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Hot home news: Dave Thomas, Steve Martin and George Washington's brother

Anonymous • Jun 13, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Dave “Wendy's” Thomas Lake House

After years of working for Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken where he got his start in the restaurant field, Dave Thomas and the Colonel parted ways over a disagreement on the best way to drain the grease from freshly fried chicken. Sanders wanted it handpicked from the deep fryer and Dave wanted it dumped all at one time. The Colonel wouldn’t waver and Dave left, selling his franchise shares and stock, which totaled a little over $1 million. He opened his first restaurant in Columbus, Ohio in 1969, across the street from a popular children’s science museum, cooking the food he loved the most - hamburgers. The restaurant, named Wendy’s after his daughter, began making a profit in only six weeks, and since Dave was familiar with franchise operations that he learned at Kentucky Fried Chicken, he started selling franchises for his Wendy’s restaurants and ended up with 6,000 stores by 2002.

During the years of building the business, Dave was rarely at home to bond or interact with his family during his children's formative years which put somewhat of a wedge between them. His lack of ability to bond with his family might have been a result of a complicated childhood. His unwed mother gave Dave up for adoption and Dave’s new mother died when he was just 5 years old. His adoptive father was frequently out of work during the Depression and left Dave in Fort Wayne, Indiana at age 15.

By 1995 Dave slowed down enough to realize it was time to do something to repair family relations. He bought Round Island in lovely Buckeye Lake just a short drive east on I-70 out of Columbus. It seemed the perfect place to enjoy his children and grandchildren. There was a 1920’s cottage on the island which he restored and made larger, adding a playground and swimming pool. Water came from a well, sewage into a septic tank and electric was run above ground from island to island. Enthusiastic about having the chance to get to know and enjoy his five children and sixteen grandchildren, he named the island Bonding Island. Unfortunately, his dream of spending time with them didn’t come to fruition as Dave’s children and grandchildren rarely visited.

Five years later, Dave was diagnosed with liver cancer. He died from the disease in 2002 at his main home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After his death, his wife sold the island with everything just as they had left it. The family who bought the home rarely used it due to professional obligations and travel distance. Today, the estate is being sold almost exactly as it was when Dave owned the island. The 4,176 square foot house has 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a 3-bay boat house, 5 docks (4 boats are included in the sale), a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, cabana and bath house, fenced playground and swimming pool. There is plenty of island privacy with beautiful views in every direction.

Wendy's Hamburger founder Dave Thomas started his restaurant chain in Columbus, Ohio in 1969. His former Buckeye Lake home is for sale at $1.3M.


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George Washington's Brother's Estate

Did you know that George Washington came from a large family of two half-brothers, three brothers, and two sisters? His youngest brother was Charles who became interested in land ownership when he traveled with George on surveying trips into the expanding frontier. Over the years, Charles became the owner of extensive properties, one of which he called Happy Retreat in the town he designed, now known as Charles Town in West Virginia.

George Washington first became aware of the beauty of this land at the age of 16 when he surveyed it for Thomas, Lord Fairfax. He was so impressed with the area that in 1750 he bought his first land along Bullskin Run which would later expand into nearly 2,300 acres. In fact, his entire family started investing in the area in the mid 1700s. Charles’ half brother, Lawrence was also a large landowner and when he died in 1752, his land was distributed between his brothers, including the land on which Mt. Vernon was later built. Charles took his acreage in the northern area of Virginia and divided 80 acres into what became Charles Town. In 1780, he began construction of Happy Retreat, his manor house, at the edge of what would soon be the town plan.

Happy Retreat was built in the Palladian architectural style, sometimes referred to as Classical Revival, by first constructing the wings connected by an enclosed walkway. The main center section was designed to be added at a later date.

Once settled in one of the wings, Charles began working on the plans for the town, the land for which was 80 acres carved out of his own land. His brother, General George Washington, visited Charles often during that time and always stayed in what he named “the pink room.” Ten members of the Washington family built manors there and George would also visit their homes during his trips. Today only seven of the manors remain and are part of an annual guided tour. Charles named the streets of his town after family members and the town after himself. He also planned a town square with space for government buildings in the hope it eventually would become a county seat. His planning paid off as county lines were eventually changed and it became the county seat of Franklin County and a courthouse was built on the square.

Unfortunately Charles died in September of 1799, just three months before George died, and never got to see either Charles Town or his manor completed. Though so many make the claim, there is no doubt whatsoever that in this home it really is true that “George Washington slept here.”

In 1837, Judge Isaac R. Douglas purchased the Washington property and completed construction of the estate. Today the manor house sits on 12.22 acres, is 6,322 square feet and contains 8 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and 5 fireplaces. There are both front and back staircases leading to the second floor in the center section. The house has retained its original millwork and heart pine floors. Also on the property is the original stone summer kitchen-smoke house and a charming octagonal one-room schoolhouse. By being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, buyers have the additional benefit of applying for grants to assist in funding restoration-maintenance projects should they so desire.


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“House Beautiful” Magazine's First Home

“House Beautiful” was originally published in Chicago in 1896 to showcase the many beautiful homes in the area. Having recovered and rebuilt after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 and the success of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, industry in Chicago was rapidly growing and in turn producing great wealth for many of its citizens. What better way to show off wealth and success than to display it by building elaborate homes, a signature of the well-to-do. There were a dozen industrialists who stood out from all the rest in Chicago toward the end of the 1800s. Some familiar names were Marshall Field, George M. Pullman, Philip D. Armour and William B. Ogden. The mansions they built were over-the-top in scale and grandeur and portrayed the success of the growing city.

The Gilded Age was a perfect time to create a publication depicting the elegant homes and gardens of Chicago’s rich and famous. Eugene Klapp and Henry B. Harvey started the first of the shelter genre publications in 1896 and named it “House Beautiful.” They focused on interior design, architecture, home furnishings and gardens. It was purchased by the Hearst Corporation in 1934 and is the oldest still-published magazine of its type.

The house chosen as the focus of the first issue of “House Beautiful” was a grand 3-story Tudor in what is now known as the sought-after Evanston neighborhood. Evanston is well located where residents are within easy walking distance to shopping, dining and Northwestern University. This home is only a block to Dawes Park and the much enjoyed doggie beach on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The home recently sold in just one day from realtors’ waiting lists even before it had a chance to be placed on the open market. Still with its strong Tudor detailing both inside and out, the house has been lovingly maintained, restored and updated for grand scale modern living and entertaining. The 7 bedroom, 7 bath home sits on a prominent corner with seasonal Lake Michigan views. The home has 5 fireplaces, large chef’s kitchen, gym, formal rooms, professional landscaping and lovely covered and open outdoor living areas. It sold for $2.25 million.

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Steve Martin's Caribbean Home

Now at age 67, it’s undeniable that “Wild and Crazy Guy” Steve Martin has had a fabulous career. From writing comedy, plays, music and books to stand up comedy to stage and film actor and musician, Martin has been showered with awards for excellence at every turn. If it’s creative, he not only does it but excels. His comedy albums “Let’s Get Small” and “A Wild and Crazy Guy” went platinum and his song “King Tut” reached No. 17 on the 1978 charts selling over a million copies. He appeared 16 times on “SNL” and after years in comedy, stopped doing stand-up in 1981 in order to concentrate on film.

Martin started in film back in 1972 and by 1979 had huge successes with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The Jerk.” These successes inspired him to continue. He has now made 53 films, many of which he has either written or co-written. His movies have received critical acclaim and won many major industry awards.

A prolific writer, Martin has written everything from comedy to stage plays, screenplays, short stories, a novella, children’s books, and essays. He also started teaching himself how to play the banjo at the age of 17. He would slow down a bluegrass recording so he could hear the notes played and copied them. He has gone on tour with his music and won a Grammy for his first album, “The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo” in 2010. He is now touring with the Steep Canyon Rangers and Edie Brickell.

The Martins have put their stunning St. Barth Island paradise on the market. Located high in the hills of Lurin, St. Barthelemy, the sprawling 28,191 square foot tropical colonial-style home sits gracefully above the Atlantic with fabulous views from its half-acre of land. Each of the 4 bedrooms with en-suite baths and outdoor showers open to their own terrace through louvered floor-to-ceiling shutters. The master also has an outdoor shower and a hot tub on the private terrace. The entire home is island style with beamed ceilings and walls opening to views of the ocean, multi-level terraces and the two-tiered infinity pool. A perfect home for friends and family, especially for those who love to entertain.

Steve Martin’s Villa Au Soleil in St. Barth now for sale at $11,587,869.

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