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Haunted Woolworth mansion goes up for auction for $7M after featuring in Taylor Swift’s music video

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A ‘haunted’ New York mansion that featured in Taylor Swift’s Blank Space music video and comes complete with its very own clock tower is now headed to auction – at a discounted price.

The historic property, which was once owned by entrepreneur Frank Winfield Woolworth, is located in Long Island and will be available to bid on later this month.

Having failed to sell for its initial asking price of $19.95 million, the sprawling house will now go up on the block, with bids starting at $7 million – meaning that it could well prove an impressive real estate bargain for one lucky buyer. 

Known as Winfield Hall – but also sometimes called Woolworth Mansion – it was designed by famous architect C. P. H. Gilbert. The property was built in 1917 for Woolworth, founder of the original US-based Woolworth store, who also worked with the architect on the design and construction of the famous Woolworth Building in New York City.

Own a piece of history: The iconic Woolworth mansion in Long Island, New York, is going up for auction on July 12, with a starting bid of $7 million - having previously been put up for sale with an asking price of $19.95 million

Own a piece of history: The iconic Woolworth mansion in Long Island, New York, is going up for auction on July 12, with a starting bid of $7 million – having previously been put up for sale with an asking price of $19.95 million 

Proceed with caution: The sprawling estate is one of the few remaining privately-owned estates from the Gilded Age, however it has also been the subject of much paranormal speculation

Proceed with caution: The sprawling estate is one of the few remaining privately-owned estates from the Gilded Age, however it has also been the subject of much paranormal speculation 

Spacious: Construction on the property - which boasts a clock tower building-turned-11-car garage (pictured), began in 1916 and was completed one year later, having been designed by famed architect C. P. H. Gilbert

Spacious: Construction on the property – which boasts a clock tower building-turned-11-car garage (pictured), began in 1916 and was completed one year later, having been designed by famed architect C. P. H. Gilbert

Unique: Many of the estate's original architecture remains, including plenty of marble statues and buildings that are located throughout the 16.4-acre property and grounds

Unique: Many of the estate’s original architecture remains, including plenty of marble statues and buildings that are located throughout the 16.4-acre property and grounds  

Claim to fame: When it was first built, the mansion, which boasts 56 rooms, including 12 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms, was said to have been the biggest home in the whole US

Claim to fame: When it was first built, the mansion, which boasts 56 rooms, including 12 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms, was said to have been the biggest home in the whole US 

When it was first built, the mansion was said to be the largest home in the whole of the US, and while it no longer holds that title, it still boasts an impressive array of rooms, amenities, and unique interior touches. 

The impressive 32,000 sq ft building has a total of 56 rooms, including 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms and 16 fireplaces.

There is also a butterfly marble staircase that would have cost approximately $2 million when it was first built.

History and property buffs will also be thrilled by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rescue a Gilded Age Mansion, one of a number of properties in the United States built by the wealthiest families between 1870 and the early 1900s.

Included in the sale is 16.4 acres of grounds including sweeping lawns with classical-style features.

There is also a 15,000 sq ft clock tower building with enough space to store 11 cars, which has previously been used as staff residences and office space. 

However, for for many music fans, the space is likely most easily recognized for having featured in Taylor Swift’s MTV award-winning music video. 

Familiar? The property earned further notoriety in 2014 when it featured in Swift's Blank Space music video

Familiar? The property earned further notoriety in 2014 when it featured in Swift’s Blank Space music video 

Spot the difference! The popstar filmed several scenes in the mansion, making full use of the property's stunning interior

Spot the difference! The popstar filmed several scenes in the mansion, making full use of the property’s stunning interior 

Cheers! One scene saw Taylor enjoying a feast in the mansion's dining room, where she set up a lengthy table filled with food

Cheers! One scene saw Taylor enjoying a feast in the mansion’s dining room, where she set up a lengthy table filled with food

Film set: This front entryway was also used in the filming of the music video

Film set: This front entryway was also used in the filming of the music video 

Upset: The popstar recorded a particularly emotional moment in the marble-filled space, leaning against one of the mansion's many fireplaces while she sobbed on the floor

Upset: The popstar recorded a particularly emotional moment in the marble-filled space, leaning against one of the mansion’s many fireplaces while she sobbed on the floor 

Strike a pose: It is also thought that this scene was shot in the mansion, although images of this area have not been released ahead of the July 12 auction

Strike a pose: It is also thought that this scene was shot in the mansion, although images of this area have not been released ahead of the July 12 auction 

In the video, the star can be seen living in an opulent mansion and playing house with model Sean O’Pry.

The fairytale building formed the backdrop for several scenes, including Swift’s dining room featuring an enormous chandelier, wood-paneled ceiling and white marble fireplace.

The mansion also featured in a scene where Swift and O’Pry slow danced in black tie.

A separate shot showed Swift singing with tear-stained cheeks in a leopard dress next to an ornate fireplace.

As well as being used as a home and music video set, Winfield Hall also served as a modelling and airline stewardess school for young women in the 1960s.   

But though the property was most recently used as the set of a glamorous music video, it has a much darker history, having been the subject of decades of rumors about paranormal activity and ghost sightings.  

It has long been speculated the the sprawling mansion is ‘haunted’ by the spirit of Woolworth’s late daughter, Edna, who committed suicide on May 2, 1917, shortly after the property’s build was completed. 

Luxurious: When the property was built, no expense was spared, and this butterfly marble staircase is said to have cost a staggering $2 million when it was first installed

Luxurious: When the property was built, no expense was spared, and this butterfly marble staircase is said to have cost a staggering $2 million when it was first installed 

Retro: There are several wood-paneled rooms in the property, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of Woolworth's daughter Edna, who is believed to have killed herself in the home in May 1917

Retro: There are several wood-paneled rooms in the property, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of Woolworth’s daughter Edna, who is believed to have killed herself in the home in May 1917 

Going, going, gone: The home was most recently owned by Martin T. Carey, brother of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, who bought the property in 1978. He died in June 2020, and the mansion is now being auctioned as part of his estate

Going, going, gone: The home was most recently owned by Martin T. Carey, brother of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, who bought the property in 1978. He died in June 2020, and the mansion is now being auctioned as part of his estate 

Rooms on rooms: The mansion boasts 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, and 16 fireplaces

Rooms on rooms: The mansion boasts 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, and 16 fireplaces

Rooms on rooms: The mansion boasts 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, and 16 fireplaces 

Mysterious: The property was seriously damaged by a fire that ripped through several of its rooms in 2015 - in an eerily similar accident to the one that destroyed Woolworth's previous home

Mysterious: The property was seriously damaged by a fire that ripped through several of its rooms in 2015 – in an eerily similar accident to the one that destroyed Woolworth’s previous home  

Potential: Auction house Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co is offering potential bidders a 'once in a lifetime opportunity to rehabilitate an existing Golden Age mansion', which is one of the 'few remaining privately owned estate homes of this era'

Potential: Auction house Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co is offering potential bidders a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity to rehabilitate an existing Golden Age mansion’, which is one of the ‘few remaining privately owned estate homes of this era’

Special: The home's ornate interior makes it a particularly intriguing property for anyone with an interest in architecture

Special: The home's ornate interior makes it a particularly intriguing property for anyone with an interest in architecture

Special: The home’s ornate interior makes it a particularly intriguing property for anyone with an interest in architecture

It is claimed she took her own life at New York City’s Plaza Hotel, though many believe the never-unlocked ‘Marie Antoinette’ room in the mansion was in fact the place of Edna’s death, while her father was hosting a party.

Shortly before the incident, a crack appeared in the marble family crest above the fireplace – and there has long been speculation that it was caused by a bolt of lightning, which struck the house and left a representation of her face, according to Newsday

‘Furthermore, one of the most frequently told tales concerning the Woolworth mansion holds that a bolt of lightning struck the house the day before her passing, cracking a representation of Edna’s face in a family crest carved into a stone mantel – an event considered a supernatural omen of her unexpected demise,’ the publication reported in 2018. 

Noises have been heard, ‘spirit sightings’ have been reported, and visitors claimed they heard a woman crying in the Marie Antoinette room. 

It has also been alleged that Woolworth had ‘an obsession with the occult’ and that he incorporated several mythical symbols into the interior design of the property. 

‘Speculation that F.W. Woolworth had an obsession with the occult and that he had mystic symbols placed within the interior design is also part of the legends that have been attached to the house, as well as reports of hidden rooms and tunnels woven throughout the structure,’ Newsday claimed.   

Looking back: Woolworth, who made his fortune by founding a chain of 'five-and-dime' stores, commissioned the property after his former home burned to the ground. It is pictured in 1920, three years after its completion

Looking back: Woolworth, who made his fortune by founding a chain of ‘five-and-dime’ stores, commissioned the property after his former home burned to the ground. It is pictured in 1920, three years after its completion

Remaining true: Much of the original architecture remains in the mansion, including the many fireplaces and the ornate marble interiors

Remaining true: Much of the original architecture remains in the mansion, including the many fireplaces and the ornate marble interiors

Remaining true: Much of the original architecture remains in the mansion, including the many fireplaces and the ornate marble interiors

Plenty of room! The grounds also feature several different structures, including several archways, which are said to have been inspired by Woolworth's fascination with Napoleon

Plenty of room! The grounds also feature several different structures, including several archways, which are said to have been inspired by Woolworth’s fascination with Napoleon  

Famous: The property was designed by the same architect who worked with Woolworth (pictured) on the construction of the iconic Woolworth Building, which was listed as the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930

on the construction of the iconic Woolworth Building (pictured), which was listed as the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930

Famous: The property was designed by the same architect who worked with Woolworth (left) on the construction of the iconic Woolworth Building (right), which was listed as the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930

Then, in January 2015, the lavish home was gutted by a mysterious fire that ripped through several rooms in the property in an eerily similar blaze to the one that destroyed Woolworth’s first home – prompting him to begin work on Winfield Hall.  

The blaze, which erupted at around 11am in a first-floor bedroom, caused millions of dollars worth of damage. However, the mansion has since been returned to its former glory and is now set to be auctioned off on July 12 by Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co. 

According to the real estate auction site, the property is part of the estate of its late owner Martin T. Carey, brother of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, who bought the mansion in 1978. He passed away in June 2020. 

Although the auction listing for the property offers potential bidders a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity to rehabilitate an existing Golden Age mansion’, which is one of the ‘few remaining privately owned estate homes of this era’, it has also been suggested that the estate could easily be ‘repurposed’ or ‘subdivided’ by any buyer looking to turn it into a more profitable property. 

The property, although certainly impressive, is not the most famous building to bear the Woolworth name. 

That honor goes to the Woolworth Building, the towering skyscraper that was also designed by C. P. H. Gilbert – the same man who created the entrepreneur’s mansion. 

When the 792-foot skyscraper was completed in 1913, it was given the title of tallest building in the world, an honor that it held until 1930. 

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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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Selling your home? Here’s how to make sure it has kerb appeal by sprucing up outside space

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As anyone who has indulged in the brutal ‘swipe left’ culture of internet dating will testify, you don’t often get a second chance to make a first impression. And the same is true when trying to sell your property.

That’s why what lies at the front of your house — be it lawn, gravel or flagstones — can play a major role in making a sale.

Indeed, having a pleasing ‘shop front’ to snag potential buyers scrolling through listings or even walking past outside can offer leverage to boost the asking price, says Colby Short, CEO of estate agent comparison site getagent.co.uk.

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

‘Homes that offer a front garden carry a 4 per cent property price premium versus those without, and that equates to more than £11,000 in the current market,’ he says.

So what changes can you make to the patch in front of your house to help improve the saleability of the property?

Some alterations are simple, entry-level innovations. For example, even the smallest swatch of grass should be mown and rubbish-free. 

In fact, bins and recycling boxes are often the first thing you see in a front garden, as well as the detritus left by squirrels who have curated bits of dinner from your bags of rubbish. But it’s easy to hide bins away in a box unit.

‘If you’re trying to hide ugly bins, how about building a bin store with a planter on the top, then you can have some gorgeous outdoor succulents and flowering alpines?’ says QVC UK’s gardening expert Michael Perry. 

You can also buy wooden bin stores from outdoor furniture suppliers such as Wayfair (from £125.99).

Meanwhile, hanging baskets outside your front door help to break up a harsh brick wall, says Sean Lade, of Easy Garden Irrigation.

‘Hanging baskets are an excellent choice for adding colour and scent to your front garden and soften the front of your house. They should be installed at eye level —about 5 ft off the ground.’

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

And think about replacing tired fencing or dilapidated brick walls with natural borders, such as Boxwood hedging, which will add visual interest and is also easy to prune throughout the year.

‘If you prefer a cottage garden appearance, then why not train climbing plants to create natural archways around your front door, porch or gate?’ says Deborah Cobb, product manager at builders’ merchants MKM.

‘Raised flower beds are also a clever way to add some natural foliage. If you fill them with evergreen shrubs, then they are an easy-to-look-after and low-maintenance option that will look good all year round.’

In terms of what plants to go for, Nicola Bird, founder of seed subscription service The Floral Project, suggests some annual flowers are perfect for planting at the front of your house if you’re looking to sell. 

‘They include varieties such as cosmos, phlox, zinnias and sweet peas — not only to bring a bright splash of colour to your front garden, but also serve as a great conversation starter with your potential buyers.’

Even if you don’t have a patch of grass in front of your home, there are other fundamentals which will help with the sale, says Jonathan Rolande, professional property buyer at housebuyfast.co.uk.

This includes jet-washing your path. And just before a visit from potential buyers, remove any vehicles, where possible, to help to create an impression of space.

‘Clean the windows, frames and front doors — and clean the house number,’ he says. ‘If the garden is mostly given over to parking, soften the look with pots and planters filled with bright flowers and attractive shrubs.’

 You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy

He adds that if you don’t have a lawn, terracotta planters on the front sills look great with fragrant plants such as lavender and rosemary appealing to the sense of smell, too.

If your front garden is really small, use decorative gravel such as pea shingle or slate chippings, suggests Thomas Goodman, property expert at homeowner and tradesman connection website myjobquote.co.uk.

‘This will give you an attractive, low-maintenance base for topping with a few nice plant pots.

‘Fix anything that’s broken, including gates, fences and walls. These detract from any nice planting and give the impression of a home that’s not properly maintained and is going to need work.’

Colby Short says some items in your garden should be permanently jettisoned to improve the chances of a sale.

‘You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy. The same goes for any large statues or display items, particularly if they are of a political, religious or risque nature.

‘When it comes to potential buyers, you want to present a blank canvas. But that doesn’t mean this canvas can’t look good and add appeal in its own right.’

On the market… with kerb appeal 

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

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Elephant Park expands its retail offer (GB)

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Lendlease has announced the openings of two new spaces at Elephant Park: all-day kitchen and bar RAREBIT; and community garden store The Nunhead Gardener.

 

RAREBIT – the all-day kitchen and evening dining, bar, and grocery store – has opened its first brick-and-mortar location on Elephant Park’s casual dining hub, Sayer Street. The brand-new concept has a menu focusing on British favorites including the Welsh ‘rarebit’, and its grocery stocks a range of independent wines, craft beers, and coffee from East London coffee shop, Climpson & Sons. This selection is complemented by cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy, charcuterie from London Smoke & Cure, and produce from Natoora.

 

The Nunhead Gardener is the latest brand to move from one of Lendlease’s meanwhile units into a permanent space at Elephant Park, following the likes of Dima Beautiful, Beza Ethiopian Vegan, and bar and bottle shop The Tap In. The 900ft² unit on Sayer Street stocks a selection of indoor and outdoor plants, as well as specialty gardening tools, seeds, and seasonal scented candles.

 

Guy Thomas, Head of Place Assets at Lendlease, commented: “Both of these openings speak to our core values at Elephant Park, with a commitment to providing our local community with uses that are independent, sustainability-oriented, and unique. The arrival of RAREBIT adds a new cuisine to casual dining hub Sayer Street, and The Nunhead Gardener’s revamped permanent space has created a plant haven that we know local people will love.”

 

Mark Angell and Will Nias, Co-Founders of RAREBIT, said: “RAREBIT is about bringing a modern, fresh concept to people who want top-quality food and drink. Whether that be for grocery shopping or sit-down dining, we are so excited to be welcoming customers through our doors at Elephant Park. It is such a buzzing area, and we are proud to introduce RAREBIT to this diverse and vibrant environment.”

 

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