A tea house once owned by America’s Wealthiest Family Is Being Sold for $7 million.


A tea house once owned by the wealthiest family in America is on the market for $7 million. The extravagant Astor family, once considered the richest in America, built this quirky tea house in Rhinebeck, New York, primarily for entertainment. It was a private retreat where Vincent Astor, the family patriarch, would enjoy tea or occasionally stronger beverages with his guests. A quaint railway linked it to the main residence.

Robert Duffy, co-founder of Marc Jacobs, acquired the tea house and its 44 surrounding acres for $2.31 million after the Astor property was subdivided and sold, 65 years after its construction. He transformed it into a luxurious six-bedroom residence in the Hudson Valley, now valued at $7 million.

Duffy, who lived nearby in the 1980s, stumbled upon the neglected teahouse during an interview with Elle Decor. He described the original structure as octagonal with two brick wings and arched entrances, where he and his friends would gather for leisure.

In the early 2000s, an older couple bought the teahouse with plans to expand and eventually reside there, but abandoned the project halfway through, leaving it empty for seven years until Duffy’s purchase in 2013.

Duffy recounted to Elle Décor a moment during renovations when he pressed on the columns and his fingers sank into the deteriorated material. His designer, Richard McGeehan, sourced historical cast-iron pillars from London to replace the original, compromised ones. They meticulously revamped the interior to meet Duffy’s exacting standards. The central tea room was transformed into a living room, adorned with vintage Persian rugs, gilt-framed Charles Webster Hawthorne paintings from 1910, a Moroccan armoire, and an English secretary desk with a lacquered finish. The north wing houses the master bedroom, bathroom, dressing room, two additional bedrooms, and a library, while the south wing includes two more bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, dining area, and office. The kitchen is modern, with stainless steel fixtures, white subway tiles, and a chef’s island. The dining room features hand-painted wallpaper.

The property also includes a guest barn, a treehouse, a maintenance barn, and a 65-foot saltwater pool with a pavilion.

The Astors, led by German immigrant John Jacob Astor who built his fortune in real estate and the fur trade in the early 1800s, were historically significant. Vincent Astor, a descendant who inherited the vast family wealth at 20 after his father died on the Titanic, built the teahouse on the family’s Ferncliff estate. When he died in 1959, his widow sold parts of the estate, directing his assets to the Vincent Astor Foundation.

Notably, other parts of the historic Astor estate are owned by figures like photographer Annie Leibovitz and former Google chairman Eric Schmidt. Chelsea Clinton chose Astor Courts, owned by Schmidt, for her wedding in 2010.


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