Once a playground for dignitaries and royalty, the famed Cragwood Estate enjoys privacy and pedigree.
First Lady Jacquelyn Kennedy riding horses on the property. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor celebrating the annual “Royal Weekend” as guests in the home. Stories of gold Kruggerands being doled out as party favors during elaborate galas.
Cragwood Estate in Far Hills, New Jersey, has both an inimitable pedigree and a storied and fascinating history, having once been owned by precious-metal magnate Charles Engelhard and his socialite wife, Jane. The couple was renowned for their lavish parties and for the dignitaries and heads of state, including Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, who visited.
Today’s soirees might not be quite as posh, but the 112-acre Georgian revival mansion certainly is. Crafted to exacting standards circa 1923 and lovingly restored and modernized by its current owners, the home features three levels of beautifully designed living space. In all, there are 24 rooms, including nine bedrooms, a professional home theater and a climate-controlled, 3,000-bottle wine cellar with a tasting room, plus an elevator and three terraces to take in the rare views of Ravine Lake and the distant hills.
“Iconic Cragwood is one of the remaining treasures of the gilded age of Somerset Hills and is available for only the fourth time in its history,” say Nan Reil and Vincenza Montrone of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, co-listing agents on the property; Cathy Franklin of The Corcoran Group is acting as real estate advisor on the listing. “This historic estate dates back to the days when Manhattan’s wealthy first discovered this area and built summer homes, later turning them into full-time residences in this exclusive enclave. There aren’t many of the original estates of the colony remaining in the Bernardsville area, and certainly none with this cachet or breathtaking lake views.”
Also rare today is the combination of acreage and privacy. The town-sized property, which contains its own preserved and working farm, is so private that many in the area don’t know it exists — a sharp contrast to the home’s early days.
“The Engelhards entertained on a grand scale,” says Reil. “The current owners are more private, which has changed the profile of the property. It’s now more of a hidden jewel in the center of this area, which is close to Manhattan, but ensconced in a very serene setting. Accessed via a long, tree-lined drive through security gates and beyond its own guardhouse,Cragwood Estate enjoys a tucked-away setting befitting royalty and visiting presidents, which is very appealing to buyers today.”
It’s not hard to imagine LBJ being served a gourmet meal in the elegant formal dining room, with its elaborate moldings, elegant fireplace and trio of picture windows. Were it prepared in the kitchen today, chefs would have access to an updated gourmet space featuring custom wood cabinetry, stainless steel counter-tops, subway tile backsplash, and two granite islands and farm sinks, with top-of-the-line appliances and an adjacent butler’s pantry.
The new kitchen was part of an extensive restoration and renovation that introduced a slate roof, copper gutters and “a new wing that added functional space, including a large family room and conservatory, without looking like an addition,” says Montrone. “It seamlessly matched the incredible detail and enduring quality of the home, and further renovations updated internal systems and added modern amenities while preserving the heritage architecture.”
Beyond and encircling the house, the grounds are nothing short of magnificent, meandering across a gorgeous expanse of wooded landscape and including a pool nestled under mature trees, a large pool house, tennis court, apple orchard and skeet shooting area, miles of walking trails, an Adirondack-style cottage, a converted carriage house with staff offices and five apartments, and attached and detached garages that can house up to 19 automobiles.
“This estate is simply extraordinary,” says Montrone. It truly has no equal. Cragwood Estate is more than a home. It’s a lifestyle.”
Far Hills, NJ
9 bedrooms, 10 full and 3 half baths
Price Upon Request
Nan Reil and Vincenza Montrone
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
By Jaymi Naciri
“This article originally appeared in the fall 2016 issue of Homes & Estates.”