Dunnellen Hall, Greenwich

January, 2009 by Ray Bendici

dunnellen_hall_aufmThe Damned Story: Many times when one thinks of a "cursed" and "Connecticut" the mind immediately goes to lonely, abandoned places like Dudleytown, allegedly a site of much suffering. Rarely does a location steeped in wealth, affluence and luxury seem capable of bringing doom and woe to those who live there, but such is the case of Dunnellen Hall.

Built atop a hill in 1918 overlooking 26 acres of the most expensive real estate in Connecticut -- and arguably, the United States -- this 28-room Jacobean mansion has over 21,000 square feet of living space as well as a marble reflecting pool, a 52-foot indoor pool/winter garden and "sweeping views of Long Island Sound." Oh, and it seemingly has brought bad -- if not downright disastrous -- fortune to almost everyone who has owned it.

Originally completed for a mere $1 million by Daniel Grey Reid, it was a gift to his daughter and her family who lived there until 1950 without incident. It was then sold to steel magnate Loring Washburn, who was the first to experience bad luck as his financial empire quickly dissipated after he took possession of the property. By 1963, he was in complete ruin, so the property was taken from him and sat vacant for a few years.

It was then bought by former showgirl Gregg Sherwood Dodge Moran in 1966, who sold it two years later to financier Jack R. Dick. Some like to connect Moran to the curse as her ex-husband eventually would shoot himself in the head a decade later, but I know more than one woman who wouldn't consider an ex-husband killing himself a "curse."

Three years later, Dick was indicted by a grand jury for shady financial dealings and died in 1974 before his case went to trial.

The next owner was Ravi Tikkoo, who before the purchase had made his fortune in oil supertankers; less than a decade later, he had also gone bust, forcing him to sell the property to the current owners, a couple  you may have even heard of: Harry and Leona Helmsley

The Helmsleys purchased it in 1983 for $11 million as a summer home. It was the subsequent renovation work at Dunnellen Hall -- and the ensuing charges of tax evasion and eventual criminal trials -- which began the Helmsley's decline which included Harry's death and Leona's 18-month stretch in the slammer. After serving her sentence, Leona moved in year-round, living there until her death in August 2007.


Dunnellen Hall was sold in October 2010 for $35 million, but after some brief renovations and less than a year, it is currently back on the market, recently marked down -- if you have the cash and you're not afraid of curses or potential financial ruin, it can be yours for a cool $42.9 million.

Otherwise, Dunnellen Hall and its alleged curse will wait for its next victims . . . er, residents.

Our Damned Experience: Oh sure -- we're usually hanging out in the back country of Greenwich, going from mansion to mansion, club to club, living the high life of socialites, so Dunnellen Hall is like our home away from home.

And if you believe that, then we'll let you have the place for a cut-rate $40 million. Just make the checks out to "Damned CT" and after it clears, you can pick up the keys at the gate . . .

If You Go: Let's face it: Google Earth or the video from Christie's Great Estates is about as close as any of us are getting to Dunnellen Hall. It's located at 521 Round Hill Road in Greenwich, but you won't see anything but the front gates from the street -- unless you have a spare $43 million and can get a real estate agent to show you around. And if that's the case, don't forget your good friends here at Damned CT!

Edit: I feel like a bit of a creeper doing this, but here you go... -- Kate

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Submitted by torresongs (not verified) on
Gregg Sherwood Dodge married Daniel D. Moran in May of 1965. She was 41 he was 29. She was the aforementioned showgirl and he was a New York City cop who became a Palm Beach realtor. It was his first marriage, her third. Although estranged from Dodge at his death in 1963, Gregg claimed that she collected something like $9,000,000 in out-of-court settlements of suits against his estate and his mother (for trying to break up their marriage). Someone needs to write a book or movie about her. It would make a great Lifetime movie: "Adventures of the Original Cougar"!

I love a really good ghost story--especially if it's true or based or inspired by true events, like this one and the Amityville House--you know the one I'm talking about. Yeah, that one. I know that the book and TV movie are allegedly greatly exaggerated, but what a story, regardless. I recently came across this one and I like it, too! I'm a principal real estate broker and yes, if I get a listing like these two, yes, I will warn every client I take to see the house. I don't need a commission that badly...not enough to sacrifice my "immortal soul to eternal damnation." Well, time to go. See ya later!

Submitted by DarbyH (not verified) on
14 June 2011...It appears that said curse remains in place. It is back on th emarket for 42 million $ as of now. The owner, a hedge funder, apparently began working on the restoration, but is running out of money and had to relist it. Some work was accomplished, like removing the kitchen and bathrooms, fixing the roof & gutters...just generally un-doing the Helmsley-ness of it...but when he bought it for $32 million he was flush...now...not so much...conclude what you will, I think the curse is intact.

Submitted by Jeanne Young (D... (not verified) on
Sorry you think the home is cursed, I completely remolded the home for the Tikkoo's the oil tanker family, it took 2 years, was sold because his wife ran off with the chauffer, he returned to London is still in the money. Leona purchased it and all the interior furnishings I put in, even to the monogramed china brought from Europe. After the Mrs left he lived there for about a year or so before returing to London. I put in the 2nd swimming pool outside the breakfast room and remolded the garage to house the chauffer and his family to live on the property, after this chauffer left with the wife, his family moved back to Queens where they came from. Yes this house would make a great movie as before there were 3 movies produced there and both Sonja Henny and Lana Turner married brothers and they both lived there. I would love to have the chance to help the new owner put this beautiful home back into shape for them, I think they could be happy, just walk through it, it's like a castle, ie: your home is your castle.

A house full of spirits, different things happened there. If someone wanted to buy the house must be cleaned. If interested I can be helpful. Souls are there a lot and it's my job is to drain into the light. Sorry for English I'm an American

Submitted by J Smith (not verified) on
After reading the stories and shows about this home, I truly believe and have a feeling that the curse is true but only for those who are, shall we say dishonest. This home was built out of love and those who are dishonest only disgrace it by living there. So yes if there is a curse it's the positive energy of the house defeating those who live there that do not posses love and devotion in their hearts.

Submitted by Brantley (not verified) on
Jeanne Young, are these pictures furnished the furnishings you did? Or is this the new owners? I am a designer too and would love to see photos of how it looked after your work! I love good taste and classical style, this home had both! I used to frequent the Palace Hotel but they are completely ruining the rooms with the modern redecorating they are currently undergoing, if I wanted an austere cold environment I would stay at the W!

Submitted by Jeanne Young (D... (not verified) on
Brantley: Yes the furnishings you see in the house are my work. I completly remolded the walls etc to put in new heating and aircondition. I have a photo album of the house before and after. If you would like to e-mail me I would be happy to show it to you some time. [email protected]

Submitted by G (not verified) on
The previous owner never lived there. Hardly set foot in it even. Money was never an issue either.

Submitted by td (not verified) on
used to do landscaping here, for about 2 years. the place is really neat, lots of old stonework and statues. the property is massive, mostly grass and some ancient looking trees. its just a place that makes you think you might stub your toe on something really old. unfortunately nothing creepy or supernatural. maybe the haunted part is only for the upper class.

Submitted by Connecticut Lovejoy (not verified) on
I am wondering if anybody killed themselves or killed other people there.

Submitted by david lyons (not verified) on
I am Daniel Moran's cousin and just to put it straight Gregg and Daniel were married at the time of his death and I dont appreciate your sarcastic comment "who wouldn't consider an ex-husband killing himself a "curse. "... Remove it.

Submitted by Mark Andreas (not verified) on
I grew up across the street from what was at that time the Washburn estate and was good friends with the caretakers son whose family lived in one end of the carriage house/garage. When the estate was vacated I searched the house and found an unlocked window, gained access, opened another first floor window, and have free run of the house until I went to Virginia for high school in the fall of 1965. My best friend and I used to skateboard down the main hallway and roamed all through that empty house. The property was ours as well as down the hill there was the lake and boathouse and we rowed one of the boats all over the lake. The swimming pool was empty and stay just below the main house by the outdoor tennis courts. In the upper floors of the house there was an indoor tennis court and a gymnasium. The house and the property were hours of fun for a couple of 12 year old boys as Round Hill Road was so far out of downtown Greenwich.

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Submitted by LeDerpMaster (not verified) on
Woah, I never realized that there was a haunted house near my home and hometown 0.0 creepy

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