A Hudson perch

Photographs by Bob Rozycki and Tim Lee

Some homes are attractive simply for their physical attributes.

Others seem special because of the way they have been so thoroughly enjoyed by those who live there.

Hudson View in the Scarborough area of Briarcliff Manor is one home where these two elements blend in a wonderfully stylish mix.

A step through the front door might elicit a gasp, as floor-to-ceiling windows in the two-story circular gallery offer glorious views of the 2.18-acre property’s gently sloping grounds. Beyond, it all seemingly melts into the Hudson River, sparkling in the distance.

But for every mention of how the chef-designed kitchen came together or the choosing of the lush blue that adds such flair to the formal dining room, there’s talk of relatives gathering for a family celebration, of guests staying overnight – and perhaps most memorably, a three-day millennium party that featured musicians playing on a balcony above the revelers, full dance performances and even fireworks.

Yes, the home the Lewis family playfully calls The Aerie, has been the witness of lives well lived.

“This was a great house for entertaining when I was working on The Street,” says Sambo – or more formally, Meriwether Fielding Lewis.

The family – Sambo, his wife, Megan, and their 20-year-old son, Fielding – now finds itself spending more time at its other residences, or traveling.

“It’s been a great house, a lot of emotion and sweat and tears,” he says with a laugh, recalling the two-year construction of the five-bedroom, four-bath home that graciously fills 8,000 square feet.

From the ground up

The search for a great house began in the mid-1990s when the Lewis family was set to return to America after nearly a decade living in England.

The couple, through connections at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club, heard of a property on the club grounds that was for sale. It then featured a little cabin, “the worst of the ’60s architecture,” Sambo says.

The Lewises had no interest in the structure, but saw great potential in the property – though no one else seemed to.

“We thought someone would snap it up immediately,” Megan says.

Instead, they were able to proceed with the sale and tapped emerging local architect Rad Opacic for the project. Megan, though, was very involved in the design – and had some clear ideas for the home, built in 1998.

Many of the elements – the stucco, the slate roof and even a secret room –were inspired by England.

Yes, a secret room. A panel yields a doorway and a few steps down finds you in a jewel box of a library/study.

“All these doors make panels so you’re not aware they’re here,” Sambo says, giving a glimpse into a hidden wet bar, as well.

“I love secret places,” Megan says.

And that is just one treasure in a home filled with so many, from a pergola-lined patio to four fireplaces (at least one features stones salvaged from the grounds); from countless walls of glass to vaulted and cathedral ceilings; from a skylit master suite to a sprawling garden-level floor complete with exercise room, guest/nanny facilities and wine room.

The main floor is spacious, but welcoming. There is a tasteful scale that allows expansive living while maintaining warmth and intimacy.

“The rooms are scaled,” Megan says. “You never feel (the house) is too big.”

The formal dining room is a blue-hued retreat, one stylish departure from the airy feel elsewhere.

“We like this because we close these,” she says, motioning to curtains. “Back in your smoking days….” she says to Sambo, who confirms it was a lovely cigar room so many years ago.

A butler’s pantry lies off a chef-designed kitchen that features luxury appliances, an island with high seats and an eat-in area.

“The kitchen is, as usually is the case, where you hang out a lot,” Sambo says.

It flows right into the casual family room where the television is artfully hidden behind more panels.

“We try to hide everything,” Sambo says. “It’s nice not to be confronted with stuff.”

It all came together

“We had not been dreaming of building a house at all,” Megan says. “We built a house, because we couldn’t find a house we loved.”

The home even got a local award the year after it was built, honoring architect Opacic, who is now based in Irvington.

“This was by far the most ambitious project he’d taken on at the time,” Megan says.

She had very clear ideas of what she wanted, including the unusual glass-topped cabinets in the kitchen. Megan, a onetime political speechwriter, is now returning to design, an early love.

From the spacious bedrooms to the countless window seats and fireplaces, from a full bar room to a recreation room, the home lends itself to entertaining indoors and out. An elegant living/music room is complete with piano and ample seating.

“The flow of people in the house when you have a party is really lovely,” Megan affirms.

And even when the family would spend time at home alone, such features as a pond and a manmade waterfall added to the restful air.

“It’s lovely to listen to at nighttime,” Megan says, before adding “but people who are light sleepers or don’t like it, you just turn it off.”

In the neighborhood

While Sambo took full advantage of the golfing at the adjacent country club, along with its other amenities, Megan was more interested in riding at its Sleepy Hollow Riding Academy.

“You can get on your horse and cross the road and go for hours,” Megan says of the nearby trails.

Sambo has now started his own business in Manhattan, still in the financial industry after years on Wall Street.

An attraction of the haven on the hill has always been the easy access to the city, “41 minutes by train” as Sambo says.

Returning home always signaled something good.

“Coming back you’re here, and you could be a million miles away from Manhattan,” he says.

And now, the Lewis family prepares to move farther afield.

As Sambo says, “We hate to leave – but it’s time.”

HUDSON VIEW AT A GLANCE
• Briarcliff Manor
• 8,000 square feet
•  2.18 acres
• Bedrooms: 5
• Baths: 4 full, 2 half
• Amenities: Alarm system, balcony, full bar plus wet bar, chef-designed kitchen, cul-de-sac, three-level decks with multiple access points, eat-in kitchen, exercise room, four fireplaces, game room, privacy, pond, powder rooms, sprinkler system lawn, vaulted/cathedral ceilings, walkout basement, water views.
• Price: $3.95 million

For more information, contact Madelyn Ricciardi at Houlihan Lawrence at (914) 762-7200, ext. 311, at (914) 391-2288 or mricciardi@houlihanlawrence.com.

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