Live the Gatsby Life in This Grand Nyack Mansion
This jewel of a home in Rockland has a celebrity provenance.
Pretty Penny, in Nyack, boasts specimen trees, a riverside pool, and many other luxuries.
photos by Andrea B. Swenson
Pretty Penny, built in 1858, was the home of Helen Hayes — the First Lady of the American Theater — for 61 years, and was later owned by TV and film personality Rosie O’Donnell. The Italianate Victorian mansion retains its beautiful original architecture, with smart updates that accommodate modern living.
The home underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation in the early 2000s; work included restorations as well as updates, making the house as comfortable as it is spectacular. You’ll find outsized, luxurious bathrooms as well as beautifully appointed bedrooms with views of the Hudson River. The kitchen has been uniquely updated with a stately cooking area (and, of course, a river view).
Outside, more than $500,000 worth of rare specimen trees were planted to enhance what’s already prime real estate leading down to the Hudson River. The Olympic-size pool has a view of the river, as well as a fun story: After a long night of celebration with legendary actor John Barrymore, Hayes’ husband Charles MacArthur had blocks of ice delivered to the pool to cool the water; Barrymore climbed onto a block of ice and remarked that he felt “like a fly in a highball”!
There are lots more memories to be made here for the next owner. Pretty Penny (named by a friend of Hayes and MacArthur because when they bought it in 1932, it cost “a pretty penny”) is a short walk away from Nyack’s Main Street shops and restaurants, and only 22 miles from New York City.
The home’s architectural touches can be dressed up or down, as formally or informally as desired. There are eight fireplaces throughout, leaded-glass windows with views of the Hudson, and unique details like a ship’s-rope handrail leading to the basement. The bright white clapboard exterior surrounds a solid brick shell, ensuring Pretty Penny won’t lose its luster for years to come.
Listed by Richard Ellis, Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty, Nyack: 914.393.0438; www.ellissothebysrealty.com