Historic riverfront property presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for its next owner. The Thomas McLean house, built circa 1795, has a rich history and was featured in the book ”A Simpler Way of Life” as well as the movie ”The Horse Whisperer” starring Robert Redford and Scarlett Johansson. This magical home and grounds, is located across the road from Susan B. Anthony’s childhood home in the quaint hamlet of Battenville. Susan, historically played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement. There is a magical feel as you walk through the deeply grooved trunks of the centuries-old black locust trees and take in the incredible 180 degree views of the 200+ feet of Battenkill River frontage. The Battenkill happens to be a world-famous trout stream providing a constant respite. The home was built in 3 distinct sections:
- The circa 1795 original federal structure has a center hall and two flanking parlors, which are built on the single pile, or one room deep plan.
- In 1800, the salt-box style kitchen was added. In 1830, the kitchen was “grecified” or made over to be in the Greek Revival style that was popular at the time with the addition of the four column porch.
- A final north wing was added around 1867 and may have functioned as a woodshed with a summer kitchen.
An unprecedented number of historic details remain in the house, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. One of the most significant is the late Georgian front door, made in the Dutch-style with a semi-circular fanlight and Gothic sash. There are four fireplaces with original mantels, two are Federal style and two are Georgian. You will find original doors with Norfolk hinges, unsanded wide plank floors with original wear, and original plaster and lathe horse-hair walls. The original exterior features include the cornice, siding and trim and the 12 over 12 and 12 over 8 window sashes.
In 1997, the property was used as a location in the film “The Horse Whisperer,” directed by and starring Robert Redford. The supporting cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Sam Neill. The opening scenes of the film show Scarlett Johansson’s character waking up on a snowy morning in the primary bedroom upstairs with the fireplace in the background. She looks out through the historic windows at the barn. The scene continues as she moves through the house gathering her gear to go riding in the new fallen snow. It culminates in her exiting through the kitchen door onto the porch and pans to a wider view of the house and grounds. Later, we see the interior of the house one more time as Sam Neill’s character receives a phone call in his bedroom. “The Horse Whisperer” filmed throughout Washington and Saratoga Counties that Spring, receiving much fanfare and press.
The owners for the last 50 years have been artists Robert Nunnelly and Gerald Coble. They purchased the home in 1971 as a reprieve from NY City. Bob and Gerald desired a quieter life in beautiful Washington County and enjoyed one of the most breath-taking views of the Battenkill River. Rather than owners, they looked upon their roles as stewards and caretakers of this unique property which contributed to rare historical preservation of the house. Before purchasing, the property had sat abandoned and in a state of decay for many years. They began to work stripping back layers of linoleum and wallpaper to eventually reveal the house’s authentic self. The artists acquired several other nearby buildings including the Stoop’s Tavern, which Bob used for his art studio and post-show gatherings. Many of their paintings, drawings, and collages are in private collections in the United States and Europe and Gerald has work that is represented in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
This is truly a very special property – the type of property that doesn’t become available often. It is centrally located:
- 30 minutes to Saratoga Springs (famous for springs and horse racing)
- 55 minutes to the Albany International Airport
- 3.5 hours to New York City
- 3.5 hours to Montreal, Canada
- within 1.5 hours to several major ski mountains in Vermont including: Killington, Okemo and Stratton
Updated on March 20, 2023 at 5:23 pm