A family who has lived on a property for more than 40 years has myriad stories to share.
That’s the case at Hallmark Farm, which sits on more than 200 acres in Millbrook, New York, and has been home to Jane and Shepard Ellenberg for 42 years.
However, the farm had a storied past before the Ellenbergs arrived, having once been owned—and operated as part of the family’s elk preserve—by Margaret Carnegie Miller, the only child of steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Now, the property has hit the market for $20 million with Michael Kotler of Douglas Elliman and Oliver Brown of Houlihan Lawrence.
“The property is extraordinary,” Jane Ellenberg said. “Do you remember in ‘The Sound of Music’ when Julie Andrews is on top of the hill? That’s how I felt the first time I saw it. It was breathtaking, sensational, extraordinary. And, as a result, I fell in love and it’s been a property that you just love because of how magnificent it is.”
Since their first look at the estate, the couple—avid equestrians—have put their own stamp on it, expanding the existing farmhouse to the four-bedroom, flour-and-a-half bathroom residence that stands today and adding stables with 10 stalls. They worked with the French architecture firm, Atelier Choiseul, on the projects.
“It is a very environmentally healthy space for the horses to live,” Ellenburg said. “It always has a cross ventilation breeze and no sweating or anything like that. We combined three different types of wood: The European beech made up all the partitions, then part of the stable was pine, the lower back was American Oak. … But all of these woods were blended with the same tone.”
The couple has also hosted countless events on the property, Ellenberg said. That includes years of the Millbrook Hunt’s hunter trials, a notable equestrian event in the area that dates to the 1890s, and the “fabulous picnics” that were part of the event. They also held cocktail parties, concerts and other rides—including annual Thanksgiving hunts that ended in an elaborate dinner (except the year Ellenberg forgot to turn on the oven to cook the turkey).
The home itself can fit about 75 to 85 guests, Ellenberg noted. The integrity of the original house is still there, but she added more space for entertaining, including what she thinks of as her “indoor tent,” including a living room, dining room and chef’s kitchen.
They also created a primary suite that’s separate from the other bedrooms, she explained. That allowed guests and children privacy, while allowing peace and quiet for the owners. An elevator was added as well.
Ellenberg said memories from her and her husband’s many years at the farm have been bubbling up, although the couple is moving to a smaller property in the area (but not so small that they can’t keep horses). She also noted that the land still has a place in the hearts of the Carnegie descendants. In fact, one of Margaret Carnegie Miller’s grandchildren calls up every few years to ask to visit the property to show her children where her family once lived.
And although they never hosted Julie Andrews, the Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti once visited the estate, she said. He sang on the hill that made Ellenberg fall in love with the property so many years ago.