Musings from the Owners….
History, Renovations and Everything to Love About 55 Davis Hill Road
History…Rambleside was built in 1938 by Fritz Reiner, famous for conducting the Metropolitan Opera and Chicago Symphony, teacher of Leonard Bernstein and Van Cliburn, host to his friend and composer Bella Bartók. There are a couple photos as you walk into the music room of Fritz and famous guests. Bartok lived in the home when he first arrived in the US…the cast party from the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Carmen was held at Rambleside, and when we moved in an elderly neighbor sent us a letter saying “some of the most famous opera singers of the day swam in your pool that night.” We love the musical history and the entertaining history of the home.
The Reiners left Rambleside to Columbia University in their wills. It seems Columbia didn’t know what to do with the gift. A developer created Hemlock Ridge from most of the property and carved out a distinct lot for Rambleside. A gentleman bought the carved out 55 but never moved in or made a mortgage payment. We became just the 2nd residents. At first a weekend home but after our 2nd child was born, it became our full-time home. We renovated to add a big family room/kitchen, garage, mudroom, master suite and additional bedroom suite above. We replaced all the windows and house underpinnings, added the blue stone patio trimmed in stonewalls to fit tons when entertaining, built a new pool and hot tub, and planted trees, flowers, shrubs and the garden…and more.
Warm and charming. A favorite compliment we hear is that the house is a warm and charming place. It is a very livable house. We raised our 3 children here, hosted countless family, work, fundraising, school, and team events. We have loved every inch. Our immediate and extended family will take many wonderful memories from over 25 years of Rambleside. The systems are rock solid…slate roof…washed brick and stone, magnificent wide-board floors…custom made French casement windows…wonderful pool …largely one room deep and many of the rooms enjoy light from three sides...and the serene, beautiful property is right outside every window.
And outside…magnificent mature plantings that have been cared for meticulously, the beech tree lit at night and the majestic oak ground the back and front lawns, a grove of cedars keeps the brick patio cool and filled with dappled sunlight, the big hemlocks shade a spot for a playground and the stone walk to the vegetable garden, a thousand daffodils bloom in spring and greet you as you come up the drive, multiple ground covers distinctively line the front of the house, the peony bed and huge hydrangea are a treat. The “lower forty” (~2 acres) and the trust land to the left as you come in the drive (~2 acres) are treasures: countless forts have been built and orienteering a favorite pastime.
Extraordinary home for entertaining…some examples:
- Nearly 50 family members young and old slept here and celebrated with us for a “millennial sleepover” New Year’s Eve 1999…
- Events every year for work: to celebrate the election of new partners; to welcome new associates; summer picnics with a carnival of games, pony rides and barbeque; 20-50-person business meetings.
- Countless dinner parties - 30 seated in the dining room; 60-150 seated under a tent in the back yard; 20 seated under a small tent on the front grass with a peony border; tables filling the breezeway looking out at the lit pool.
- Wedding reception for our daughter’s teacher.
- Beautiful music concerts, two were a classical trio led by a cellist in the Cleveland Orchestra, several a cappella groups...with the audience in rows of chairs lining the music room
- Fundraisers for schools, church, women’s shelter, habitat for humanity
- Annual holiday gatherings of extended family…with boys “dormitory” in the basement and girls “dormitory” in the music room.
Some room-by-room musings:
Kitchen and family room — The original tiny kitchen, garage and bedroom/bath above came down and we added the great room along with new garage, and master suite and bedroom/bath above. Design elements were chosen to blend with the original home…wide, multi sized oak floors, beams, oak built-ins, refinished original hardware. The kitchen island with resilient Pietra Cardoso stone is the best cooking class, party, or school project surface you can imagine. Two Miele dishwashers, 6-burner Viking stove, double Thermador ovens, 48” Sub Zero, cupboards, drawers and cabinets galore, and study, computer, project space.
Great mud room...and ½ bath trimmed in nautical chart tiles
Dining room — Warm and comfortable whether single table set for 4 or 14, or filled with tables and set for 30! Exposed beam ceiling and elegant doors onto the courtyard. Open the doors in any season; serve cocktails in the elegant courtyard.
Living room — Former Christie’s restorer refinished the oak-built-ins and beams, and glazed the country plaster walls a warm yellow. The fireplace draws beautifully. The front windows bring the sweeping front lawn into the room.
Breezeway...light-filled sitting room/office, and quiet spot for evening work. These and all the windows in the house are oak and were built for the house by Zeluck Custom Windows in Brooklyn.
Music room...a home office and stage for family “plays", or concert hall with rows of seats, a rock band practice room, a movie room, or a play room.
Guest wing...is sun filled and private - easily shut off from the house.
Bedrooms — Master suite has huge windows, perfect his/her closets, a sitting area. Three additional bedroom suites each with special features...a separate sitting room, ladder leading to a loft, window seat and built in cupboards.
Flexible, pleasant spaces — The house has lovely, easy to use, flexible spaces. And we can “dress up or down” every space inside and outdoors.