NEW MARLBOROUGH -- It was originally built more than 100 years ago as an estate where its owner could raise Hackney ponies and Jersey cattle.
It's also been used as a kennel to raise championship canines, served as a private residence, housed two schools and been operated as both a resort and an inn and spa.
Now there's a new use planned for the Mepal Manor property on Route 57 -- a high-end residential substance abuse rehab facility.
Mepal Manor LLC, of Delaware, associated with the Center for Motivation and Change, a private substance abuse practice in New York City, recently purchased the 187.6-acre site for $4.1 million, according to documents on file at the Southern Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Great Barrington.
It is by far the largest property transaction in the Berkshires this year, according to Sandra Carroll, the president and CEO of the Berkshire County Board of Realtors. The previous high was a $2.55 million sale, also in New Marlborough, in January.
In late June, the new owners received a special permit from the Board of Selectmen that allows them to make physical improvements to a building on the property, which was formerly known as Mepal Manor and Spa. The permit also allows Mepal Manor LLC to operate a "retreat" for adult clients over the age of 18 "who have substance abuse and compulsive behavior issues."
Will Regan, listed in registry documents as a member of Mepal Manor LLC, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. But Select Board Chairman Nat Yohalem said that based on the group's presentation to the town, the new owners plan to use the property to operate a 30-day residential rehab program for substance abusers.
Yohalem believes the facility will have a "high-end" clientele.
"They're putting a lot of money into it," Yohalem said. "It's a grand old house. It has a porch with a beautiful view of the mountains and has rooms and guest rooms. That will be their primary facility."
According to the property's former owner, Brad Wagstaff of New Marlborough, CMC plans to open its new residential rehab facility in January.
"They're a very well-respected rehab group," said Wagstaff, who purchased Mepal (pronounced "maple") Manor in 2000. He and his wife, Leslie Warren, who owned the Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough during the 1970s and 1980s, also own Gedney Farm, which borders the Mepal property.
CMC was founded in 2003, and according to Wagstaff, had been running walk-in storefront operations in both New York City and White Plains, N.Y. He said the organization purchased the property because it needed a facility to provide residential treatment programs.
The property includes a 12-room building that was last used as an inn, and an adjacent spa building that was used to hold classes when the estate served as a school. According to the special permit, Mepal Manor LLC plans to expand the inn to 13 rooms, and provide a handicap-accessible room on the ground floor. When the house was sold in 1942, it contained 25 rooms, 7 baths and 10 fireplaces.
Wagstaff and Miller operated Mepal Manor and Spa as Willow Creek Partners LLP. Wagstaff said they purchased the property in the fall of 2000, but decided to put it on the market six to eight months ago because it was becoming too much to run.
"I had three places," he said.
According to the real estate website Curbed.com, at one point the property was being offered for $3.6 million. Wagstaff said he had two other offers for the property that fell through, including one from a group in Georgia that was interested in operating a hotel.
Mepal Manor was originally known as the Bloodgood Estate. It was built in 1907 by Hildreth Bloodgood, a Wall Street banker and sportsman, who imported and bred Hackney driving ponies from England so they could compete in horse shows in the United States. Bloodgood, who died in 1918, named the main house after one of his prize winning horses, the Star of Mepal.
The property remained in the Bloodgood family until 1942, but before it was sold served as a kennel operated by the American Kennel Club's first president, George Greer, who bred, sold and showed cocker spaniels. In later years, it served as a private residence and a resort. A special education school for teenagers was also located on the property for 30 years.
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Big deals ...
The top five real estate deals in Berkshire County:
1. Elm Court on Old Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, former property of Robert and Sonya Berle, sold for $9.8 million in July 2012.
2. Southmayd Farm on Glendale Middle Road, Stockbridge, former property of Charles and Carol Shulze, sold for $6.9 million in January 2007.
3. Eastover Resort and Conference Center on East Street, Lenox, former property of Dorothy "Ticki" Winsor and Betsy Kelly, sold for $5 million in March 2010.
4. Mepal Manor on Route 57, New Marlborough, former property of Bradford Wagstaff and Leslie Miller, sold for $4.1 million in 2013.
5. Rock Ridge estate on Tyringham Road, Monterey, former property of Robert and Virginia Duffy, sold for $4.05 million in April 2007.
-- Source: Eagle files