This estate in Virginia’s horse country, with a historic stone mansion, numerous outbuildings and guest houses, equestrian families, a pool, and a tennis court, has plenty of open space for shooting deer, turkey, quail, and pheasant. Listed by Steven McLean at McLean Faulconer, the 1,471-acre spread, known as North Wales Farm, is available for a cool $29.95 million.
Weighing in at a palatial 38,500 square feet, the main house is a 22-bedroom, eighteen-bay, stone manor with a slate roof, copper gutters, and ten stone chimneys. It’s filled with period features, some of which date to c. 1776, when the central part of the home was built. Outside, there are pine ridges, hardwood forests, rolling fields and pastures, and lush formal gardens. Several streams meander through the private idyll, and there are a couple of fish-stocked ponds, all of which can be enjoyed from the house via large covered porches and open terraces.
The formal entertaining spaces comprise a suite of grand rooms embellished with intricate moldings, elaborate mantels and cornices, Delft tile and marble fireplace surrounds, Tuscan columns and pediments. Living and dining spaces are complemented by a drawing room and a library, while the fabulous, huge and homey kitchen boasts three refrigerators, six sinks, and double ovens, as well as a butler’s pantry and a silver vault. The lower level, with stone-flagged floors and brick arches, contains a rustic pub and billiard room, a wine cellar and, this being a hunting estate, a large gun storage room.
The most recent owner was retired Goldman Sachs partner David B. Ford, who purchased the property in 2014 for $21 million, around the time he married Pamela Fielder. Ford passed in 2020 but several years earlier, in 2017, unsuccessfully tried to sell the estate with a $33 million price. During their eight years of marriage, the Fords presided a few other heavy-hitter properties besides North Wales Farm, including an Upper East Side penthouse as well as the Newport, R.I., Gilded Age mansion known as Miramar. In 2016, about a decade after Ford acquired it for $17.5 million, the couple hosted a fundraiser for Mike Pence at Miramar. And in yet another example of immensely rich Wall Streeters buying everything, Miramar was sold last autumn for $27 million to Blackstone CEO Steven Schwarzman.
Back in the day, though, which in North Wales Farm’s case was 1718, the folks with money to acquire and maintain enormous estates weren’t bankers but landed aristocrats. In 1718, the property was granted by Lady Catherine Culpeper Fairfax to Col. Rice Hooe, Jr., and Capt. John Hooe. John willed his interest in the property to his daughter, Ann, who later married William Allason. William, a successful merchant, and Ann built the original five-bay, two-story Georgian-style stone home between 1776 and 1796.
Appraised in 1815 with a value of $1,500, the estate remained in the original family until 1914 when it was sold to Wall Street broker Edward M. Weld for $20,000. (And heeeere comes the Wall Street money!) From a well-known Boston Brahmin family, Weld was an avid equestrian. He added the carriage house, equestrian center, stables, barns, and offices, along with tenant housing and a handsome Dutch Colonial Revival-style house.
Weld also added extensive Renaissance- and English-style gardens, built terraced lawns, and substantially enlarged the house. Beautifully complementing the original Colonial style, he added several wings as well as north- and south-facing porticoes in the Colonial Revival style. Eventually, he decided to turn much of the estate into a private sportsman’s club for shooting, fox hunting, and socializing, so viewing stations, a bathhouse, a hunt pavilion, and a lookout tower were added. Businessmen paid $5,000 each to become members.
In 1941, Walter P. Chrysler Jr., son of the auto magnate, purchased the farm. An avid art collector, the automotive heir and Chrysler executive hung works by Picasso, Rodin, Degas, and Matisse, among others. He bred racehorses, added a conservatory to house his mother’s orchids — it’s now used for growing ferns — and built the swimming pool. The farm became a locus for society parties, with important government officials and social butterflies all invited.
So the stories go, Chrysler sold the estate in 1957 to former Oklahoma Congressman Victor Wickersham because “Virginia did not have pari-mutuel racing,” a betting system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool. (Sounds a bit like a rich person having a hissy fit!) Fortunately, ever since then, the estate has been owned by people who care deeply for its heritage, with much of the land placed under a strict conservation easement that permanently limits future development. The estate can still be used for agricultural purposes but because of its grand stateliness better lends itself perhaps to the genteel, insular, and highly competitive world of deep-pocketed equestrians and high-maintenance thoroughbred horses.
And if all that isn’t enough to ensure the sprawling country estate feel like a bucolic world unto itself, the driveway that leads to the manor is nearly 1.5 miles, winding past meadows, over stone bridges, and finally to a double allée of maples that leads up the the house. Welcome to North Wales Farm.