The 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