Tag Archives: Conyer’s farm

It’s not the price, it’s the broker!

74 Upper Cross Rd

74 Upper Cross Rd

This cottage in Conyers Farm (in the association but not behind the gate) was last purchased in 2000 for an even $10,000,000. The owner spiffed it up in 2003 and listed it with Tamar Lurie in May, 2006 for $14,975,000, a price he reduced to $13,650,000 in September of that year and has stuck to ever since, even when he dumped Tamar and brought in David Ogilvy to work his magic. Something went awry and the listing expired today, the house unsold. So over two years, seven months, two of the most successful brokers in town were unable to convince a buyer that this house was worth its asking price. It’s so sad to see top producers slipping like this.

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Bernie Yudain to the rescue?

 

Maven and sex object, Bernard Yudain

Maven and sex object, Bernard Yudain

That ultimate source of Greenwich knowledge, Bernie Yudain, has answered my plea for help spelling Conyer(‘s) farm. The question: with or without an apostrophe? Bernie says without but he doesn’t address my ultimate trump card, a 1921 NYT article that referred to “Conyer’s Manor Farm”. Bernie has more faith in the unerring nature of that once proud newspaper than I do but he obviously thinks they got it wrong back in 1921 and, since I have far more confidence in Bernie than I do in the Times, I’ll defer to him. The apostrophe is hereby dropped, until new data change my mind.

But Bernie, what happened to poor deluded Araminta Sweeney who was accused of burning the place down? Inquiring minds want to know.

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You spell tomato, I spell Tomahtoe

And you get your fruit less expensively. But how do you spell Conyer’s Farm? A reader says that there’s no apostrophe and by God, he’s right, at least as far as the denizens now occupying the place maintain. But how could that be? The original 1000 acres were assembled by a steel magnate, as they used to call such people, one something something Converse and the result was one large farm, named after him (or a corrupted version of his last name). The gentleman accomplished his assembling by buying out the small farmers who, until he’d come along, eked out a living up and down North Street. I’ll bet there’s a story or two there: what happens when Larry O’Toole, potato digger from the old country, decides he doesn’t want to sell his patch o’dirt to Mr. Converse? Is Larry heard from again?

I digress, and that’s a shame because I want to rush to my point: For probably the only time in our mutual history, The New York Times agrees with me, or it did in 1922 when they reported on the record inheritance tax foisted on poor Mr. Converse(‘s) heirs. They refer to “Conyer’s Manor Farm” as evidenced here:  converse-farm. Notice the apostrophe. Latter day Johnny-come-latelys may differ, but I’ll stick with the paper of record. So you want to argue, go find Pinch Schulzberger’s grandfather. By the way: while researching the farm, I came across a story about The lady who burned it. Allegedly, of course.

Update:here’s a little bit more or Araminta Sweeney, the lady accused of setting fire to Mr. Converse(‘s) farm. The article is a little sketchy on details because it covers a commitment hearing where the primary issue seemed to be the poor woman’s town of residence and hence which town: Darien or Greenwich, would be stuck with her maintenance at the asylum. Was she committed? Did she ever emerge? Who paid her bill? We may never know, unless Bernie Yudaine steps in. Bernie?

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Conyer’s Farm

I drove up to Hurlingham this morning and sure enough, it is the former home of David Coyne, just as readers said. He’s no longer there but the house is, asking $13,750,000, or $1,350,000 more than the current owner paid for it just last year. Why the increase? According to the listing agent, Joe Barbeiri, the seller’s trying to break even after transaction costs (that’s not an exact quote – Joe is much too professional to just come out and say something so blunt, but I’m reporting the bottom line). I do agree with Joe about this: lakefront lots on Conyer’s behind the gates are rare and valuable – the land value of this lot is easily $10,000,000, any day including today and the owner would be foolish to bail out at anything less than that – the market will return and unlike lesser locations which had, you should pardon the expression, a derivitive value based on better lots soaring in value, lakefront at Conyer’s is valuable in its own right.

It was funny to notice how quickly a house becomes dated, though. This was built in 1986 and, to this writer, that was just yesterday. But pseudo-castle mixed with barnboard is as out of fashion as the projection tv system still lingering in this house’s basement. In short, someone is going to basically have to start over here. If I , the  sartorial model of Old Greenwich may be permitted a comment, it’s that my few suits, cut to a conservative (naturally) design, have never been at the cutting edge of fashion but have never gone entirely out of fashion, either. So when I have to appear before a judge, a very rare experience these days, thank you Lord, or do a funeral, no one notices my appearance. Were I to wear the Neru jacket I so unfortunately bought back in 1968, I’d experience something worse than the benign indifference of judges or fellow mourners. I’ve long since forgiven myself for the sartorial sins of my teens but forgiveness may be harder when it involves millions of dollars in questionable architectural taste.

Other things of note about this place: although it is on a beautiful lake, the designer put the master bedroom facing the front of the house and gave the dressing room the view. Not how I’d have done it. You could reverse this decision by yanking out the built-in drawers in the dressing room but that will leave you with a fireplace in the closet – not a particularly handy feature.

What the broker calls a dock is what I’d call a stone groin, just wide enough to walk a kayak out to deeper water, but I suppose that’s all you need. Before Conyer’s was developed, when we kids snuck in here to swim in the “lake” we made do with no dock whatsoever and seemingly came to no harm. But we weren’t paying $13 million for the privelege, either.

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Moving up the price scale

16-hurlingham16 Hurlingham
So how are the rich faring? We’ll find out, I suppose, when this place in Conyer’s Farm sells. Built in 1986 on 10 acres of lakefront it sold for $5.1 million in 1998. The buyer tried reselling it a year later for $7.875 and when that didn’t work seems to have yanked it off the market and put some cash into some serious renovation work. At least I think he did because it reappeared on the market in 2006 and sold for an even $12 million. It resold again in 2007 for $12.4 and now, yet another year has passed so it’s back on again, asking $13.750 (don’t the wealthy ever stay put?). There’s no mention in the current listing of any work that has been done to account for a $1.350 million jump in price, but maybe someone famous lived in it during the past 12 months. The owner shows as Berkeley Real Estate LLC which suggests that this was not, say, Eliot Spitzer’s home away from home, but you never know. There’s a broker open house tomorrow so I’ll go up there and ask.

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