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Tucked away among woodlands and surrounded by a private fence, 451 Claremont Road in Bernardsville, NJ has the sweetness of a country cottage with the expansive elegance of a country estate. Built in 1939, it was originally used as a staff quarters for the main house of the “Sunset House Estate” belonging to Ester Chapin (interestingly enough, a great-great-great-granddaughter of Martha Washington!), and it is easy to imagine how the staff would have enjoyed returning to it each day. This French-inspired stucco house is a charming counterpoint to the grandeur of the main house, which was designed by architect Arthur C. Jackson, after an estate Chapin saw while traveling in Europe. Priceless original details of the home have been lovingly maintained while the the home has undergone several renovations, including the addition of a master suite in 1993 and an expansion and renovation to create the gourmet kitchen in 2008.
The updated kitchen features granite countertops and a granite-topped center island, hardwood flooring, and a separate pantry. It is outfitted with high-quality, stainless steel appliances, and decorative tile backsplashes. An octagonal area was added, and serves as a sunny breakfast area under a soaring turret. The kitchen opens onto a bluestone terrace, creating an ideal setup for outdoor entertaining.
The entrance to the “recently” added first floor master suite is located at the end of a hallway, and is self contained from the rest of the house. Its features include a private full bathroom, custom carpeting, a tray ceiling, and deep crown moldings. The rest of the bedrooms, including the original master suite, are on the second floor. The master suite includes a dressing room and full bath with jetted tub. There are 3 more bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, and a hallway converted into a cozy library with window seat.
Many of the rich architectural details were preserved over the years, to create a rare collection of original features. The French-style carved wood mantelpiece over the living room fireplace, other mantels of imported tiles, and mahogany window seats, built ins, and inlaid floors: these are details that would be nearly impossible to recreate. Perhaps the most charming of the original features is in the dining room; a wall mural portrays an idyllic scene, and french doors open out onto a secret garden.
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The property also includes a separate building, which includes a potting room, studio/workshop space, and glass-roofed greenhouse, so it’s no wonder that previous owners have maintained a lush and elegant landscape. Other outdoor features of the home include perennial gardens, stone walls, bluestone terraces, and decorative fencing. The formal courtyard was designed by Nelva Weber, a landscape artist, lecturer, and writer who had designed the private estates of many high-profile clients, including Mary Rockefeller and Oscar de la Renta.
The listing for 451 Claremont Road is represented by Gerry-Jo Cranner of Turpin Realtors, and is currently asking $2.85 million. More details about this home and the larger estate can be found in Jack Turpin’s “New Jersey Country Houses, The Somerset Hills, Vol. II“.
Photographs courtesy of Turpin Realtors