5 Historic American Estates You Can Buy Right Now

Including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's personal paradise.

Let's say you've come into some Monopoly money and you're in the market for new digs—but just run-of-the-mill mansion won't do. The ideal property should provide stories that can be effortlessly regaled over cocktails at the fabulous, erudite dinner parties you envision. Only something with heritage and character will convince you to write that check. We get it. So as a public service, let us offer five of America's most distinctive estates currently for sale, each with unique provenance. And as a bonus, they're certain to return a handsome profit when the time comes. And speaking of investments, here are The 20 Savviest Investment Moves to Make Right Now.

3500 Jackson Street, San Francisco

Estates, legacy estates

The home at 3500 Jackson Street, in San Francisco's stately Presidio Heights neighborhood, was the work of Bernard Maybeck, an architect of considerable renown in the early decades of the 20th century, with the domed Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco among his credits. A wedding gift to Elizabeth Leslie Meyerfeld and Leon Lazare Roos from the bride's father in 1906, the house has been in the family for three generations and is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.

Among an abundance of period-perfect charms are a Great Room with twenty-foot ceilings, including a baronial 10-by-16 foot fireplace built for open-flame cooking. The first two doors were primarily used for entertaining since the elder Mrs. Roos was an active socialite in the worlds of theater and literature. Built soon after the devastation of the San Francisco earthquake, which had rendered over 56 percent of the city's denizens homeless, it became the first house on the block, one street south of the Presidio, the historic former Army base on San Francisco Bay.

Today, the vast kitchen has been modernized and there is also a study, three family rooms, a library, wine cellar, and space for several cars. And to get the best use out of that wine cellar, here's How to Start a Wine Collection, By the World's #1 Wine Expert.

The home is priced at $16 million and is being offered by Nina Hatvany. Visit www.ninahatvany.com for more information.

Photo courtesy of Open Homes Photography 

Merrywood; McLean, Virginia

Estates, legacy estates

"I always love it so at Merrywood—so peaceful . . . with the river and those great steep hills," wrote young Jacqueline Bouvier in 1944, according to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life. Jackie's new abode came courtesy of stepfather and Standard Oil heir, Hugh D. Auchincloss. Constructed in 1919, Hugh bought the 46-acre, gated estate in the 1930's, and later married Jackie's mother, Janet Lee Bouvier, in 1942. Surrounded by rolling lawns and formal gardens, the Georgian-style mansion had everything the future first lady could wish for, including indoor and outdoor pools, lighted tennis court, and 11 full bathrooms. Even after Jackie and Jack Kennedy moved into the White House, they retreated to Merrywood so often that it was code named "Hamlet" by the Secret Service.

The property is currently owned by America Online co-founder Steve Case and his wife, Jean Case, Chairman of the National Geographic Society, empty-nesters seeking to downscale. Until recently, residential sales in the Washington, D.C. area have topped out at around $25 million. The 23,000 square foot, nine-bedroom Merrywood estate, purchased by Mr. Case for $24.5 million, is listed at $49.5 million, easily crushing the previous record assuming it sells anywhere near the asking price. Also, be sure to think like a legacy estate owner by knowing the 5 Ways Billionaires Think Differently Than Most People.

The property is listed by Mark C. Lowham of TTR Sotheby's International Realty. www.sothebysrealty.com.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty 

Harvey Weinstein's beach house; Amagansett, Long Island

Estates, legacy estates

Oscar-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein, and his wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, are saying farewell to their ocean-side Amagansett compound. The 9,000 square foot getaway, built by filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld in 1995, includes—naturally—a 3-D equipped, 20-foot-wide screen theater complete with lobby bar and vintage popcorn machine, widely considered the nest home theater setup in the Hamptons. The lower level also includes a gym, a steam shower and sauna, recreation room, wine room, and a children's playroom.

At just under two acres, the property overlooks Gardiner's Bay, with private beach access, and comes with a heated pool and Jacuzzi. There is also a guest wing with separate entrance and a master suite with private balcony. The Weinsteins bought the palatial estate for $11.4 million a little over three years ago, in June 2014. But only two years in they concluded that they were not able to spend enough time in Amagansett to justify it and the home went on the market for $13.5 million. A lack of buyer interest led them to rescind the listing, only to return, priced to sell at $12.4 million.

Now, if you want something a little more secluded, here is How to Buy a Private Island (Which Is Cheaper Than You Think).

Sotheby's International Realty is the broker. www.sothebysrealty.com.

Photo courtesy of Jake Rajs

Tirranna; New Canaan, Connecticut

Estates, legacy estates

One of Frank Lloyd Wright's last projects before his passing in 1959, Tirranna (Indigenous Australian for "running waters") is situated in the southeastern Connecticut town of New Canaan, overlooking the Noroton River at 432 Frogtown Road. The living/dining wing overlooks a pool that steps down to a pond with adjoining gardens, designed by noted landscape architect Frank Okamura, a bonsai master known for single-handedly restoring a wilted, neglected post-war Brooklyn Botanic Garden to greatness. With the help of Charles Middeleer, a highly-regarded local landscape architect, they reshaped a portion of the Noroton River that meanders through the 15-acre property to accommodate Wright's vision.

The place is built with standard concrete block and Colorundum flooring in Wright's preferred color, Cherokee red. The building's hemicycle shape is influenced by the Guggenheim Museum project Wright was consumed with at the same time he constructed Tirrana. The house was later modified in 1958 with an extension to include an observatory above the master bedroom and a playhouse. The house also features double master baths, an interior courtyard, a caretaker's suite, guest studio, pool and tennis court, and a barn, with sculpture paths winding through the landscape.

The property, last owned by American entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Stanley and his wife Vada, was put on the market by the couple's heirs in January 2017 for $8,000,000. And for more great purchasing ideas, here are 20 Purchases That Are Always Worth The Money.

As of this writing, the listing was reduced to $7,200,000. See more at www.houlihanlawrence.com.

Photo courtesy of Robert Gruszcynski.

Woodland Manor; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Estates, legacy estates

Paul Fireman, known for acquiring British Reebok and subsequently building it into one of America's most valuable brands, is offloading the most expensive home in one of the most expensive realty markets in the nation.

At $90 million, this Massachusetts mega-mansion exceeds the next most-aggrandized property in the state by about $60 million. Overlooking one of Boston's most exclusive golf clubs, the estate was designed and built in 1999 by Shope Reno Wharton Architects, known for the neo-classic structures that dot wealthy enclaves throughout Connecticut and Long Island.

Made of Indiana limestone, the same used in the Empire State building, 'Woodland Manor,' adjacent to the patrician Brookline Country Club, is situated on 14-acres of pristine, historic hills near Boston that count Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady among its nearest neighbors. Checking in at approximately 26,623 square feet, it features 8 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, and a 2-story foyer with a spiral staircase worthy of American royalty—plus living and dining rooms, kitchen and breakfast room, family room, library, home office, and a four-car garage, which, considering its size, doesn't sound as impressive as the price tag implies.

It must be seen to appreciate. Outdoor amenities comprise a gated entrance, large terrace, and assorted ponds. Now for more great wealth and leadership advice, here are 20 Things Only Successful Startup Founders Know.

Woodland Manor, located at 150 Woodland Road in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, is listed with Jonathan P. Radford and Deborah M. Gordon at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. www.coldwellbankerhomes.com.

Photo courtesy of Coldwell Banker 

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