The lake house

Photographs by Bob Rozycki and Tim Lee

Actors Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy built Mystery Lake, a stunning Pound Ridge property artfully situated on a rocky outcropping, as a secluded country escape back in the 1970s.

Just one other family has called the property home, maintaining its intended use as a year-round, one-of-a-kind retreat for more than 30 years.

With the property now available to welcome its next guardian, it remains a testament to bold yet thoughtful design, incredible natural beauty and more than a few lives well-lived.

Making a recent morning visit to what for so long has been a part of his family’s history, film and television producer Mitchell Cannold talks about what the more than 20 acres of lakeside serenity have meant to his extended family since it was bought by his parents as the ’70s drew to a close.

“My father always thought of it and we’ve also thought of it, therefore, as a giant tree house,” he says.

And it’s a whimsical – if fitting – way to sum up the way of life at this home away from home.

As Cannold says, “The spirit of Mystery Lake is a family compound, a retreat, the opportunity to feel like you’re in Vermont, thoroughly removed from the city and the stresses of everyday life.”

A serene escape

That sense of adventure begins with the long drive around Mystery Lake as one glimpses then nears the main residence.

Appetite whetted, visitors have two ways to reach the intricately carved front door to the pumpkin-hued contemporary home, either the artistic and dramatic cantilevered wooden bridge or the electric tram, a most convenient amenity, especially when bringing in supplies.

Once inside, visitors are awed by the symphony of stone and sunlight and sweeping views of the lake from so many of the rooms. Mystery Lake clearly is a home to be savored in every season.

The design of the home, built on a rocky promenade, reflects, not fights with, its surroundings. A massive stone in the entryway brings nature right inside in a way that cannot be duplicated and sets the tone for life here.

It’s multilevel living, with four separate suites – a total of 10 bedrooms and six full baths in more than 5,000 square feet of living space – creating a cohesive sensibility.

A loft area, for example, is an ideal hideaway within a hideaway, while the master suite is an expansive wing complete with an office, fireplace, sitting room, bedroom and bath. Most every area has access to the series of decks that hug the main residence and take full advantage of indoor-outdoor living.

A more-than-functional kitchen features sleek countertops and a soothing sense in cream with vibrant plum accents. A simple yet elegant dining room is an adjacent space ideal for entertaining, a modern, generous-sized room as are all at Mystery Lake.

Decorative touches, from frosted-glass elements to skylights to a circular stairway to reach the loft, add sophisticated distinction throughout. Ample wall and gallery space make the home a perfect backdrop for art as well.

The family, Cannold says, did the entire house over when it was purchased by his parents, who consistently maintained and upgraded the home ever since, “both artistically and mechanically.”

The great outdoors

Enjoying the outdoors could not be easier at Mystery Lake, which itself has hosted many a boater, fisherman, swimmer and skater over the years. Access, it should be noted, is shared with just one other property.

A boathouse is nestled below the main home and features a kitchenette, bedroom, bath and sitting room for additional living or staff options.

Adding to the property’s sheer drama is a stunning swimming pool that mimics the feel of an infinity pool, here seemingly stretching out over the lake itself.

All add up to a place that’s been an anchor of family life since its creation in 1971.

And it remains, Cannold says, as captivating a natural retreat as it was when his family arrived.

“Nothing’s changed,” he notes. “It’s been protected as it was.”

Acquiring the property

Cannold says he was moving back to New York from a stint in Los Angeles, so his parents decided to lend a hand.

“My father and mother were out on a lark looking for a house for my family when my father saw the brochure for this,” he says. “He said ‘Ooh, what’s that?’”

The property was no longer for sale at the time, but he still was captivated.

“I think more because he was a passionate amateur architect he wanted to see the house,” Cannold says.

So he did, getting a tour from Cronyn, who enjoyed a long career on stage and screen, often with his Tony- and Oscar-winning wife, Jessica Tandy.

“They struck up a beautiful friendship,” Cannold says. “My father and Hume became fast friends over their shared passion.”

That direct link to the creation of Mystery Lake only added to its outward charms, Cannold adds.

“That it was created by and lived in by Hume and Jessie made it even more tantalizing.”

In time, Cronyn and Tandy finally agreed to sell it – and Cannold’s parents were the buyers.

“It’s been a family compound ever since,” Cannold says. “It’s really been a combination of a tree house, a family compound, a party house, a lake house… it was a fabulous party house, the site of many, many clambakes, rehearsal dinners, family reunions.”

There was even, he notes, a surprise birthday party for his late father that came complete with a hot-air balloon launched over the lake.

Sweet memories

When a home, even a part-time residence like this lakeside getaway, is in a family for decades, it becomes part of the family’s unique history.

Cannold has especially fond memories of his parents’ connection to the home and recalls something his mother said that illustrates the importance of Mystery Lake in their lives.

When the family would drive up from their Sound Shore-area home, even though his mother was in the back seat, she knew when they were getting close to their destination by her husband’s reaction.

“She could see him begin to smile through the back of his head when he came to Pound Ridge,” Cannold shares.

It’s a statement that is symbolic of the sense of “peace, comfort,” Cannold says, that Mystery Lake brought his father and in turn, his entire family.

And those deeper qualities, Cannold concludes, truly explain what Mystery Lake can do for whoever is lucky enough to call it home.

“It really plays into the spirit of why people will love it.”

For more information, contact Brian Murray at (914) 417-1510 or bmurray@houlihanlawrence.com; or JB Avery at (914) 646-3557 or javery@houlihanlawrence.com. 

 

MYSTERY LAKE at a Glance

• Pound Ridge

• 5,308 square feet

• 22.32 acres

• Bedrooms: 10

• Baths: 6 full, 1 half

• Amenities: Total privacy, lake views, first-floor master suite, pool, dining room with wet bar, eat-in kitchen, butler’s pantry, vaulted/cathedral ceilings, fireplaces, walkout basement, water access, guest/caretaker cottage, extensive decks, electric tram links boathouse to main home, two-car garage.

• Price: $3.45 million

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