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Herrick House and the Granary Art Gallery: The Former Estate of Melva Bucksbaum

Tour this exquisite Connecticut property that the globally-renowned art philanthropist and benefactor re-imagined to display her collection of modern art with a museum-quality private gallery

The 14,000-square-foot art gallery and fine art storage facility, “the Granary,” is a standout feature of this bucolic 51-acre estate in the quaint town of Sharon, Connecticut. Known as Herrick House and the Granary Art Gallery, the property is named in part for its original owners and the quiet country lane on which it is located.

Melva Bucksbaum, longtime trustee and benefactor of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, purchased the property in 2005 and finished the Granary in 2009. With exteriors of locally sourced wood and stone, the museum-quality gallery includes humidity control systems, waterless fire-suppression systems, expansive security, and automatic-timed shades, ideal for the preservation of fine art.

This country retreat is ideal for the devoted art collector and for those with extended families or guests with its multiple cottages.

There is a double-height main exhibition space, flooded with natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights. A flagstone courtyard, catering kitchen and powder room have facilitated countless private exhibitions, openings, and gala events. Upstairs are two smaller exhibition spaces. Completing the structure is an oversized glass and stainless-steel art transport elevator to accommodate large scale works of art, plus an impressive fine art storage facility with 82 storage racks for hanging paintings and storage cubes for flat art on the lower level.

Ms. Bucksbaum was a generous supporter of emerging artists throughout her life, many of whom displayed their work in the Granary and went on to achieve fame. The Bucksbaum family has also endowed a biennial award since 1996, granting US$100,000 to a deserving artist. Christie’s auctioned pieces from Ms. Bucksbaum’s collection over the course of a year in a wide range of venues, including the prestigious Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening sale in 2017.

Kathleen Coumou of Christie’s International Real Estate said: “The Granary is an absolutely stunning space to display art. It is located steps from the main residence which was built in the 1920s. While projecting a modern aesthetic, the Granary integrates seamlessly into its natural surroundings and is a powerful architectural compliment to the historic home, which is also stunning. This country retreat is ideal for the devoted art collector and for those with extended families or guests with its multiple cottages.”

Ms. Bucksbaum worked for five years with three distinguished designers—Steven Learner for the architecture, Barbara Hauben Ross for interior design, and Deborah Nevins for landscaping the lush gardens, mature specimen trees, and pear and peach orchards.

The estate, with views of the Berkshire Mountains, is introduced with a gated stone entry flanked by tall elms. The Colonial-style main residence of 9,000 square feet—with three bedrooms, six full bathrooms and one half bathroom—opens to a two-story foyer with a custom walnut staircase. This flows to the sunken living areas to include a formal dining room with three exposures and a marble fireplace, the large formal entertaining room, an intimate parlor with another marble fireplace, and a game room with chinoiserie fabric walls. All have French doors leading to a patio with gardens.

The chef’s kitchen has a butler’s pantry and a double-sided wood-burning fireplace shared with the private family room. The main level is completed by a glass-enclosed breakfast nook and paneled library with fireplace. There is also a wine cellar and safe room, plus a two-car heated garage.

Upstairs are the private quarters. The master suite is appointed with a foyer, a fireplace, a glass-enclosed office overlooking the grounds, a porch, two dressing rooms with sensor lighting, and a pampering bathroom with steam shower and soaking tub. This level also includes a second office with fireplace, a kitchenette, media room, gym, screened-in porch, and two more bedrooms and bathrooms.

The estate includes five additional buildings all connected by flagstone paths, gravel driveways, and sprawling lawns. The pool house and library are in a converted vintage barn. The lower level contains a two-story sitting room with glass doors leading to a secluded outdoor gunite pool, a changing room, kitchenette and an expansive staging area with barn doors to support large-scale entertaining and events. On the second level is the art library with a pitched ceiling and built in bookcases to house hundreds of volumes.

There is also a two-bedroom guest cottage with wraparound veranda; a fully restored original log cabin dating to 1936, which has housed many artists in residence; a three-bedroom caretaker’s residence equipped with a security office; and a large garage with four double doors, radiant heat, and an office on the second level.

Further highlights of the property include geothermal heating, a Blue Star commercial generator system (servicing all buildings on the property), a walled parking court, and lighted landscaping.

Sharon is the third-largest town in Connecticut by area, some 60 square miles, but one of the least densely populated. With its New England charm, including covered bridges over bubbling streams and a village green with a centuries-old stone clock tower, the town is renowned for its inordinate number of celebrity residents. The playwright Arthur Miller is credited for discovering the county; drawn by its rural aesthetic so close to New York City, when he bought a home for Marilyn Monroe, his then wife. Artist Jasper Johns lives in Sharon, as do actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. The town takes pride in respecting its famous neighbors’ privacy, adding further to its appeal.