Verdant farmland and hillsides dotted by historic bridges, country inns, golf courses, equestrian trails and legacy mansions left behind by the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Astors and Vanderlips paint a romantic if not poetic picture of life in New York’s Hudson Valley. The craggy peaks of the Palisades dip into cascading valleys where lush forests and the sparkle of the Hudson River serve as palette for living art.
It was this bucolic setting in Westchester County that inspired Megan and Meriwether “Sambo” Lewis to settle in the Scarborough area of Briarcliff Manor after nearly a decade living in England. Thanks to connections at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club, the couple heard that a 2.1-acre property within the club’s gated grounds was for sale. They saw great potential in the land. The privacy and sweeping scale of its geography — which overlooked beautiful parkland and the river — would make a perfect family home. Its dreamlike treetop setting gave the family inspiration for the home’s namesake, “The Aerie.”
“Between the bowl of trees below the house, there is this wonderful aviary playground and breeding space,” describes Sambo. “We have often witnessed birds chasing off predatory species, bird fights, swifts playing in the drafts and hawks nesting in nearby treetops.”
They enlisted local architect Rad Opacic to help them design their pastoral dream. Opacic envisioned a five-bedroom English manor sited to maximize the views. Working closely with Opacic, Megan endeavored to create a home that was simultaneously elegant yet relaxed, “with all the amenities for gracious, active living,” she says. They developed a layout that was “easy and comfortable” and made the most of the home’s heightened position.
You immediately sense their reverence for their surroundings when you enter the front door. A limestone-tiled foyer leads you through archways to a two-story circular gallery with floor-to-ceiling windows, framing the property’s gently sloping grounds and, in the distance, the glistening river. Most rooms have French doors leading to mahogany decks, balconies and patio spaces — all capturing glimpses of the colorful gardens and lush woods below.
Even the kitchen, with its raised granite eat-in bar and cherrywood see-through cabinets, was designed with natural light and an outdoor connection in mind. Other light-filled public spaces feel voluminous yet warm with soaring ceilings and grand fireplaces, creating an ideal backdrop for entertaining. The fireplaces throughout the house — four in all — provide the family with both warmth and visual delight during social gatherings.
“The relationship of the family room fireplace to the living room fireplace is really special,” says Megan. “When they are lit, you can see both while standing in either room or on the deck.”
Up the dramatic circular staircase, there is an exquisite third-floor en suite bedroom, which the Lewises use as a private, quiet getaway for their frequent guests, who enjoy the glass doors opening up to the balcony and dramatic views of the Palisades and the river.
A 1,900-square-foot finished lower level was another brilliant addition. Featuring a separate entrance, this unique space offers privacy and flexibility for out-of-town guests — or may even doubles as an in-law suite or nanny/au pair apartment. An entertainment room, complete with a full bar, wine cellar, fitness area and patio areas, is also ideal for hosting small and large groups.
“In the winter, we’d come out with hot toddies, cocoa and liqueurs from the bar, and we’d sit in our deck chairs around the roaring fire,” remembers Megan. “It was just the place to warm up and have a snack for hungry guests. And, of course, this was also a summer long afternoon and evening meeting place.”
Beyond the thoughtful room appointments, Megan and Opacic sought to create an atmosphere of timeless elegance by applying an extraordinary amount detail to the interiors — expressed in the craftsmanship, artistry and meticulous selection of materials. England once again served as style inspiration, reflected in the stucco work, slate roof and secret nooks and crannies, like the concealed wet bar and the hidden passageway from the living room to the library/study. The design earned the 2002 AIA Design Award for the Westchester and Hudson Valley Chapter — one of many treasures that will be passed on to the next homeowner as the Lewis family prepares to sell the home.
As listing agent Daniel Bucci of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage concludes, “This is Hudson Valley living at its finest: blissfully private, refined and comfortable. It is located just two miles from the Scarborough-on-Hudson Metro North station and only 45 minutes from New York City, making it a great primary residence, seasonal retreat or weekend refuge.”
156 Tower Hill Road
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510
5,605 square feet
Represented by: Daniel Bucci
Associate Real Estate Broker
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Article by Alyson Pitarre; This story originally appeared in the fall 2017 issue of Homes & Estates magazine.