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County Lines

Laurel Anderson

01 March 2013

Most who know the charming town of Unionville in southern Chester County think immediately of its equestrian connections. Its rolling hills are home to horse farms outlined by wooden fences that mark property lines but don’t limit pleasure riders or members of Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Hunt. Home to Olympic riders, as well as The Laurels Preserve and Willowdale Steeplechase, the area draws those who love horses, open space and a certain type of country life. 

And so, when a premier equestrian estate comes on the market, it’s more than local news. And when that property boasts appearances on the Chester County Day Tour, that’s a headline. Set on over 140 acres, Laurel Hill Farm is a singular equestrian compound consisting of a 14-stall barn with all the amenities — tack room, wash stall, storage loft, office, powder room, two-bedroom caretaker’s apartment; large indoor arena and outdoor arena; fenced paddocks, most with covered run-in sheds; and acres of prime pastures providing unparalleled views. In short, a horse lover’s paradise. 

More Than a Converted Barn
Drive along aptly named Hilltop View Road to find the residence at the end of a private lane. You’ll notice magnificent vistas extending over thousands of acres of conserved land, preserved in perpetuity. A millstone design stamped into the gracious entrance driveway sets the stage to receive visitors for a party, family weekend, or excursion on the miles of riding trails. 

Much more than a converted barn, the main house was crafted from reclaimed materials from an 1800s barn on the Mather Estate, now Radley Run Country Club. The home’s unique design integrates the solid feel of a Chester County barn in a thoroughly modern and family-friendly way. 

With a soaring three-story central interior space showcasing centuries-old wood beams, siding and rustic details, the contemporary design improves upon the barn conventions. Now there’s a soaring fieldstone fireplace, multi-story atrium, many modern amenities, and stunning views of the countryside — the owners say you can see to Honey Brook. On both sides of the home’s core, thoughtfully planned additions by local architect Richard Buchanan expand and update the living spaces, now including a three-car garage, five bedrooms and five full plus three partial bathrooms. 

One-of-a-Kind 
The home’s traditional façade gives no clue to the dramatic design within. Each space is uniquely tailored to maximize the character of the materials, incorporating beamed ceilings, stone walls and fireplaces, and wood everywhere. Master craftsmanship is displayed at every turn, from embedding the property name in the entry’s slate floor to custom built-ins, and details like pegged construction, barn hinges, ladders and a hay fork incorporated into the design. 

With a mix of privacy and communal space, the main floor flows from the gracious entry area to a spacious library / music / game room, three-story living room, formal dining room, modern butler’s pantry and kitchen, cozy family room, plus mudroom, dog room, and office. Most rooms have walls of windows, access to screened porches, and spectacular views of the property. 

Unlike many unused living rooms, this one is welcoming despite its grand scale. With soothing water sounds floating up from the atrium, two-stories of glass windows framing the view, and added interest from open stairways and balconies, the room draws you in. 

Distinctive Sleeping Spaces 
Five-plus bedrooms are tucked into the upper-level loft spaces, accessible by three staircases. From the largest, with space and a full bath perfect for a visiting family on an extended stay (or converting into an office or studio), to a smaller space on the top level with a bird’s-eye-view of the living room, each is distinctive, beautiful, comfortable and versatile. Easily converted into sitting rooms or playrooms, each bedroom has details — fireplace, stone wall, sleeping porch — to make it special. 

The master suite is similarly matchless, with its hallway / photo gallery entrance, sitting room, closet room (yes, a 20’x25’ room, not a mere walk-in), and two-story ceiling. Of the many details in the splendid master bath, the Jacuzzi tub with a view is perhaps the most appreciated. 

And More 
A second family room on the lower level extends to two additional, unusual features. A three-plus-story atrium, with its custom-built water feature, is surrounded by lush greenery to raise spirits on even the bleakest winter day. And then there’s the Narnia playroom, named for the exquisite murals on the walls. There, a large stuffed lion guards the wardrobe, with a door that opens in the back. 

As magical as Narnia, Laurel Hill Farm can perhaps best be appreciated from the terrace, where breathtaking vistas combine with the sight of your horses frolicking in the afternoon sunlight. 

This premier equestrian property with residence and outbuildings, set on over 140 acres, is offered at $5,885,000. For information, contact the Holly Gross Group, 484-678-0367; hollygross.com

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