Photos and illustration courtesy of Stan Lichens
The original gatehouse for the Astor Estate, Ferncliff, hits the market in picturesque Rhinebeck as a one-of-a-kind home.
Address: 239 River Road, Rhinebeck
Asking Price: $2.5 million
Beds/Baths: 10 beds/5 baths
Year Built: 1879
Square Footage: 8,364 sq. ft.
Acreage: 5 acres
School District: Rhinebeck School District
Estimated Taxes: $27,806
Listed by E. Elizabeth Peters, Heather Croner Real Estate, Sotheby’s International Realty
In the market to own a piece of history? Look no further than the Ferncliff gatehouse, part of Ferncliff Farm, the former Astor Estate on River Road in Rhinebeck.
In its original state, Ferncliff Farm was primarily used as a farm; dairy and beef cattle were produced on its grounds, and William Backhouse Astor Jr. bred horses in its stables.
The property was unique for its time; in 1902, Ferncliff became home to one of the first indoor pools in the United States. Ferncliff was passed down through the Astor family following Astor Jr.’s death, and eventually, the estate was broken up and sold as separate properties, including the gatehouse.
The gatehouse previously operated as a location for guests of the estate to freshen up before arriving at the main property, before current owners Stan Lichens and Lois Guarino renovated it into the estate it currently is.
The sprawling five-acre property consists of five structures: The main gatehouse is the three-bedroom centerpiece of the estate, equipped with two Italian-tile baths, a wood-burning fireplace and a basement. Fern cottage offers another three bedrooms, as well as a bathroom and kitchen; a greenhouse, art studio, and pool house round out the compound.
Additions to the property, designed by Lichens, “honor and refer to” the original 19th century Romantic architecture, without attempting to be a carbon copy, according to Guarino. (In the 1990s, Lichens and Guarino received the annual preservation award from the Rhinebeck Historical Society for their additions.)
The lucky homeowners will feel immersed in the rich history of the grounds, thanks to unique features such as Gothic Revival windows, ashlar block walls, a root cellar with marble steps, and the aforementioned original Victorian glass greenhouse. “There is a feeling to the property that people mention consistently when they come here, that is inspiring and kind of otherworldly,” says Guarino.
“When you come here, you don’t feel like you’re in 2021,” says Lichens. “You are a part of an experience.”