WASHINGTON -- Bucksteep Manor, an iconic 19th century estate that most recently served as a vacation center, has been sold to a New York City-based nonprofit that assists people with special needs.
Family Unity International Inc. of Staten Island, N.Y. has purchased the 300-acre estate on Washington Mountain Road, and a small adjoining parcel, for more than $1.5 million, according to documents filed at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Pittsfield.
Retired Berkshire County Probate Court Judge Rudolph A. Sacco and his family had owned Bucksteep Manor for almost 43 years. Sacco and his son Robert C. Sacco, an attorney in Holyoke, were the members of Bucksteep Nominee Trust, the property’s ownership group.
The manor property itself was sold for $1.53 million. Family United International also purchased a small adjoining parcel from two other Sacco family members for $3,600 according to documents filed at the registry.
Rudolph Sacco, and his late wife, Kay, turned Bucksteep Manor into a family vacation center after purchasing the then-vacant property from the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts in October 1971, according to Eagle files. The Saccos had begun leasing the property two years earlier and combined it with Camp Karu, which they operated on an adjoining parcel.
Sacco, who retired in 1997, has eight children and 18 grandchildren. Bucksteep holds great sentimental value to his family. "Everywhere you look up there there’s a memory," he said. But Sacco said at his age the demands and upkeep of the property had become too much to handle. The property contains a large manor house, and several outlying buildings.
"We had such great times up there," said Sacco, who is 87. "The kids loved it and were sentimentally attached. But we operate by chapters, and this is a chapter where we’ve got to get rid of property. It takes effort, commitment and money."
Representatives of Family Unity International did not respond to a telephone call or an email message seeking comment. According to information on various Internet sites, Family United International was founded in 2003 and is classified as a 501(c)3 organization by the Internal Revenue Service, which makes it eligible to receive charitable contributions. The organization benefits human services, with a focus on family services programs.
According to its website, Family Unity International’s mission is "to empower people with special needs -- both young and old -- to live up to their best potential."
Bucksteep Manor was originally built in 1897 for use as a vacation home by wealthy New York City attorney George F. Crane, who named it after an English castle where he had spent summers with his wife. The Cranes deeded the property to the diocese in 1927, six years before George Crane’s death.
The diocese used Bucksteep as a site for recreational activities, but gradually moved them elsewhere, and by the mid-1960s, the property was vacant. The diocese sold Bucksteep to the Saccos after the property’s caretaker, David Watson, died.
Under the Saccos’ ownership, Bucksteep Manor also served as a cross-country ski facility and as the site for outdoor music concerts, company outings, class reunions, family get-togethers and birthday parties. It was also a popular wedding spot.
"We had 19 weddings up there last year," Rudolph Sacco said.
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