A PRIVATE OCEANSIDE RETREAT
The Chimneys on Dana Beach in Manchester-By-The-Sea, Massachusetts, is steeped in American history, landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and home to 175 years of family memories.
The property’s meandering approach follows the land’s natural contours through woodlands thinned to allow dappled sunlight to illuminate the forest floor. Deep green, hundred-year-old Rhododendrons hint at the touch of landscape artistry as the narrow drive threads 28 acres of private land, suggesting a sense of Massachusetts history. In fact, The Chimneys is enriched by both; the estate was originally created by Richard Henry Dana in 1844 and then refined by the great landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in the early 20th Century. At the end of the half-mile journey, a 13,000 square foot home rises above an acre and a half of lawn to command what appears to be the top of a hill. Only when one enters the porte cochère and steps into the grand foyer does Olmsted reveal his surprise – horizonto-horizon ocean vistas and a sweeping white sand beach. The Chimneys is a sanctuary of grandeur, quiet, and peace where the only sounds are those of singing birds and the seductive lapping of ocean waves.
Richard Henry Dana, Sr. was born 11 years after the American revolution to a family whose Massachusetts roots stretched back to 1640. Although a graduate of Harvard Law, Dana styled himself a poet and practiced little. In 1844, a visit to his friend, Reverend Oliver Taylor of the Manchester Congregational Church led to his purchase of a bluff where he built a two-story home overlooking Graves Island. The Danas were the first seasonal residents in Manchester and the beach below the bluff still bears the family name. Three generations of Danas summered by the shore including Richard Henry, Jr. the prominent seaman’s advocate and abolitionist who wrote the influential Two Years Before The Mast.
Following the death of Richard, Sr. in 1879, the family property was divided into six lots; his daughter, Ruth Charlotte Dana inherited the center of the estate, which included the house and 700 feet of the beach. In 1902, Boston investment banker, Gardiner Lane and his wife, Emma, purchased Charlotte’s parcel, demolished the Dana residence and built a Georgian Colonial Revival home they called The Chimneys. The surviving 28-acre property is the only part of the original estate that remains intact and is believed to be the largest Massachusetts shorefront parcel north of Boston.
For over 175 years, just three families have enjoyed proprietorship of the original Dana estate and for 117 years, only two families have experienced the incomparable pleasure of living at The Chimneys. In 1991, the current owners bought the estate and immediately undertook an historically sensitive restoration of the gardens. Five years later, they began a comprehensive renovation of the main house and support structures and added new cobblestone hardscapes. In 2004, they added a new orangerie-style Greenhouse, echoing the appearance of the Olmsted designed Potting Shed.
The gardens, designed in 1906 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., have provided the owners and their guests with many seasons of tranquil pleasure. Garden rooms flow from the bluff in a series of sequential terraces in an architectural response to the naturally sloping topography. A Water Terrace at the top leads to the Lavender Terrace, which is followed by the white flower Tea Terrace before descending to the Crabapple Allée. Beside the Allée are rows of vegetable beds and below it is a Rose Garden and, beyond that, an area of native plantings. While the bones of the property are beautiful year-round, The Chimneys achieves its true promise with the spring’s green shoots and then revels in the warmth and long light of summer before yielding to the lush, bronzed foliage of autumn. Picking the last of the garden vegetables is an annual rite of passage.
The grand home, with its distinctive seven chimneys, currently is configured with eight bedrooms, six with full baths and two that share. The First-Floor flows graciously with lovely, classically scaled rooms of elegant proportions, yet the feeling is family-friendly and very comfortable. In addition to the Dining and Living Rooms, a Garden Office contains the reference library built from decades of caring for the seven acres of plantings, and an Art Library that reflects another of the current owners’ interests. Each has a working fireplace. On the west end of the home a Music Room was added in 1998. On the east, the Kitchen and Family Room form the heart of the home, the latter including its most used fireplace. The spacious custom Kitchen, augmented with an open Butler’s Pantry, features a wood-fired oven and wood-charcoal Tuscan grill. On the Second Floor, the Master Suite incorporates an unusually spacious bathroom that includes two mirrored sinks, an eight-fixtured shower, an elevated tub and a powder room with an ocean view. The Master Bedroom links to a gleaming mahogany Dressing Room that connects to a Media Room and Library. Two Second Floor Guest Rooms have ocean views and two more overlook more than an acre of lawn. The Third Floor retains the original Butler’s Suite plus two more bedrooms that share a bath. The 4000 square foot Carriage House also has been fully restored. Its ground floor once housed the current owners’ car collection and is now an office. The two-bedroom apartment above has alternatively served as a home for senior staff and lodging for visiting summer families.
At first blush, The Chimneys can seem imposing, but the property is primarily, and always has been, a warm and welcoming family home. Yes, it is very private, but it is not isolated: five minutes to the restaurants, harbor, and resources of charming Manchester-By-The-Sea; 18 minutes to the jet-friendly (and rarely fogged-in) Beverly airport; and 40 minutes by car or train to the shops, museums, restaurants and cultural attractions of historic Boston. Nothing is far; it just feels that way. The Chimneys is a storied property with a distinguished history where three fortunate families have exchanged the outside world for one of privacy and grace. Long may this tradition continue.
Asking Price: $24,000,000
MICHAEL L. CARUCCI
Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty
Executive Vice President