New York Post
Mill it over
By TINA TRASTER
Last Updated: 10:38 PM, May 25, 2011
Posted: 9:27 PM, May 25, 2011
The Village of Millbrook and its surroundings in the town of Washington, about 90 miles north of New York City in pastoral Dutchess County, is a study in contrasts. Its population is a mix of celebrities like Bette Midler, Liam Neeson and Frederic Fekkai weekending on multi-acre horse farms and ordinary folks raising families. Franklin Avenue, the main street, includes pricey restaurants serving organic beef as well as a diner where you can get a more traditional burger. Pop into the drugstore for something kitschy and cheap or cough up $200 for a tiny pewter cat at a chichi design store.
Zach Hampton, who owns Millbrook’s only grocery store, Marona’s Market, puts it this way: “We sell Cheez Whiz and $20-per-pound artisanal cheese from local producers, the Amazing Real Life Food Co.”
If you’re shopping for a country home less than two hours from the city, you can find options from $180,000 for a small village house to $27 million for a country manor with a pool, spa, tennis court, sporting range, ice rink, motocross track, indoor basketball court and movie theater.
Robert Morini, a broker with Houlihan Lawrence, says 30 percent of Millbrook’s homeowners are weekenders. More than half of the 60 houses for sale at present have an asking price above $800,000.
“There aren’t too many places so close to the city where you can buy a substantial horse farm with indoor riding facilities, horse barns and pastures on 15 to 200 acres,” Morini says.
Full-timers and second homeowners alike are drawn to Millbrook’s picture-perfect small-town ambiance. The 1.9-square-mile village is a place where city folks can ride horses, compete in equestrian events, join the Mashomack Polo Club, chop wood or shoot sporting clays at the Orvis Sandanona Shooting Grounds.
Good entertainment is within a 30-mile radius at the Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie, the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College and the Sharon Playhouse in Sharon, Conn. The Merritt bookstore, local wineries, a fishmonger and high-end design shops keep city visitors in their comfort zone. But Millbrook is a world away from NYC.
“Millbrook is the embodiment of town and country,” says Kim Lane, a broker with H.W. Gurnsey Real Estate. “People who come up here don’t need to be seen. It’s different than high-profile towns like the Hamptons or Rhinebeck.”
Jill Cohen and her husband bought a 1790 five-bedroom clapboard farmhouse on 10 acres last August. The Upper East Side couple, who have a 6-year-old son, get to downshift when they spend weekends in Millbrook.
“I feel totally at peace up here,” Cohen says, “I feel more expansive.”
The stay-at-home mom says she spends time in Millbrook writing. Her son and husband like to walk by the stream on their property. The family pokes around at local farm markets and prepares impromptu feasts for friends.
“We bought a house in Millbrook because we wanted a place where getting away really meant getting away,” Cohen says.