A historic Bernardsville estate rescued from dereliction and restored to grandeur has finally sold after 12 years on and off the market for $6.1 million — nearly $13 million less than the original asking price, according to its Trulia.com listing.
The 7-bedroom stone mansion on 15 acres was built in the 1890s as the summer home for Robert Livingston Stevens, the scion of the steamboat- and steam-engine innovating family and founders of the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. It was passed down through the family — for a time, Millicent Fenwick, the future Congresswoman known for her liberal leanings and trademark pipe, lived there — and eventually came under the stewardship of the Stevens Institute.
When Natale Conti, the grandson of an immigrant Italian stone mason who built his own construction company into an international powerhouse, purchased the estate in the 1990s, it was overgrown and falling apart. Records show he bought the estate and the 48 acres surrounding it for $4.6 million, and subdivided and resold the bulk of the estate.
In an interview with The Star-Ledger in 2015, he said he spent more than $25 million restoring the home and its surrounding 15 acres and called the then-$8.9 million price tag “a bargain.”
Working with Warren architect Jeffrey Beer, Conti and and his wife Linda updated the home and added a new wing, including a huge kitchen that mixes Old World-style cabinetry with stainless steel, a “hobby” kitchen, and a family room with a lodge-style beamed ceiling and massive stone fireplace. The lower level features a cobblestoned Parisian-style arcade, with a variety of entertaining rooms — one resembles a wine store, another a cafe with leather-tufted booths, and a theater with a full-size snack counter outside.
The home also features a billiards room, a game room, a stone-walled conservatory, and a master bedroom with a domed oak tongue-and-groove ceiling. The grounds include formal gardens, a reflecting pool and a swimming pool with center fountain.
Property taxes for 2016 were $126,198, according to state records.