
"Ted Koppel's Historic Home"
A valuable part of history, Cross Manor was originally a King's Land Grant of 2,000 acres granted to Thomas Cornwallis in 1639. The land grant was bestowed upon Cornwallis by King Charles I as a reward for bringing the first two ships of Catholics to the New World. As with almost all of the original land grants, the land was divided and sold over the years. Cross Manor now rests on 110 acres along the shore of Saint Inigoes Creek. Many say the Cross Manor main house may be the oldest in Maryland.
Current owner Ted Koppel writes about Cross Manor in his book "Off Camera" and says the main house "dates back to at least 1765, but believes the original building "was pillaged and set on fire by a pirate named Ingles." At one time a Civil War military facility stood on the property as well as commercial wharfs along the waterfront.
The manor house consists of 3,032 square feet with four bedrooms and three baths with public rooms opening from a side hallway. Floors are the original wood as is the wall paneling. The home has been completely restored under the historic trusts guidelines. There are also two one-bedroom guest houses and other agricultural buildings on the property of historical value. The grounds have today's recreational features of swimming pool, lighted tennis courts and pier.
Ted Koppel's Cross Manor historical Maryland estate, now offered for sale at $3.945 million.
"New Orleans Ballet/Church Conversion"
According to the owner, some people remember it as a church, Westminster Presbyterian, built in the1920s as a house of worship for a historic congregation started in the 1830s. The house is filled with plaques commemorating the contributions of their followers. The church sold it to the Ballet Hysell in the 1980s, which was led by the legendary Maestro Harvey Hysell. He lived in two apartments and left the main place of worship as a dance studio.
The large dance studio was visited by ballet notables like Mikhail Baryshnikov from the Russian Ballet on their first American tour. The first floor was dedicated to practice rooms, costumes and set designs. On Halloween, he would host a Masquerade Ball and at Christmas would present "The Nutcracker." In 1999, the current owners purchased the building and began a major renovation to turn it into a home, including all new electrical, heating/cooling and plumbing systems. They added new structures, relocated the elevator shaft, closed in the front yard and added a living green roof garden - currently New Orleans largest.
This church-turned-ballet-turned home in New Orleans' Garden District has 13,292 square feet with an open living area and high ceilings. There are six bedrooms and eight bathrooms, which includes three fully equipped one-bedroom apartments which are entered from a different street. Asking $2.5 million for 1927 Westminster Presbyterian Church converted to single family home.
"Frank Lloyd Wright's Millard House"
Wright's 1923 Millard House was his first Usonian residence, which design was intended to be simple enough so owners could build their own. But even after years of concept refinement, the style never was perfected to the point where the average middle class homeowner could construct one alone. This house, referred to as La Miniatura by the Millard family who commissioned the home, with its massive poured concrete and block walls could never have been managed by the average homeowner. Wright's vision for this home, as with his others, was to have it focus on the land formation of its building site. Usually, he laid his homes horizontally, but with La Miniatura, he designed vertically to take full advantage of the low ravine views that led down to a seasonal creek. Frank's son, Lloyd Wright, also took a big part in the home by creating the landscape design for the entire property and later designing the guest house.
The interior of the main house has a play of changing light filtering in through the open, patterned block walls and expanses of glass and doors opening out to the tranquil views. The vertical ceiling beams appear to have almost a carved beaded look, which coordinates nicely with Alice Millard's heavily carved doors. High ceilings, glass doors and signature built-ins accentuate the rooms. The main house has a dining room, den, loft, art studio, basement, guest-maids quarters, two kitchens and large living room. The guest house is also open and airy with both opening out to the courtyard garden and pond.
Frank Lloyd Wright's first Usonian home, now offered at $5.25 million.
"Virginia's Historic Three Hills Estate"
Born in 1870, Mary Johnston was a waif of a woman but a giant of an author. "To Have and to Hold," her most famous work, was only part of her contribution as she was an activist in the Women's Suffrage Movement and brought the Civil War to her readers from the soldier's point of view. One claim to fame was how she ruffled the feathers of General Stonewall Jackson's widow by portraying his rather fanatical peculiarities as observed by his soldiers in her historical novel, "The Long Roll." As Anna Jackson was the General's widow for fifty years, her personal image as the wife of an honored general was paramount to her social success. However, when Mary Johnston portrayed the real Stonewall as a religious zealot and hypochondriac with large and awkward feet who constantly sucked on lemons, Anna Jackson went into a frenzy of rebuttal, not necessarily denying the total description. All in all, Mary Johnston was not afraid to voice the results of her research and observations through her writing, but in later years the growing controversy led to diminished sales of her work. In 1912, Johnston built a mansion in Warm Springs, Virginia that she named Three Hills, which she turned into an inn in 1917 to help support her family.
Three Hills Estate is comprised of the manor house, a multi-function activity/conference center and four cottages. The total combined properties consist of 80 rooms with 22 bedrooms, 22 bathrooms, eight kitchens, and nine fireplaces totaling over 20,000 square feet of space on 27.24 acres. The manor house, designed in Italianate style, is adorned with dentil molding, crown molding, crystal chandeliers, transom windows and ornate fireplace surrounds. Located in the Allegheny Highlands, views overlook the town of Warm Springs and distant valleys. One of the gardens is an intricate boxwood maze ending with a central fountain. Only four miles away is the internationally known Homestead Resort with its plethora of year round amenities.
The Three Hills estate was erected in 1912 by the famous Virginia novelist Mary Johnston. The royalties from her most successful novel, "To Have and to Hold," defrayed the construction costs of Three Hills. Asking $1.4 million.
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