YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Your Mama is finally back home but plum tuckered out and on our last nerve from nearly a week dragging around San Francisco after our busy as a beaver and punishingly boozy b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau during a week of weather uncharacteristically reminiscent of Hot and Hades Los Angeles.
The apparently indefatigable and more often than not drunk Miss Trambeau scampered us around to here, there, and everywhere including the almost completely gentrified Valencia Street corridor for the LitCrawl, a high-brow-ish literary event that might better be named Booze and Books Night. We ate cheap Chinese food and downed buckets of beer on Clement Street with Miss Anne and her new man and we immensely enjoyed a Proseco-fueled dinner in SoMa with Falsetta Knockers and her husband Herr Wordsmith. We ogled at all the butt-ass nekkid gays who strut boldly around the Castro–yes, puppies, we’re talking about people going about their errands and making the bar rounds naked as the day they were born–and we came home with a new tattoo on our right arm that we only barely recall having done. We are, in short, exhausted. None the less we push on, pedal to the medal with gas tank on fumes.
Most of the time–and sometimes too often–Your Mama blathers on about high-priced homes owned by famous folks in star studded places like Los Angeles and New York City. Iffin we’re lucky we might get a nugget in London or Nashville. It isn’t often, then, we get to work over a ritzy residence in a decidedly un-celebrity-like locale such as Asheville, NC. (That’s North Carolina butter beans.) Today, in an effort to spread our celebrity real estate wings a bit, we piggy-back on the peeps over at Zillow to (dis and) discuss the elegant if a tad dowdy Ashville, NC mansion that pushing sixty and still stunning model and actress Andie MacDowell recently heaved on the market with a very celebrity-like asking price of $4,500,000.
First let Your Mama remind the older children of and educate the younger children as to the what’s-what for our Miz MacDowell. Born into an affluent and educated family in South Carolina, Miz MacDowell had bigger dreams, it seems, than debutante balls and NASCAR races. She saved her pennies and high-tailed it to New York City in the early 1980s where she became a top model, mostly print, who worked with top photographers.
It wasn’t long before she went into acting, a rarely successful professional move for models. Her big (but ultimately bittersweet) break came with a part in the 1984 movie Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Alas, in the final cut her lines were dubbed by none other than Her Tinseltown Majesty Glenn Close because at that time Miz MacDowell’s pleasantly genteel but rather pronounced southern accent was deemed rather too pronounced for the silver screen. Incidentally, that movie was adapted from the Edgar Rice Burroughs books by Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne whose mansion in Pacific Palisades, CA was just put on the market for $14,000,000 and discussed just yesterday by Your Mama.
Miz MacDowell’s salad days in the Big Business of Show came in the late-1980s and ran into the mid-1990s with starring roles in cinematic successes such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Short Cuts, Groundhog Day, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Since then she has appeared in a very long list of lackluster films and tee-vee movies that include Riding the Bus With My Sister, The Six Wives of Henry LeFay, and the unfortunate recent remake of Footloose. Miz MacDowell continues to model, mostly for cosmetic companies.
Anyhoo, property records indicate Miz MacDowell purchased her property in the upscale Biltmore Forest community outside Ashville back in June 1998. She paid $790,000 for two vacant and adjacent parcels in the woodsy enclave that total 1.89 acres and overlook the 7th fairway of the hoity–toity Biltmore Forest Country Club. The subsequently built residence, a fanciful top-heavy stone and pebble dash Tudor crossed with an Arts and Crafts-y cottage, looks to Your Mama like the sort of place the witch in the Grimm brother’s Hansel and Gretel would live if she were a wealthy southern divorcée with a Mercedes and a handsome golf pro on speed dial.
Listing information for Miz MacDowell’s très trad 4-floor mansion shows it measures 10,872 square feet–property records show 10,425 square feet–and contains a total of 6 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms, 6 fireplaces plus an antique English stove, whatever that is, and a 10-zone heating and cooling system.
A (possibly mahogany) wood and stained glass door with architecturally appropriate and vintage-looking hardware opens to a sizable but warmly decorated foyer with dark wood floors–also possibly mahogany–a vaulted ceiling with exposed wood beams, and walls covered in paper printed with a complicated but subtly colored pattern. It’s all a little antique-oriented and Sophisticated Grandma for Your Mama but it’s certainly tasteful and properly dignified.
The interior spaces include a conservatory lined on three sides with tall and narrow arched windows and a formal dining room with leaded-glass windows and painted paneling that extends 3/4 of the way up the wall towards the carved moldings and detailed ceiling. The primary living and entertaining space seems to be an informal dining nook and capacious great room with lustrous wood floors, wood burning fireplace, double-height vaulted and beamed ceiling, heavy carved wood architectural details, and a staircase that winds and climbs its way to the second floor living areas. A wide-screen television was cleverly tucked under the stairs and hidden behind wood panels that disappear into the cabinetry when fully opened. The adjoining informal dining area has double-height ceilings and walls lined with a graphic grid of rectangular windows and thick moldings.
The formal dining room connects through a large butler’s pantry to the even larger, well-equipped eat-in kitchen that includes a large center island, snack counter, breakfast area, and high ceiling crisscrossed by heavy wood beams. This is the very picture of the sort of traditionally done cooker that neither Your Mama nor the Dr. Cooter would ever want to have installed in our own home but that does not stop us from having a romance with the double-wide commercial-style range and the elegantly rustic jade-colored Arts and Crafts tile back splash behind it.
A second floor family gathering room hangs over the great room and offers a decorative brick fireplace and built in book and display shelves tucked into a pointed arch beneath the staircase. Listing photos show the room is furnished with little more than a fancy-looking pool table. We can only hope someone in the MacDowell family likes to shoot the pool otherwise that big ol‘ thing is just an expensive and useless hunk of wood and felt whose sole purpose is to fill up otherwise useless square footage.
The master suite, wrapped in dark wood trimming and molding and lined with a mossy-green and bone-colored wallpaper, includes a shallow brick and tile-faced fireplace and a sizable separate sitting room with high-pitched ceiling. The attached bathroom has a masculine edge trimmed with ecclesiastically-inclined architectural details. Custom wood paneling adds an strong whiff of manliness to the space that has double sinks and a soaking tub for two that sits in front of a gigantic window with forest view. On either side of the tub are two etched glass panels, one opens into the shower stall and the other to the crapper cubby. Some of the children may be disturbed to notice, as does Your Mama, the carved wood structures into which the shower and terlit cubicle are fitted bear a too-striking resemblance to a Catholic confessional.
A study/library on the third floor has a fireplace and wildly pitched and multi-peaked ceiling and the lowest level of the house contains a family room filled with fringed-upholstered furniture that opens through French doors to sunken terrace.
Listing information for Miz MacDowell’s digs in Asheville indicate in addition to the 10,000-plus square foot of interior spaces there is also 1,977 square feet of terraces, porches and balconies with views of the surrounding forests, over the manicured fairway and towards the rolling mountains in the distance. Your Mama would rather live in a trailor park than have mansion that backs up to a golf course–there’s just something we find dreadful and entirely undesirable about golf courses–but this part of North Carolina has undeniably spectacular scenery that explodes into a riot of rusts, oranges and yellows in the dramatic leaf peeping fall season.
Your Mama can only guess at Miz MacDowell’s reason(s) for wanting to sell her 10,000-plus square foot Tudor. Perhaps now that her three children are all now young adults and (presumably) off living elsewhere the mansion has just become too big for the mistress? Could be, but then again, maybe not.
In March 2008 property records reveal that Miz MacDowell paid $995,000 for a 4,939 square foot residence in Fletcher, NC with 4 bedrooms and 4 full and 2 half bathrooms. Of course, we don’t know a bolt hole from a hole in the wall and as such Your Mama has zero idea if this property was purchased for private use by Miz MacDowell or for some other purpose.
Back in 2002 (or maybe 2003), Miz MacDowell was still married to her magnificently named second husband Rhett DeCamp Hartzog and property records indicate that a corporate entity linked directly to her (and then their) address in Ashville purchased more than 2,500 acres of rugged and remote ranch property in Huson, MT. Your Mama again freely admits we have no notion whatsoever if Miz MacDowell has any sort of ownership or involvement with this property. We only know that deeds and documents we peeped show the address for the corporate entity and owner as Miz MacDowell’s mansion in Asheville.
Now then, on that wishy-washy note, we’re off for a nip o’ gin and a nap. We suggest y’all do the same.
listing photos: Preferred Properties of Asheville