A year during which the COVID-19 pandemic drove many people outside Berkshire County to purchase homes within its borders culminated with the two largest residential transactions, occurring within two days of each other at the end of last month.
An estate on Hillsdale Road in Egremont sold for $4.52 million, and two days later, a property on Ice Glen Road in Stockbridge was sold for $6.25 million, according to documents filed at the Southern Berkshire and Middle Berkshire registries of deeds. Both transactions are among the 10 highest residential property sales in Berkshire County history, according to Eagle files.
The Ice Glen Road property is tied for third on the Eagle’s list; Southmayd Farm in Stockbridge also sold for $6.25 million, in 2017. The Egremont property is ranked seventh.
The largest residential property sale in Berkshire County history, according to Eagle files, is the $9.8 million paid for the Elm Court estate in Stockbridge in 2012. An earlier sale of Southmayd Farm, for $6.9 million in 2007, is the second property on the list. All the transactions on the Eagle’s current top 10 list have taken place since 2004.
The pandemic caused an exodus of people fleeing urban areas for more rural settings, and sales of luxury homes soared in the Berkshires last year. There were 76 sales over $1 million, compared with 27 in 2019, according to the Berkshire County Board of Realtors. In addition to the two large transactions at the end of the year, there were six sales over $3 million in 2020.
Sandra Carroll, CEO of the Realtors board, believes that the influx of out-of-towners to the Berkshires last year likely helped drive the increase in million-dollar-home sales.
“I don’t know, because I’m not in the market, [but] I imagine that created a large market pressure, so to speak, on all levels,” she said. “I’m sure with people coming into the area, it had a dynamic to it. How great it is, I don’t know.
“We used to say we have a lot inventory in Southern Berkshire because we have so much in the high end,” Carroll said. “That’s been shrinking and shrinking as the year has gone on.”
Stephen and Danielle Krupa, of Boston, the CEO of a software company and his wife, purchased the estate in Egremont, which was listed at $7.6 million in 2016 and had dropped to $5.6 million.
The entity that purchased the Ice Glen Road property is 3 Ice Glen Nominee Trust, whose trustee is Jessica Fenwick of Providence Strategic Growth Capital, a premier asset management firm with over $49 billion in aggregate capital commitments, according to its website.
Fenwick, who works out of Providence Strategic Growth’s Boston office, did not return a call seeking comment. No further information on the new owners was available. A related entity, 8 Ice Glen Road Nominee Trust, for which Fenwick also serves as trustee, purchased an adjacent property for $500,000.
The property at 3 Ice Glen Road, a 104-year-old estate that commonly is known as Villa Virginia and that has a colorful backstory, was listed at $10 million when it first hit the market in 2019, before the price dropped to $6.75 million. The previous owner, Yathrib Ltd., which had owned the property since 1997, is a corporation that was formed in the Cayman Islands, according to registry documents.
Stephen Krupa is the CEO of HealthEdge Software, of Burlington, which provides an integrated financial, administrative and clinical platform for health insurers. The Krupas plan to use the estate as a private residence, according to their attorney, Charles M. Ferris, of Great Barrington. The 7,075-square-foot main house, referred to as “Skyline” in the real estate listing, includes six bedrooms, eight bathrooms and a heated six-car garage. An elevator connects all three floors, according to the listing.
Former owners Ridley and Ksenija Whitaker built the estate from “scratch” in 2009, Ridley Whitaker said after the couple had purchased the 61-acre property located near the Massachusetts-New York line in 2004. Whitaker, a lawyer based in New York City, said he and his wife decided to sell the estate they built because they now live full time in Italy.
“My wife is an artist from Europe, my mother-in-law is 82; we decided to spend time in Italy,” said Whitaker, speaking via phone from his current residence in Trieste, on the Adriatic Sea. “It was too hard to maintain a house of that size.”
The 58-acre Ice Glen Road property’s 14-room main house, built in 1917, contains just over 11,000 square feet. A second building, which includes an apartment on the second floor, has about 5,800 square feet. The property, which has had several owners, also has been known as Villa Veracelle and Laurelmere. It is considered to be a significant example of Mediterranean Renaissance Revival architecture.
The property’s previous owners include a wealthy New York paper merchant who later bought the Stockbridge Water Co.; a man who imported his own deer to Stockbridge from another estate that he owned on the Hudson River; a patriotic songwriter descended from the first governor of Massachusetts; her daughter, who briefly was married to a czarist-era Russian prince; and a well-known Lithuania-born abstract artist.
In the 19th century, before the current estate was built, Isadora Duncan, known as the “mother of modern dance,” reportedly performed on the lawn.