By Sharon Hazard
Skater’s home, filled with touches from his travels, is for sale
LITTLE SILVER – Just imagine having a piece of property so beautifully situated near winter’s flawless ice that Olympic skating champion Sonja Henie would become a frequent visitor.
Harold Hartshorne (1891-1961) did more than imagine. The Little Silver resident, who was a pioneer in the history of ice dancing and a five-time U.S. champion, built his dream home on this property on the banks of the Shrewsbury River in Little Silver. It was there he hosted skating parties for Henie, also known as the “Pavlova of the ice,” many times.
Hartshorne even built a pond just off the home’s front entrance for the skating star to practice when the ice on the Shrewsbury was not completely smooth. Henie was known to be a perfectionist both on and off the ice. While she was celebrated for her figure skating splits and jumps, Hartshorne was known for his ice dancing routines.
In addition to the beautiful grounds and location along the river, the home was ideal for entertaining celebrities.
Officially known as the Hartshorne Mansion (it was incorrectly referred to as Boxwood Manor in a previous article), the Tudor-style structure can be seen from Seven Bridges Road, but is entered via Rumson Road at 80 Oakes Road.
Built in 1929, it is a true Tudor-style home with brick façade, slate roof and 217 leaded glass windows. Imbedded in the center of each window is a stained-glass insert depicting a symbolic historic or biblical event. In addition to the shimmering pond, the nearly 4 1/2 acres include an authentic teahouse known in England as a “folly,” a tennis court, a 40-foot dock with riparian rights and an in-ground pool.
The home’s entrance lies just beyond a small passageway that is church-like in its feel and gives a hint that something grand awaits just behind the heavily carved front door. And it does!
A long baronial hall greets visitors with a wide wooden staircase and original telephone booth decorated with hand-carved wood panels brought back from one of Hartshorne’s many European trips. A proper powder room and coat closet add to the hospitable feel of this area.
Throughout the house, remnants of Hartshorne’s excursions can be seen. The formal living room boasts a cathedral ceiling with wood beams featuring a center beam imported from the Black Forest in Germany and a massive stone fireplace. It is one of 10 fireplaces throughout the house, each with distinctively hand-carved mantels and decorative surrounds. Oak paneling and wainscoting add to a warm European ambience in every room.
Interesting nooks and crannies are scattered throughout and are used today for a copper-topped wet-bar, gardening room, linen closets, library and offices. One of the most interesting of these small spaces is the organ room overlooking the living room. It is easy to picture the Hartshornes entertaining while the organ played from a perch overlooking the guests with the sound trickling down to the adjoining formal dining room.
Other souvenirs from Hartshorne’s world travels include the dozens of sconces he obtained from steamships he traveled on while on tour. The brass, bronze and iron wall hangings still light up many of the rooms in the house.
The 11,000-square-foot home includes maid’s and chauffeur’s quarters and a billiard room. An English conservatory just off the kitchen, added in 1987, takes advantage of the 870 feet of water that cradles the property.
Designed by noted architect, Roger Harrington Bullard in his signature Old World style, the home is a testament to his talents that are evident in many grand buildings throughout the country. One in particular is located in Brookville, Long Island and is now headquarters to the Banfi Vintners.
The Hartshorne property is for sale and listed with Coldwell Banker, 17 West River Road, Rumson.