Historic Homes: If Only These Walls Could Talk

Last week we featured five historically intriguing and charmingly spooky homes and the stories that make them so memorable. In case you missed any of these storied homes, here is the collection that was featured.

Ma Barker’s Gangster Hideout in Ocklawaha, Florida

ma_barker_houseThe Barkers were a 1930′s gangster family that rented the home as a hideout from the FBI.  Read the entire story here.

Elijah Haven Homeplace in Ashburnham, Massachusetts

haunted_houses_halloweenElijah Haven Homeplace is a 78+ acre gentlemen’s farm with a ghostly story. Read the entire story here.

Westinghouse-Lindbergh House in Bainbridge Island, Washington


This waterfront charmer was once home to two legendary American families.  Read the entire story here.

Sword Gate House in Charleston, South Carolina

haunted_houseThe Sword Gate House located in the old walled city in Charleston, South Carolina has over 200 years of history.  Read the full story here.

A Collegiate Charmer in Johnson City, Tennessee

haunted_house_halloweenA historic college fraternity house rooted in country western music history. Read the entire story here.

Search all historic homes on sothebysrealty.com.

The Russian Buyer: Valuing the Unity of Form and Substance

From the pages of RESIDE®: Luxury Homes and Lifestyles Around the World, Fall 2012 European Edition

In recent years Russian buyers have developed into some of the most savvy, discerning and dependable investors in international real estate. As reported in the New York Times earlier this year, because they’re among the most active global figures in high-end acquisitions, real estate brokers and attorneys in places like Manhattan and Florida are crafting strategies specifically catered to wealthy Russian businessmen and entrepreneurs. According to the Times, approximately $84 billion in Russian wealth was spent outside the country in 2011, most of it in real estate, while the number of billionaires in Russia and Ukraine has risen to 109, triple what it was in 2009.

Since the dissolution of the former Soviet Union over 20 years ago, high net-worth Russians have regularly sought to diversify their holdings in safe, non-Russian commodities, including luxury property. But despite what some may believe, simply dangling extravagant homes and apartments, lavishly designed interiors and elite addresses will not alone make premium investors bite.

“Russians today are smarter, faster and family oriented,” says Anvar Kalimov, Partner and CEO for Moscow Sotheby’s International Realty. “The time when they were coming to Paris to buy a luxury flat with a view of the Eiffel Tower for no matter what price are over.”

“These are people who have developed an exquisite individual taste, having traveled all over the world and owned various properties both in Moscow and abroad,” he continues. “Above all they value the unity of form and substance – obviously for an adequate price.”

Russians buyers, in addition to diversification opportunities, are placing more importance on attributes like value and lifestyle orientation. Considerations like private schools, resale potential, market timing and price per square meter are driving transactions to the same degree that size, status and lavish fixtures once did.

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Content provided by Derek Duncan exclusively for Sotheby’s International Realty®.

Kenny Chesney’s Collegiate Home in Tennessee

This week we have featured some of our most historically intriguing and charmingly spooky homes. Our series concludes today with a former fraternity house said to be the topic of several chart-topping country music songs.

$500,000 / Johnson City, Tennessee / Alliance Sotheby’s International Realty

Built in 1914, this restored historical home is located in Johnson City, Tennessee just steps from East Tennessee State University. For the past 30 years, the home has served as a prestigious men’s fraternity house. Much of the home’s history has remained preserved, including the plantation-style covered side porch and the claw foot tubs.

In the late 1980?s, award-winning American country music singer, Kenny Chesney was a member of the fraternity and occupied the home. The current owner attended the university with Chesney and her father was also one of the fraternity brothers. Chesney’s initials, along with all of the other fraternity brothers, are carved in the stairwell.  The singer references the home in several of his songs, including “Back Where I Come From.”

In the backyard, there is a headstone from a grave that the fraternity brothers say was there when the home was purchased. The current owner remembers many spooky Halloween parties that have occurred at the fraternity house there over the years.


Click here to see the other homes featured in this week’s historic homes series.

The Historic Sword Gate House in South Carolina

Part four of our historic home series continues today with the Sword Gate House in Charleston, South Carolina (See which homes were featured in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the series).

Located in the heart of Charleston’s old walled city, Sword Gate House is an expansive home that was remodeled and renovated several times over the past two centuries. The earliest dwelling was constructed in 1808 with the finest moldings and mantles, many of which are still preserved in the home today.  A significant modification came in 1849, with the addition of the Sword Gates at the grand entrance to the home. These gates were originally hand crafted for Charleston’s Guard House at City Hall, but were deemed too fine and expensive for public use.

Haunted House Charleston

$18,800,000 / Charleston, South Carolina / Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty

Throughout the home’s history it has operated as a school, a boutique inn, and has also been open to the public for tours.  From 1819 through 1848, the residence was a distinguished girl’s academy run by headmistress, Anne Talvande. According to a 1983 article in The News and Courier, a rather embarrassing incident for the notoriously strict Madame Talvande threatened to tarnish the school’s image. One night, a 15-year-old student and daughter of a wealthy local family escaped from the boarding school and eloped with a young New Yorker. Needless to say, Madame Talvande was most embarrassed when she learned of the marriage and was determined that it would never happen again. Even now, more than a century later, her spirit is said to keep a watchful eye on the property.

real_haunted_houseTomorrow concludes our historic home series with a country western signer’s former Fraternity house in Tennessee.

Significant Sales August 2012

This month’s issue of Significant Sales starts with the sale of a spectacular estate in beautiful Montecito, highlighting the strength of coastal properties in California. Additionally, we showcase magnificent properties in Manhattan, Hawaii and Aspen. On a global level we are proud to present top sales in both Portugal and Hong Kong.

montecito luxury real estate

$21,500,000 / California, USA / Sotheby’s International Realty-Montecito-Coast Village Road Brokerage

Santa Barbara ? This spectacular Santa Barbara estate offers panoramic views over the coastline. The main residence features five bedrooms, six baths and three powder rooms. A two-bedroom, two-bath guest house, swimming pool, cabana, tennis court and circular motor court are also located on the property.


luxury apartments for sale manhattan

$19,250,000 / New York, USA / Sotheby’s International Realty-East Side Manhattan Brokerage

Manhattan ? This immense duplex in Manhattan’s most celebrated residential landmarks designed by architect Rosario Candela. The 15-room apartment includes a private elevator landing, a vast marble Gallery and a grand staircase. The main level features a baronial living room, a walnut paneled library and a tremendous dining room. All boast sunny southern outlooks and wood burning fireplaces. Upstairs off a long gallery hall are four enormous bedrooms with over-sized walk-in closets and en suite marble bathrooms.



$18,500,000 / Massachusetts, USA / Maury People Sotheby’s International Realty

Nantucket ? This spacious family compound in Nantucket was designed and built with unsurpassed quality. From its site high on the Cliff next to Steps Beach, there are outstanding views of Great Point, Nantucket Harbor and the Sound from every room. The main house and guest cottage are separated by lawn, pool and outdoor entertaining area with fireplace, and connected sotto terra by an underground passageway. There are private stairs to the beach.

View All Significant Sales in August 2012>

Westinghouse-Lindbergh House in Seattle, Washington

We continue our week-long series of historic homes with a legendary property that once was home to two prominent American families.


$1,949,000 USD / Bainbridge Island, Washington / Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty

This extremely private Georgian style estate in Bainbridge Island in Washington State, was built in 1908 on a parcel of land that was formerly an apple orchard.

The homes’ privacy is what attracted the decedents of George Westinghouse, the American entrepreneur, engineer and main rival of Thomas Edison, sometime around the late 1920?s.  During this era, the United States was gripped by the kidnappings of famous people’s children, including the tragic kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s toddler son in 1932. Many wealthy East Coast families, like the Westinghouse’s, sought safe havens to raise their families on the West Coast.

Coincidentally, Charles Lindbergh’s second son, Jon, purchased the home in the mid-1960s and lived there with his wife and their six children for several of decades.  In fact, the large wood carving which were hand-carved by Jon Lindbergh himself can still be found in the kitchen of the home today.


Tomorrow’s featured Storied Home is the Sword Gate House in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Storied Past of the Elijah Haven Homeplace

Yesterday commenced our week-long series of blogs called, “Embracing a Home’s Storied Past,” which showcases a collection of historically intriguing and charmingly spooky properties (Read Part 1 here).  Today’s property is the Elijah Haven Homeplace in Ashburnham, Massachusetts.


Ashburnham, Massachusetts / TP Hazel Sotheby’s International Realty


Built in 1830, the Elijah Haven Homeplace is a 78+ acre gentleman’s farm with quintessential New England charm.  In 1991, John Rahaim and Scott Bingham purchased the property and immediately begun the task of updating and upgrading the central chimney and fireplace. The handyman hired to meticulously dismantle the fragile structure recalls a protective presence present which prevented a nearly disastrous swing of his hammer.


“Since then, we have felt the presence as well—always supportive and protective of the farm and its inhabitants,” explains Rahaim. “For several years since, Elijah Haven Homeplace has been an unhosted bed & breakfast income property for us and we have had multiple guest comment that there is a benevolent, supportive and protective spirit in residence. For over 20 years, it certainly has been for us and those with whom we’ve shared this very special place.”


Our series continues tomorrow with the historic Westinghouse-Lindberg Estate in Washington State.

Ma Barker’s Gangster Hideout in Florida

If only those walls could talk.  When a home has a storied past, many homeowners find preserving it’s history a labor of love.  This week we feature a collection of some our most historically intriguing and charmingly spooky homes available.  Up first, Ma Barker’s Gang Hideout, in Ocklawaha, Florida. 

Kate “Ma” Barker was the mother of five sons who ran the Barker-Karpis gang in the Midwest United States in the 1930?s.  By the the mid 1930?s the family fled to Central Florida before their whereabouts were discovered by the FBI.  A shootout ensued at the property as federal agents attempted to arrest Ma Barker and one of her five sons.


The home has remained virtually unchanged, including the antique furnishing and period architecture, since the time when Ma Barker rented it from the current owner’s great grandparents. Though infamous for its questionable house guests, the home went on to become a beloved summer house for many generations of family members.


Ocklawaha, Florida / Stirling Sotheby’s International Realty

Watch an interview with the current owner to learn more about the home’s colorful past.

Tomorrow’s featured Storied Home is the Elijah Haven Homeplace in Ashburnham, Massachusetts.

Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Enters Lithuania

Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC today announced its luxury real estate services are available for the first time in Lithuania with the opening of Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty in the capital city of Vilnius.

The Lithuania office is owned by Vestards Rozenbergs, Leonid Kil, Ilze Mazurenko, Paulius Gebrauskas and Marius Bružas. Rozenbergs, Kil and Mazurenko opened the first Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty office in Riga, Latvia, in March 2010, followed by openings in the Baltic Sea resort town of Jurmala that year and Talinn, Estonia, in July 2011. Gebrauskas and Bružas also serve as managing partners for the Lithuania office.

“Our continued expansion across the Baltic states underscores our commitment to providing access to our network’s exclusive real estate services in this unique territory, which holds great interest to the important neighboring Commonwealth of Independent States and Eastern Europe markets,” said Michael R. Good, chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “Lithuania is the largest of the three Baltic States with a growing luxury market in the historic capital city of Vilnius and vibrant areas of Kaunas, Klaipeda, Palanga, Nida and Druskininkai. We look forward to growth in this market under the leadership of Vestards and his team of seasoned entrepreneurs and sales professionals.”

“Baltic Sotheby’s International Realty combines strong client relationships at home and abroad with a professional infrastructure and sales agents with strong local knowledge,” said Rozenbergs. “In addition to providing exceptional service at a variety of price points, with the introduction of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand to this territory, we hope to further enhance the image of the Baltic States as a luxury real estate destination on an international scale with access to a worldwide network of offices, global contacts and association with the prestigious Sotheby’s Auction House.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty® network currently has more than 12,000 sales associates located in approximately 625 offices in 44 countries and territories worldwide. Baltic Sotheby’s International listings are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the firm’s agents and clients benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty® marketing programs.

Turks and Caicos Islands Real Estate | Market Spotlight

turks and caicos real estate

With year-round sunshine, miles of pristine beach and crystal clear seas, the Turks and Caicos Islands are a growing Caribbean destination for North America and Europe. The Islands boast a small, but vibrant open economy that depends largely on tourism and the offshore finance industry.  As a British Crown Colony, TCI is politically and socially stable making opportunity for investment strong. “The second quarter of 2012 continues to build off the momentum of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, with all trends continuing upward,” explains Joe Zahm, President and Broker of  Turks & Caicos Sotheby’s International Realty.

“In addition to this encouraging market news, institutional and private equity is finding its way back to the Turks and Caicos Islands. While prices have mostly bottomed out, and we are even seeing some value increases with select inventory, there remain some excellent values for purchasers who feel they have missed out on the price bottom. Summer sales activity and pending business remains strong in all sectors and we anticipate continued market growth through the next quarter,” says Zahm.  Read the entire market report here. View Turks and Caicos Islands Real Estate on sothebysrealty.com.