The Inspiration

In 2023 during an interview with the designer of the property, Philippe de Givenchy provided several fascinating insights on the construction of the house that he named La Gentilhommière, which literally translated into English would be “country manor belonging to a gentleman of nobility.” The inspiration for the construction of the house came from the Château de Givenchy le-Noble, his family’s ancestral home. The Pierre de Bourgognestone that was used for the facing of the main part of the house came from the same quarry used for the replacement of the stone floors in his late uncle’s estate, Château du Jonchet. Philippe shared the plans of
La Gentilhommière with his uncle, Hubert de Givenchy, such that the person who dressed Audrey Hepburn had a hand in the design of the house.


History of the Property

Originally this property was part of Overbrook Farm, Frank Altschul’s 450 acre estate that was acquired by him in the 1920s. By that time Altschul had become the head of the American branch of Lazard Frères, spoke French fluently, and was an ardent bibliophile, building his own printing press on the property.  The 3.5 acre lot was bought in 1999 by Gaël de Pierrebourg from Chuck Scarborough, who had acquired what was left of the Altschul estate the year before. Originally there were three garages with domestic servants’ quarters above, as well as a gas pump. Gaël asked his childhood friend, Philippe de Givenchy, to plan the construction of a country manor house for which the majority of the materials were to be imported from France.


The Execution

Everything from the limestone Pierre de Bourgogne facing, to the shutters, windows, gutters, floors, mantle pieces and doors were imported from France, including the solid hand made brass Rémy Garnier fixtures, the crémones and the espagnolettes. At the owner’s expense, workers were flown from France to hang the solid French oak doors, place the fixtures and lay the walnut 18th century parquet de Versailles floors taken from a French manor of that era, as well as the tiles in the entrance foyer. At the same time no expense was spared to add all the amenities of a modern constructed house with a radiant heated floor in the kitchen, central air conditioning, La Cornue Château Grand Palais electric and gas range, broadband cable connections, and speakers in the ceilings of every room. Although the crémones for the windows and door fixtures were all made by Rémy Garnier, the hand-forged espagnolettes for the French oak shutters were found in an antique shop in France and custom reforged for the appropriate length of each shutter, with the result that no two are alike.


The Finishes

When purchased in 2006 by the present owners, the structure was completed, but it had never been lived in. The walls were basic white. The only fixture was the chandelier in the foyer. The transformation began by replacing the existing kitchen with a Smallbone designed kitchen, leaving in place the solid limestone sink as well as the La Cornue Château Grand Palais range. The current owners then designed the library, after which they focused their attention on creating an art studio/apartment above the garage. To do so, a portion of the roof was removed and replaced with an arched coffered extension to which was added a custom-made Juliette balcony. Plumbing, radiant-heated floors and a full bathroom were added with central air conditioning.  Next came the building of the pool house, pool and outdoor kitchen. The project required a major excavation of the hillside behind the garage extending into solid ledge, as well as the installation of a drainage system, necessitating the placement of wells and a concrete underground culvert. The design of the pool house was modified from a planned stone structure to a more contemporary stucco design to give it a Mediterranean feel.  A full bathroom with a rainshower was included, along with a gas fireplace and a full surround sound theatre to showcase films.  A covered gazebo was added with an outdoor BBQ and stove to complement the indoor kitchen with wine cellar, Subzero refrigerator, dish washer and double sink.  The landscaping was designed by James Doyle and the pool was built by Shoreline Pools.  The last project was a Japanese-themed shade garden. A significant investment in specimen trees, as well as stone walls and garden extensions make this property unlike no other, an opportunity to acquire a once-in-a-lifetime country manor residence.


Notable Details

  • Faïence Ponchon tiles above the counter tops.
  • Parquet de Versailles flooring.
  • Unique Pierre de Bourgogne limestone facing makes the exterior of the house reverberate with light. ☐

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