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Quest Magazine | April 2010
Quest April  2010

Quest April  2010

Quest Magazine | BRUSHWOOD

“THIS HOUSE BREATHES FAMILY,” says the current mistress of Brushwood, a Greek Revival fieldstone mansion that presides over 29 lush, green acres in the tony enclave of Bernardsville, New Jersey, just west of Manhattan. Brushwood has known only three families in its 100 years, but its owner is spot on: there is something tangibly—unexpectedly perhaps—nurturing about the property. Apinnacle of architectural practices, exemplifying the highest standards of classic design and proportion, each original detail preserved, each of its 30 rooms perfected down to the chicest detail, Brushwood is nonetheless a home, a place where laughter rings in the air, where splashes are heard from the pool, where a badminton or tennis tournament might just be in progress—all visible from the oversized fanlight windows of the manor house, which perches upon a knoll. It has been this way, alive and vibrant, since 1904, when it was built as a wedding present for brewery heiress Alice Ballantine, whose father hired notable architect Charles Alling Gifford to construct a summer cottage for his only daughter. The site? Bernardsville, in New Jersey’s Somerset Hills, where in the late 19th century captains of industry summered in lavish “cottages” like those of Newport. With the 1870s arrival of the railroad came industrialists, lawyers, and financiers, and they remain today: Bernardsville, at the very heart of New Jersey’s fabled horse country, is a mere 50 miles from Manhattan and a short drive to Newark and Morristown Airports. It was from nearby Manhattan that the current owners first arrived in 1993. Far from its current pristine condition, Brushwood had no working electricity or plumbing, and the grounds had been completely let go. The original architectural details were all intact, though, and the young couple “couldn’t find anything that compared with its magic and romance.” They embarked on a complete renovation with the goal of preservation. Seventeen years later, Brushwood is once more a showstopper. Under the expert guidance of architect David Scott Parker and designer Janet Simon, the physical structure, the grounds and the interiors are sublime artistry, reflective of Brushwood’s rich history, but also of the modern family that calls it home. With 11 bedrooms, the property also features a four-bedroom guesthouse—and a two-story (LEEDcertified!) treehouse. The air-conditioned 4,800 square foot storage garage will thrill the serious car collector. Between Brushwood’s movie theater, music room, 1,500 bottle wine cellar, tennis courts, and pool pavilion, the twinkling Manhattan skyline visible in the east might be the only reason to ever leave: a reminder that the commerce and culture of New York is almost close enough to touch. As the owners’ three teenage boys head off on their own adventures, a new family will call Brushwood home. Could it be yours? Brushwood is offered by Kurfiss International Realty. Call 215.794.1308 or visit kurfiss.com. For more on designer Janet Simon, see janetsimoninc.com.