A Connecticut home that is a replica of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello has been sold at auction for more than $2.1 million, far below the $7.7 million it cost to build just two years ago.
The mansion was built by S. Prestley Blake, a co-founder of the Massachusetts-based Friendly's restaurant chain and a longtime admirer of Jefferson. The 101-year-old ice cream magnate has never lived in it, but held functions inside.
The listing agent, Sherri Milkie of William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty, tells The Republican newspaper of Springfield, Massachusetts, that the 10,000-square foot home in Somers was sold Tuesday to a local doctor. She did not disclose a name. Jack Hoyt, project sales manager for Concierge Auctions of New York City, says the buyer plans to move into the home.
Blake said after the auction in remarks reported by The Hartford Courant that he was happy the new owner would occupy the home but he was surprised by the amount of the winning bid.
"I'm glad that they got it," Blake said. "But I don't see how they got it so low.
The auction was called after the house failed to sell for the original asking price of $6.5 million and it didn't get a buyer at the reduced listing of $4.9 million.
Blake, who lives a few doors down on adjacent property connected by a horse trail, said in 2014 when the house was built that he hoped it would be a source of pride for the town on the Massachusetts state line.
"This is the last thing I'll leave for posterity," he said. "I want this to be an asset to the community."
Other than a three-car garage, the house was built to mimic the original Monticello from the outside. That includes the decorative railings on the roof and the handmade bricks imported from Virginia, laid in the same Flemish bond pattern used by Jefferson.
For its construction, Blake flew his contractor, Bill Laplante, to Virginia to study the original. Laplante said he used photographs and a book with original architectural drawings to help him build the replica.