One of the best-known homes in Rockland County, NY located about 20 minutes from where we live, is called Pretty Penny, aptly named in 1932 by its then new owner, Helen Hayes and her husband, playwright Charles MacArthur.
As the new owners, Hayes and her husband entertained celebrities such as Ronald Reagan, Marilyn Monroe, Rosalind Russell, Ed Sullivan, Cole Porter, F.Scott Fitzgerald, John Barrymore, Laurence Olivier, Katherine Hepburn, Noel Coward, and Vivien Leigh. If that’s not enough name dropping for you, there is a now famous painting of the house by Edward Hopper and some famous personalities who have expressed interest in the property have been the Clintons and Ben Stiller, and Russell Crowe rented the house for six months while filming “American Gangster” in 2006.
In 1996, three years after Hayes’ death, Rosie O’Donnell purchased the house. Although it had been listed for $1.9 million, O’Donnell got it for $770,000. Apparently the beautiful home had fallen into disrepair and was in need of extensive renovations, which Rosie undertook, spending more than $2 million, and in 2000, she sold Pretty Penny for $2.25 million to Edward and Cindy Kopko. (If you do the math, she suffered a financial loss on the house.)
Pretty Penny once again found itself up for sale in 2005 when it was purchased by art dealer W. Graham Arader III, and he now has it on the market for $4.9 million.
Let’s start our tour with the kitchen, which has a modern yet classic cottage feel with high-end stainless steel appliances, a classic black and white tile floor, and loads of wainscoting.
Take a good look at the crown moulding in the dining room. Stunning!
Here’s what you would see from the bed in the master. The current master suite also has a fireplace, large walk-in closet and a renovated bathroom that dates to O’Donnell. There are two more bedrooms on this level, each with its own bathroom and marble fireplace. In all, the 7000′ sq ft house has eight fireplaces and five full and three half-baths.
Notice the detail on the vanity drawers? Although you can’t see it in this picture, I think the tub looks out onto the Hudson River.
The bar, located in the basement, was taken from a theatre that was being demolished on Broadway. That’s what I call recycling at its best.
The room behind these beautiful stained glass panels is where Hayes’ was known to fill numerous vases with the beautiful roses from her famous garden.
It’s all about the views, isn’t it?!
Hayes and MacArthur invested $100,000 in Pretty Penny after they bought it in 1932. A lot of money even today, but at the height of the Depression it was a ‘Pretty Penny’.
Hayes and her husband had two children; a son, the actor James MacArthur (“Danno” in television’s original “Hawaii Five-O”), who grew up in the house along with his sister, Mary, who died of polio at 19.
In 1956 MacArthur passed away at the age of 61. Hayes, who lived in the house for more than 60 years, wrote in her memoir, “My Life in Three Acts,” that he drank himself to death after his beloved daughter died.
What did you think of this house? From the outside, is the inside what you expected?
For an interesting ‘Virtual Tour’ of the home and property, click here.
Photo Credit: Tania Savayan/The Journal News