Crazy 12-Bedroom New England Lake Compound Is Up for Half Price
After Gary Bahre and his parents built two houses totaling 63,000 square feet on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee, they realized they’d gone a little overboard. “The houses are more than I’d ever need as a single man,” said Bahre, a 53 year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist whose family money comes, in part, from selling the New Hampshire Speedway in 2007 for $340 million. “And for my parents, I think it was a case of what they thought they needed vs. what they actually needed.”
They did not need, it turned out, a 12-bed, 26-bath compound on 16.6 acres, particularly because Bahre lives most of the year on St. Barts, and his parents split most of their time between houses in Maine and Florida.
So they’ve put the property on the market for $25.8 million. If the price seems steep for New Hampshire, consider that when it first went on the market two and a half years ago, the asking price was $49 million. “If we’re going to sell them, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” Bahre said in explanation for the nearly 50 percent price cut. “But just look at the property, it’s so impressive.”
And it is, by almost any measure. Built on a former’s boys camp that the family bought in the late 1990s for around $2.5 million, the houses were designed by John Morris Architects in Camden, Me.
Bahre’s house, he said, is almost an exact replica of the residence of S. Prestley Blake, a co-founder of the Friendly Ice Cream Corporation and, as it happened, a neighbor of Bahre’s grandfather in Somers, Conn. “Growing up, I absolutely loved his house, so I was determined I was going to have the house,” Bahre said. Blake, a friend of the family, allowed Bahre’s architects to take measurements in and around his Connecticut residence, so that now, “if you saw his house, and you saw my house, aside from the fact I modified the garage a little, you’d think they were the exact same home,” Bahre said.
The inside, however, has touches that are all Bahre’s own. There’s a “Moroccan themed” room inspired by the Hotel Mamounia in Marrakech, which Bahre visited, and there’s a secret staircase hidden behind a bookcase (you have to punch a code into a book, then the wall swings open), which leads to a room full of rock-and-roll records and memorabilia. “I’ll say that’s a pretty standout feature,” he said.
Bahre’s parent’s house, which is the larger of the two, took shape during the construction process. “My mom didn’t know what she wanted to do other than have something that was symmetrical,” Bahre said. “Whereas I went in knowing exactly what I wanted from Day 1, hers sort of morphed and transitioned as we went along.” His parents’ house has an elevator, two-story ballroom, and large entertaining spaces.
There are parallels between the houses, though. Both have libraries, and both have lower levels that open onto the lake with home theaters, game rooms, and fitness studios.
Separately, there’s also a 7,000-square-foot “entertaining barn” with guest rooms, game machines, and a dining area and is the site of a yearly gathering of economists that Bahre hosts for his own edification. “I’m just fascinated by it,” Bahre said, so he has hosted, among others, Marc Faber, Gary Shilling, Nouriel Roubini, John Taylor, Larry Lindsey, and Kenneth Rogoff.
Now that he’s selling the house, though, will he continue to host his mini economic forum? “I guess I’ll bring them to St. Barts instead,” Bahre said. “I don’t think they’d mind.”