You’ve probably never heard of Snedens Landing, New York, even if you live in the state. You’ve definitely heard of some of its current and former residents, though: 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 only about a hundred houses in the hamlet of Orangetown. This area is also called Palisades.
All by itself, this house, set on half an acre of land, built sometime before the Revolutionary War and known as Ding Dong House, has been home to Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman (in the late 90s), Jerome Robbins, and Margot Kidder. It’s now on the market, complete with all its 18th and 19th century antiques, furnishings, and a collection of Hudson River School art, for $6.5 million via Richard Ellis at Ellis Sotheby’s International Realty.
At just over 3,200 square feet, the house is fairly modestly sized, with three bedrooms, three and a half baths. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in personality, not to mention fantastic views of the Hudson.
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 first library in the area. It had an enormous bell on top of it: thus the name. No one knows what happened to that bell, sadly.
Later, in the 19th century, sculptors Mary Lawrence Tonetti and François Tonetti purchased several properties in Snedens Landing, creating a kind of artists’ and actors’ colony with big names like Laurence Olivier and Ethel Barrymore. (Despite its star power, Woody Allen referred to the town as boring in his movie “Manhattan”!)
Originally a vernacular Dutch farmhouse, the former Sneden/Kidder/Robbins/Hawke/Thurman house was built somewhere around the 1750s and enlarged around the 1850s. A comprehensive $2.5 million restoration over the past five years includes a new slate roof, a sophisticated security system, and additional repairs in keeping with the old house. There are three living spaces, three en-suite bedrooms, four working fireplaces, and a beautiful porch overlooking the river. The yard, with its pool and outdoor kitchen, is planted with manicured as well as wild gardens, and includes several entertaining areas and arbors, an outdoor shower, and massive stone walls and steps. There isn’t a bell but the legend of Ding Dong House lives on anyways.
All this, close to the city, yet right on the river and surrounded by parklands with hiking trails? And hardly anyone even knows it exists? No wonder the rich and famous have always if very quietly flocked to Snedens Landing.