It’s a rare Friday afternoon that Steve and Ellen Tucker don’t hop in their car and make the 90-minute drive north from their home in New Jersey. Their weekend destination—Chapin Estate, a 2,500-acre community outside of Bethel, NY, where the Tuckers have owned a second home for several years.
“In just that short drive it’s as if we’ve entered another world,” says Ellen, a telecommunications consultant. “We can look out our window and see deer, fox and porcupines, along with eagles soaring in the air. The views across the lake and across the surrounding woods are simply breathtaking. It’s as if the whole community is almost the same as it was hundreds of years ago.”
Those would be welcome words to Chester W. Chapin, Jr., a New York City steamship and railroad baron with a great love of the outdoors and a strong sense of preservation. Beginning in 1891 Chapin started buying land in the Catskills until he had amassed some 20,000 acres, which he turned into his personal hunting preserve and private getaway, even importing a herd of elk that once roamed these hills. After Chapin’s death the property was owned by power companies before being put on the market in the 1990s. Steven Dubrovsky, president of the Woodstone Companies, bought about 4,000 acres, with the remaining parcel purchased by the state of New York as part of its Forever Wild preservation program.
Chapin Estate stretches along a pair of lakes—Toronto Reservoir and Swing Bridge Reservoir—with more than 2,000 acres of surface area for boating and other recreational pursuits. A wild stream also cuts through the community and offers some of the best flyfishing in the state.
From the outset, Dubrovsky says he and his development team wanted to remain true to Chester Chapin’s vision for the property.
“Many developers would go in and and try to mazimize their investment by squeezing in as many homes as they possibly could. We did it differently,” says Dubrovsky. “We didn’t want Chapin Estate to feel like a suburb outside of the city. We wanted to give owners estate-sized properties where they could enjoy the natural landscape and a great deal of privacy while still being part of a vibrant and active community.”
To that end, the smallest home sites in Chapin Estate are about five acres and range to more than ten acres, with prices from $150,000 for off-water lots. Waterfront home sites range from $500,000 to $1 million. Since welcoming its first owners in 2000, Chapin Estate has sold about 150 home sites and now boasts more than 100 homes with the vast majority of owners using their residences as weekend and vacation getaways. Home prices range from about $500,000 to more than $14 million.
The community is divided into four distinct neighborhoods—Top Ridge, Misty Acres, Swinging Bridge and Peninsula—with the Chapin Estate Lake Club providing a central gathering spot with its outdoor pool, lounging deck and a pavilion with a soaring stone fireplace. It boasts a catering kitchen and a fitness center. There are also miles of hiking trails that wind through the densely wooded property.
Another big draw—the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which is located just a short drive away at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. It boasts a 15,000-seat performing arts center with a full lineup of performances that includes everything from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to legendary rock groups and contemporary performers. In addition to numerous festivals and special presentations throughout the year, the center also has 10,000 square feet of permanent gallery space for a variety of art exhibitions.
While property owners at Chapin Estate can select a builder of their choice most go through the Woodstone Companies and its team of designers, wood carvers and artisans with homes reflecting its specialty of northwestern and Adirondack-style designs. An architectural review board must approve all building plans.
“We have Nantucket-style homes on the water and farmhouse-type homes, a fairly wide range of styles. But you won’t see contemporary steel-and-concrete style homes here,” says Dubrovsky. “That’s just not what we’re about.”
Many of the homes use timber that is cut from the property with prominent white pine beams, often with custom structural carvings to reflect the tastes and whims of the owner. At Steve and Ellen Tucker’s home, a massive white pine cut from their property was turned into an architectural element in the center of the house. It has a heart carved into it with the Tucker’s initials inside.
“Yes, it’s kind of corny and our children rolled their eyes over it,” says Ellen Tucker. “But this is our love nest, so it fits.”
Source: Exceptional Properties