You’ve probably never heard of Snedens Landing, New York, even if you live in the state. You have certainly heard of some of its current and former residents: Bill Murray, Angelina Jolie, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Björk, Al Pacino and Scarlett Johansson among them. Twelve miles north of the George Washington Bridge, Snedens Landing is a neighborhood of just a hundred houses in the hamlet of Orangetown. This area is also called palisades.
This house alone, on half an acre of land, built some time before the Revolutionary War and known as the Ding Dong House, was home to Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman (in the late 90’s) , Jerome Robbins and Margot Kidder. . It is now on the market, along with all of its 18th and 19th century antiques, furnishings and a Hudson River School art collection, for $6.5 million through Richard Ellis at Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty.
At just over 3,200 square feet, the home is fairly modest in size, with three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in personality, not to mention fantastic views of the Hudson.
The Ding Dong House was originally built by John Sneden, whose family ran the ferry across the Hudson to Westchester County. They lived there for almost 200 years. At some point, the house became the region’s first library. It was surmounted by an enormous bell: hence the name. Nobody knows what happened to this bell, unfortunately.
Later, in the 19th century, sculptors Mary Lawrence Tonetti and Francois Tonetti purchased several properties in Snedens Landing, creating a sort of colony of artists and actors with big names like Laurence Olivier and Ethel Barrymore. (Despite its star power, Woody Allen called the city boring in his movie “Manhattan”!)
Originally a vernacular Dutch farmhouse, the former Sneden/Kidder/Robbins/Hawke/Thurman House was built around the 1750s and expanded around the 1850s. A complete $2.5 million restoration over the course of five years includes a new slate roof, a sophisticated security system and additional repairs in keeping with the old house. There are three living areas, three en-suite bedrooms, four working fireplaces and a magnificent porch overlooking the river. The courtyard, with its swimming pool and outdoor kitchen, is planted with manicured and wild gardens, and includes several entertaining areas and gazebos, an outdoor shower and massive stone walls and steps. There is no bell but the legend of the Ding Dong house is still alive.
All this, close to the city, but on the edge of the river and surrounded by a park with hiking trails? And hardly anyone even knows it exists? No wonder the rich and famous have always flocked very quietly to Snedens Landing.