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Location: Brookneal, Virginia
The Skinny: Staunton Hill, an 1848 Gothic Revival estate in Brookneal, Virginia, has been put on the market for $5,495,000. The main house was designed by architect John Evan Johnson, with a crenellated and turreted front facade, walls of stuccoed brick, and granite steps. Built for $75,000 by one-time Virginia state senator Charles Bruce, it has fourteen rooms, including two drawing rooms, an entryway with an original horseshoe staircase, and a library with with windows of leaded stained-glass. Bruce acquired the land in a family partitioning after the death of his father, James Bruce; when Charles' died, in 1896, his holdings included 5,025 surrounding acres. The Sotheby's listing shows Staunton Hill now offered with 273.
Behind the 15,650-square-foot main residence is a six-room colonnade and a conservatory. Beyond the surrounding gardens there's a woodhouse and a brick office, either of which may be included in the four guest homes the listing notes. The grounds are encircled by a low brick wall said to be between a mile and a half and two miles long.
Between 1924 and 1933, the estate passed through the hands of several different owners, serving as a country club and hunting lodge, before it was purchased and restored by Charles' grandson David K.E. Bruce, who was the U.S. ambassador to France, and helped with the implementation of the Marshall Plan and the organization of what is now the CIA, and later became the first U.S. liaison officer to China and a NATO ambassador. David sold Staunton Hill to his children for $100K, at a fraction of its actual value. In 1975, his daughter Sasha was found suffering from a gunshot wound at the estate, and died two days later, an event that gained some notoriety because, though it was ruled a suicide, many believed her husband, Greek businessman Marios Michaelides, to be her killer.
One of David K Bruce's sons, a trade consultant named David S. Bruce, later lived at the estate, and added in the colonnade, along with some "oversized, luxurious marble bathrooms patterned after the Ritz Hotel in Paris." The listing also makes mention of a Gothic Revival pool house, and a "conference center with community kitchen and dining facilities, indoor racquetball court, tennis court, and pool."
· Staunton Hill [TTR Sotheby's]