Presented by Houlihan Lawrence
Photographs by Bob Rozycki and Tim Lee
It’s not every property that offers the most modern of amenities in decidedly vintage surroundings.
But having just that is a big part of the allure of a 1905 estate nestled into the serene Ardsley Park enclave of Irvington.
So often, those intent on modernizing simply wipe away history in a grand sweep to install all that’s bright and new.
It’s lucky for those with an appreciation of the charms of the past that John Esposito, his wife, Dawn, and their family have called 3 Clifton home since 2006.
For this family went to great lengths to update their six-bedroom, six-bath home in a way that not only created a haven of understated luxurious living but preserved the artistry of an earlier era, allowing it to shine once again.
Reviving the Italian Renaissance splendor has created an enduring masterpiece complete with standout features that include a terraced entry, a covered loggia, a handcrafted staircase anchoring the grand foyer and seven fireplaces that add warmth and charm throughout the more than 6,100 square feet of living space.
NEAR AND FAR
For commuters to Manhattan such as Esposito and his wife, the home offers unparalleled convenience. It’s both a five-minute walk to the Ardsley-on-Hudson station and, Esposito says, a 35-minute drive into Manhattan.
Esposito is a founder of Truman’s Gentlemen’s Groomers, which offers salon and spa services (haircuts, shaves, shoe shines, massages and skin treatments) at two city locations. The company, he shares, has recently launched its own product line. Dawn, he adds, also commutes to midtown for her job in asset management.
It was back in 2005 when the couple found themselves looking to move out of the Upper East Side and ended up in the village where Dawn was raised.
“I grew up in Jersey. I lost the battle, ” Esposito says with a laugh before confirming he’s comfortably at home in Irvington and appreciates the charms of a community where privacy is respected and success lives a quiet lifestyle.
In 3 Clifton, the family found a home that fit both its needs and its preferences.
“I grew up in old houses, so I love old houses,” Esposito says, with this home in particular long admired.
“Dawn used to run by this house,” Esposito says. “It was kind of one of her dream houses.”
And becoming its owners did not disappoint. The home, Esposito says, has solidity – constructed of concrete, with an evocative stucco exterior and terra-cotta tiled roof – that cannot be replicated today.
“The big problem at the time was all the summer estates were burning down,” Esposito says of a turn-of-the-last century local issue. “By the time the fire department could find the house, the estate was gone.”
But that would not happen at 3 Clifton. Featuring reinforced concrete in both the walls and under the floors, the home was built for a retired stockbroker determined to avoid such a fate.
As Esposito says, “His big claim to fame (was) he wasn’t going to take out fire insurance.”
Though a century old, 3 Clifton was in good shape when Esposito moved his family in. There was, though, a desire to make updates and upgrades.
Looking back now, Esposito says: “We’ve done a lot.”
All was done, Esposito says, with the intent of living here for a very long time – not as a return on an investment. Much of the work was “behind-the-scenes,” including the installation of geothermal heating and cooling (highly efficient and environmentally friendly), in-floor radiant heating and a modern rewiring made tricky due to all that concrete.
Other work ranged from elaborate (a total kitchen revamp) to the most routine, such as landscaping and wood refurbishing.
“Even the new doors that we put in we did to match the old doors,” Esposito says. “It was important to us to maintain the integrity of the house and the feel of the house.”
The family’s approach can best be illustrated by the front terrace’s balusters. With each having been originally hand-done, there were the slightest variations in size which became problematic when it was time to make repairs.
“We could have taken an easy way,” Esposito says, using modern replacements. Instead, artisans did the work one by one.
A MINI TOUR
Clearly, it was all worth it – and despite its understated grandeur, 3 Clifton remains an accessible, appealing family home.
“The kids, we don’t restrict them,” Esposito says. “They have full rein of the house.”
And there is a lot of house, even though it never overwhelms.
“It’s a big home, but it’s not a ton of rooms,” says Esposito. “It’s got all the space you could possibly want.”
The hallways are indeed wide. Atop the grand staircase is a long gallery-style hall with bedrooms branching off.
“The proportions of the house are something I like, too,” he says.
High ceilings and a seemingly endless collection of French doors provide light and a certain lightness throughout.
Pairings of modern and classic throughout the home create a playful, artistic sensibility.
A pair of foyer chairs, all curves and lush upholstery, evoke an earlier era, yet they’re steps away from others with a more geometric feel.
“You look in the bar room, and it’s a little more modern,” Esposito says of the eclectic approach. “It’s always mixing it up.”
That bar room is a gem, a tiny space in a soothing blue where a full bar from France holds court. Complete with zinc sink and porcelain taps, it holds a special meaning – it was their wedding gift to each other.
“We bought each other a bar,” Esposito says, noting it has traveled with them from Gramercy Park to the Upper East Side to Irvington.
But it just might stay, should the next homeowner be equally captivated by it, given how ideally it fits the space.
“There’s sentimental value, but I think this will be negotiable,” Esposito says.
One thing not moving is the formal living room’s showpiece, a massive stone mantel original to the house.
“We’re not selling it, because we feel it’s a part of history,” Esposito says, noting he has had at least one offer to sell the piece that makes the room – an elegant space where a Marlon Brando print by Russell Young adds a glamorous accent.
Across the foyer, wooden beams anchor the formal dining room, which has seen many a large gathering.
This floor’s major project was a modernization of the kitchen, literally re-orienting it from one side of the home to the other and now also flowing into a family room.
Today, the space is a sophisticated showcase of granite counters, walnut cabinetry, Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances and an expansive butler’s pantry. The family can gather for meals at an island/table. Adjacent is a mudroom, a convenience especially helpful with children.
On the second floor, the master suite is, again, a study in understated elegance.
“What I love about this bedroom is it has three sides of windows,” Esposito says.
It also has a fireplace and an adjacent sitting room with its own fireplace, each with access to the stone loggia.
“You get the breezes off the river,” Esposito says, pointing to the inviting lounge chairs. “I do a lot of reading out here.”
Back inside, ample walk-in closets and twin baths complete the surroundings.
The other bedrooms are also spacious, with his older daughter’s a generous and classically appointed charmer.
“She’s got a nicer bedroom than most adults,” Esposito agrees, though his son’s built-ins also earn raves.
The basement level is vast, complete with one of the home’s two laundry rooms, a pingpong table, a wine cellar and a mirrored gym.
“My wife is a cross-country runner, and I played lacrosse at Georgetown, so we’re a relatively athletic family,” Esposito says.
Connected to the workout space is an elaborate steam shower, which Esposito says is “probably overkill, but it works.”
Natural light flows through a trio of high windows and makes the floor’s office anything but workmanlike.
And not to be neglected, the top floor – ripe for reinvention for countless uses – currently houses a cavernous playroom and guest/nanny suite.
“This is basically a kids’ playroom that eventually was going to become an adult playroom,” Esposito says.
The interior of 3 Clifton is impressive, and its surroundings only add to the appeal.
“We love the exterior,” Esposito says of the land featuring century-old trees, formal English gardens and various shrubs and perennials.
Sitting on just under an acre, the home is further enhanced by its outdoor amenities.
“We did a lot of work in the garden,” Esposito says.
A patio was also created off the kitchen, though it seems to have been there forever.
A grill area, Esposito says, was a straightforward project.
“We didn’t put in a full outdoor kitchen because it’s right next to our kitchen.”
Around the side, a porch off the formal living room offers further opportunity to savor the property and lends itself to large-scale entertaining.
“We’ve had bands on this porch,” Esposito says. “We’ve had 155 people here for a party.”
Amenities even extend to the separate, two-car garage that echoes the design of the house and is also heated.
“One of the previous owners was a Ferrari dealer and he kept them in there – and he kept them heated,” Esposito says.
As Esposito says, the family did all the work on 3 Clifton intending for it to be a longtime home.
That plan changed when another long-admired village property became available to them and they made the purchase.
“We weren’t looking,” Esposito says. “We weren’t planning on moving. We loved this house.”
Now, with a larger – and also historic – dream house nearing completion of major renovations, the family will soon make a move.
But no doubt, those who next call 3 Clifton home will be long grateful to the thoughtful work completed by the Esposito family.
3 CLIFTON at a Glance
• 6,137 square feet
• 0.98 acres
• Bedrooms: 6
• Baths: 6 full, 2 half
• Amenities: Geothermal HVAC, walk to train, exercise room, seven fireplaces, high ceilings, walk-in closets, walk-out basement, balcony, privacy, library.
• Price: $3.95 million
For more information, contact Josephine O’Leary-Weir at Houlihan Lawrence at (914) 393-0563 or firstname.lastname@example.org.