Listing of the Day
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Price: $4.898 million
This historic home near Princeton University was slated for demolition, but the developer who bought it had second thoughts and decided instead to renovate it.
Designed by architect Ernest Flagg and built in the early 1920s, the Normandy-style manor home had fallen into serious disrepair by the time developer and high-end builder Jay Grant bought it two years ago.
“Our original plan was to subdivide the property in two, with the new lot line bisecting the house, requiring the home to be razed,” said Mr. Grant, president of Grant Homes. He would then build two new houses on the one-acre site.
But after reviewing the home’s history and architectural uniqueness, he decided to approach local zoning and planning boards with a plan to reconfigure the lot lines to save the Flagg house.
With the new lot lines in place, he was able to begin a year-long overhaul and total update of the 9,000-square-foot home and its original carriage house.
“The house was in terrible shape, with no air conditioning, no insulation and small windows,” Mr. Grant said. “The kitchen was dominated by a stairwell down to the basement.”
“We removed 50 dumpsters of material,” he added.
And now he is able to bring his prized new home to market, at a price of just under $5 million.
“The renovation that Jay did on this home is absolutely exquisite,” said listing agent Wendy Merkovitz. “His detail and his choice of materials are better than any other builder here.”
“This is a very well-known home,” she said. “It’s very prestigious in the fact that it’s different from any other home in the western section of Princeton.”
“It’s also one of the few homes that has a five-car bay (garage) with a carriage house apartment above it,” she added. “Most homes are two-car bays.”
In his renovation, Mr. Grant was able to preserve and restore original architectural details, including exposed stone walls, wood beams, metal banisters and monumental copper fireplaces. The grand foyer staircase, for example, features restored wrought-iron railings.
The main floor features a window-lined sunroom and a large great room with original wood beams and a trio of French doors that open to a bluestone patio at the rear of the home.
The new kitchen and butler’s pantry are by designer Christopher Peacock. They have Calacatta marble, a walnut prep area, and chef’s-caliber appliances, including a 48-inch range, steam oven, warming drawers, refrigerator drawers, a wine fridge and dishwashers.
A dining room, mudroom, rear staircase to the second-floor master suite, and two powder rooms complete this level.
The second-story master suite features a fireplace, walk-in closet, private bluestone terrace and a marble bathroom with an oversized shower. This level also holds a laundry room and two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.
Arched ceilings at the mezzanine level frame a stunning room with a copper-sheathed mantel and wood-burning fireplace. It offers a range of possibilities, Ms. Merkovitz said.
There is another bedroom suite on the third floor, and the lower level holds the billiards room, with wood beams, fireplace and original restored bluestone floors.
Mr. Grant has refashioned the second floor of the carriage house into an apartment with a bedroom suite, sleek kitchen and family room with a fireplace.
The five-level 9,000-square-foot house has six bedrooms, six full bathrooms and two partial bathrooms. These numbers include the carriage house apartment. The house sits on a half-acre lot.
Ernest Flagg was a noted American architect in the Beaux-Arts style. Buildings by him and his firm include several well-known landmarks in New York City, including the Singer Building, St. Luke’s Hospital and the Scribner Building on Fifth Avenue. In Princeton, he designed the Princeton University Press building.
“Cleveland Lane is a street that is coveted in Princeton, with an array of distinguished homes,” Ms. Merkovitz said. “No two homes are truly alike.”
“It’s a quick 15-minute walk into downtown Princeton,” she added.
The campus of Princeton University is also within walking distance.
Agent: Wendy Merkovitz of Gloria Nilson & Co./Christie’s International Real Estate
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