A home that was the studio of an exiled Soviet artist, the residence of college presidents, and a home for boys is on the market for the first time in more than three decades.
“It’s basically a bunker. I mean, even in the interior, walls are brick, so the structure is quite sound,” says the listing agent, Alan Weaver.
“It’s quite a sound building, but it is a shell—there’s no kitchen and no bathrooms. It’s 7,300 square feet of basically raw space.”
Weaver estimates that a full restoration will run about a million dollars.
The seller is Mihail Chemiakin, a famous Russian artist who at one time was subjected to mandatory psychiatric treatment because his ideals and artwork did not conform to those of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet government exiled him in 1971, and he went to Paris. Eventually, he moved to New York and bought this home in 1987.
During restoration work on the home, the attic and roof caught fire.
“It basically destroyed the interior, because the roof collapsed onto the second floor,” Weaver explains.
The building has a new roof, he says, but the area that was the turret has a hole in it, the home’s only major structural problem.
Chemiakin used the lower floors of the main house as his studio. He lived from 1998 until 2008 in a separate building on the property, once an auditorium, and then he moved to France.
A total of six structures lie on the 12-acre property, including four houses.
While living on the property, Chermiakin created works in a variety of media. They can be seen all over the world, including inside Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, in New York’s SoHo, in Venice, and in Moscow.
Many supplies, sculptures, and other works are still in the home, but are not part of the sale.
“It all gets packed up and shipped to France,” Weaver says.
The agent told us there aren’t many interior photos of the main home, because it’s dotted with pieces of unpublished artwork, and Chermiakin wouldn’t allow Weaver to take any photos that would become public.
“Everyone who wants to see the house wants it with the artwork, but no,” he explains. “There is one mural on the property that he did that will stay at the property, but not all of the sculptures.”
Several large sculptures on the property will wind up in France, but the area would make a great art walk for the new buyer, Weaver suggested.
In the 1990s, the artist began visiting Russia again and exhibiting his art and working in theaters there.
The auditorium on the property was once used for activities for the boys’ boarding school and is in pretty good condition, Weaver says. The outdoor patio on the auditorium contains several artistic and architectural elements that are part of the sale.
The main house is the only building that remains of Claverack College, a school that operated from 1779 until it closed in 1902. After that, the building served as a home for boys, an orphanage known as the Lulu Thorley Lyons Home, as well as a summer retreat for disabled children.
The home is on a main road, but is nevertheless secluded.
“You’re right in the hamlet of Claverack, which is an historic little hamlet,” Weaver says. “There’s really nothing there—there’s a post office and a gas station.”
Weaver says that many people have looked at the property with the idea of developing it.
“It’s a challenge, because all the buildings need work in some form or another,” he says.
“It is a daunting task, and I’m not going to say it’ll be easy, but I think it would be worth it for someone that has a vision to do something with the property. It’s well worth the investment.”