$15 Million Can Buy You a Small Piece of Hamptons History
In 1910, an attorney named Albert Barnes Boardman bought close to 10 acres in downtown Southampton, N.Y., and spent $250,000 (approximately $30 million today) to build a 24-room, four-story mansion modeled after the Villa Medici in Rome. There were formal gardens, fountains, sprawling lawns, a tennis court, and a gatehouse.
Boardman owned it until 1927, after which the house suffered a series of increasingly debilitating indignities: First, it was turned into a hotel. Next, it became a casino, after which, improbably, it was converted into a convent. By the time the restaurateur Jan Mitchell (famous for reviving the Longchamps chain and Lüchow's restaurant) bought it in 1960, the villa, once named "Villa Mille Fiori," or "House of a Thousand Flowers," had fallen into a state of abject disrepair.
Mitchell tore down the main building and turned the gatehouse into a summer home for his wife and three young children. Now, an additional 50 years later and six years after Mitchell's death, those children have divided the property in two; they've already sold one lot for $13.7 million. The second, a 4.4-acre plot, is currently on sale for $14.95 million. "It's a great property," said David Mitchell, Jan's son and the owner of the real estate development company Mitchell Holdings. "Time has created a valuable commodity out of it."
The landscaping on the property has remained intact for 100 years. "The trees are totally mature, the plan is basically untouched," the younger Mitchell said, noting that there have been a few modifications. "There was a giant fountain," he said, "and my parents turned it into a pool."
The gatehouse-cum-main house has six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, a living room, a formal dining room, and a central kitchen area spread out over 6,000 square feet of interior space. As his parents expanded the house, "it had a children's section and an adult section," Mitchell said. "Two kitchens, two living rooms—it was basically two homes connected by a formal dining room."
Mitchell and his siblings gut-renovated the house four years ago, eliminating some of the redundancies. "Now it's more consistent," he said.
Mitchell, who owns a vacation house in nearby Sagaponack, said he and his siblings briefly considered keeping the property before realizing it was impractical.
"It's three brothers and everyone has a different style and different family structures," he said, "but it's one property, and to build three houses or to just share one would be impossible."
The property is listed by Michaela Keszler at Douglas Elliman.