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Nancy Felcetto

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Mentioned in this Article:
Wall Street Journal

House Of The Day A Home Built With Divine Inspiration

Location: Putnam Valley, NY Price: $4,500,000
Modeled after a Franciscan chapel, this property includes a three-story bell tower, a guesthouse and a boathouse

Warren and Laura Schiele were living in Tribeca and looking for a weekend house when they found this property on Indian Lake in Putnam Valley, NY. ‘We were hiking and we came over a mountain and found the lake. Then I went to our Realtor and said “Who owns everything on the lake?”‘ says Mr. Schiele.

The couple paid $679,000 for two adjacent parcels in 2000, says Mr. Schiele. One parcel came with a boathouse and a cottage which they use as a guesthouse. The second parcel included a circa 1920s chapel and gathering place that had belonged to the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, says Mr. Schiele. They have their headquarters, called Graymoor, nearby. Over the years the couple have put more than $2 million into restoring and rebuilding the property, says Mr. Schiele. ‘When we stayed there originally we stayed in a tent—there were cracks in the walls,’ he says, referring to a main house that they later demolished.

‘We first rebuilt the little guesthouse and lived in that on weekends. Then we started construction on the main house and sold our place in Tribeca and moved up there,’ says Mr. Schiele. The two-story guesthouse has one bedroom and one bath. They redid the foundation, plumbing and heating in the guesthouse.

While they had planned to restore the main house, they tore it down because of its condition, Mr. Schiele says. They built a similar Arts-and-Crafts-style home complete with a copy of the three-story bell tower. ‘We felt an obligation to the community,’ says Mr. Schiele. ‘Most of the people on the lake were second or third generation and some of the residents had gone to church there as children. We felt [the architectural style] fit the lake. The structure was appropriate for the location.’

The dining room is in the same location as the dining room in the original building. ‘That was where the friars would sit and look out at the lake,’ says Mr. Schiele. The Schieles added the porch.

A meeting hall once occupied the kitchen space. The friars had a kitchen in a separate building that is no longer standing; instead, the Schieles planted five apple trees there.

The kitchen is one of Mr. Schiele’s favorite rooms. ‘I love cooking. You have a fireplace and a couch and people can sit around the island and talk while you’re peeling carrots,’ he says

The main house has 8,000 square feet. The 30.5-acre property also includes a two-story stone house that was once a caretaker’s cottage. The couple had planned to restore it. There is 858 feet of lake frontage.

Mr. Schiele says he will miss the tranquility. ‘You’re an hour from New York City, but it made you feel like you were somewhere magical or by one of the Adirondack lakes,’ he says. The couple are selling as they are downsizing and moving back to the city. Mr. Schiele, age 51, works in finance. Mrs. Schiele was in the fashion industry. (He declined to give her age.) The fireplace is where the altar was in the chapel.

The furnishings are negotiable and include some of the original pews from the church.

The couple will also miss the hiking, kayaking and canoeing. They keep three kayaks, two rowboats and a canoe at the house. Mr. Schiele likes to fish and catches brown trout, bass, perch, pickerel and blue gills.

The stained glass in the front door was custom made. The couple visited the main residence at Graymoor for inspiration and had the trims and moldings throughout the house hand-milled.

The wood railing on the third story of the bell tower was made from one of the original prayer rails in the chapel. ‘You sit there and read a book and you get beautiful light,’ says Mr. Schiele.

The master bedroom has two balconies and a fireplace.

The main house has four bedrooms, four full baths and two half baths. The house has air-conditioning, but Mr. Schiele says they seldom use it because the windows and the French doors capture the cross-breezes.

The master bath has a soaking tub, an open shower with three shower heads and radiant heat in the floor.

‘We’ve had so many great times there. At the top of the mountain is a giant field with a fire pit. Our friends would camp out. The water is so beautiful and so clean. You see blue herons on the property. We have red-tailed hawks as well as great horned owls and barred owls,’ says Mr. Schiele.

They repointed the original stone steps that lead down to the floating dock and the boathouse. In the winter when the lake freezes, there is ice skating and pick-up hockey games with the neighbors, says Mr. Schiele. The home has an asking price of $4.5 million. Fred Waring III and Nancy Felcetto of Halstead Property share the listing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016