At first glance, the Danish Home looks a little out of place in the wooded hills just outside the village of Croton-on-Hudson. With its quaint arches, cobblestoned courtyard and clay tile roof, it would seem more at home in Europe. Or in Scandinavia.
And that was the directive of its original builder. The structure was designed as the stables for the estate of businessman J.M. Kaplan in the 1930s, explained Erik Andersen, executive director and administrator of the Danish Home.
The Danish Home opened on the property in 1954, operating as nursing home and assisted living facility for about 24 residents. It closed in 2020 and the property is now on the market for $2,950,000. It is listed with Paul Adler of Rand Commercial.
The property, in the Teatown area at 1065 Quaker Bridge Road East, has received strong interest from potential buyers, Adler said.
“Danish Home offers old world charm and an enchanting location for a variety of possible uses, such as a retreat and conference center, learning institution or nonprofit headquarters and more,” said Adler, the chief strategy officer for Rand Commercial.
According to Adler, the property, located in the town of Cortlandt, (but with a Croton-on-Hudson address) is zoned R-80, with permitted uses under current zoning listed as single-family residences, house of worship or a school for general learning. The property has been operating for the last 70 plus years under pre-existing non-conforming use as the Danish Home and is currently tax exempt since it is owned by a 501c3 organization.
According to Adler, the property will remain tax exempt if a qualified 501c3 tax exempt organization purchases the property. If a for-profit entity purchases the property, it will go back on the tax rolls.
Stables for an estate
J.M. Kaplan, who owned the controlling interest in Welch Grape Juice, was a philanthropist who donated to the New School in Manhattan, helped to save Carnegie Hall from the wrecking ball, and was a supporter of causes large and small, from providing seed money to struggling arts groups to helping fund the South Street Seaport, according to his obituary
For his personal residence, he hired architect Alfred Gray to design an homage to the chateaux in Normandy, France, according to a history of the Danish Home. However, when completed in 1934, the buildings mostly resembled a traditional Danish farm.
Kaplan’s stable complex — which then was transformed into his residence and eventually, the Danish Home — was composed of four attached buildings surrounding a central, cobblestone courtyard. In its center is a fountain Mrs. Kaplan had imported from France. The entrance to the courtyard is through an arch set in the center of the east wall.
A long driveway curves up from Quaker Bridge Road East to reach the site, set at a high point on the property. There are views of the Hudson River, and in winter, the Croton Reservoir. When it’s quiet, and especially when the spillway is active, it is possible to hear the sound of water splashing over the reservoir.
For the early part of Kaplan’s tenure, the buildings housed animals and farm equipment, said Anderson. The space was then converted into his home.
“The family then decided to convert what was essentially a stable and barn into living space,” said Andersen. “Mrs. Kaplan was an artist and had the manure room turned into her art studio.”
Outdoors, Mrs. Kaplan planned and built a sprawling garden — Anderson has the original blueprints — but today, most of it has disappeared into history. There are walking paths, mature trees and flowering shrubs. The property abuts the Old Croton Aqueduct.
The Kaplans’ residency was short-lived, and they soon sold the estate, which changed hands again in 1948. The 50-acre property became the Ramble Hill Resort Club, which offered guests horseback riding, a tennis court and swimming pool.
Anderson said the Danish Home for the Aged, which had been located in Brooklyn in the early 20th century, purchased the property in 1954.
It accommodated two dozen residents in cozy rooms on the first and second floors. The original details of Kaplan’s design were still intact on a recent visit. Dark wood trim and stone floors greet visitors in the foyer; the great room boasts a massive wood beamed cathedral ceiling, wood burning fireplace and casement windows.
The dining room, now set with tables for two or four residents, is elegantly finished with a beamed ceiling, parquet floors and oak-panels.
On the second floor, Kaplan installed a “game” room for rainy day fun. The original shuffleboard courts, along with vintage paddles and cues, are still there. In the commercial kitchen — with its own beamed cathedral ceiling — the massive walk-in refrigerator sports an original wooden door.
Anderson worked on Wall Street for the majority of his career and was ready to retire when the Danish Home was looking for a new executive director. He had been a board member for many years, but took on the role of executive director for the last 13 years.
He said the Danish Home was a wonderful place. “We had residents who didn’t want to go home for the holidays because they loved it here so much,” he said. One of the longest tenured residents recently passed away at age 103. He had lived at the Danish Home for 13 years.
Anderson said the pandemic took a toll on the senior care industry in general, and with the Danish Home being a single home, caring for fewer than two dozen people, it was no longer viable to remain open.
Karen Croke is the features editor for lohud.com and poughkeepsiejournal.com. Find my stories here. Reach me at email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Danish Home is on the market: Westchester property was a nursing home