Architect Alison Spear's Upstate New York Estate

Family portraits populate the great hall. The Windsor chairs are heirlooms, as are the 19th-century settees, which are clad in a Scalamandré flame stitch.

Obercreek is a testament to Spear and Reese’s generous blending of furnishings and families.  Architecturally, the house is a blend, too, having begun life as a relatively modest Federal Style dwelling in the mid-19th century. An Italianate makeover soon followed, the next step in what Reese refers to as a “long walk down the road of American styles.” In the 1920s a Colonial Revival remodel by his paternal grandparents expanded Obercreek to around 20,000 square feet and added, among other delights, a two-story portico à la Mount Vernon and an exquisite Gothic Revival chapel carved from red oak by Russian sculptor Gleb W. Derujinsky.

In developing the renovation plan, recounts Spear—who is now a senior designer at Manhattan-based Ennead Architects—it was important to establish a closer relationship between the residence and its rolling, wooded site. Though Obercreek is embraced by about 240 acres of farmland (today five passive-solar greenhouses produce 30 varieties of greens for markets, restaurants, and community farm-share clients), the building merely gazed upon the landscape and did not engage with it. So Spear came up with smart solutions, such as installing exterior French doors that invite visitors to step outside and planting an enchanting garden whose low walls are extensions of the redbrick foundation.

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