There are some homes that were made to be stars, to show off their crenellations and sweeping staircases, their wrought iron gates and well-appointed rooms. Thayer Estate was one of those, born out of the mind of a wealthy philanthropist and sportsman, but destined for the big screen. Thanks to Greta Gerwig’s much-anticipated adaptation of Little Women, this mansion has officially become an actor (pompous inflection required), and has shared the stage—and its grounds—with such luminaries as Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, and you if you feel so inclined to shell out a measly $2.5 million for a soon-to-be-famous country manor.
Imagine making a daily grand entrance down this descending red carpet. This estate—there’s no other word for it—in Lancaster, Massachusetts was built in 1903 by architect Guy Lowell, who was also responsible for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, to serve as the summer home of the wealthy New England Thayer family. But things took a more medieval turn starting with its next owner.
Confession, anyone? This room may look more tea-time than repent-your-sins time, but that belies the home’s second act as a retreat for the Catholic Church. In 1985, the Catholics decided to move on, and the new owners turned the mansion’s modest 21,802 square feet into the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center, a meditation destination.
While you’re warming your hands in front of this fireplace, imagine the likes of George Harrison and Elizabeth Taylor standing next to you. It’s not that far-fetched—the two celebs were among the A-listers who came to the Thayer Estate during its wellness phase to clear their minds and their chakras.
One of the estate’s caretakers, Martha Colby, told the Sentinel & Enterprise that “living here is like stepping back into the past.” May we suggest you fully embrace this time-travel spirit and reinstate an official ball season? Invite your neighbors from near and far to twirl the night away. Hoop skirts, decorative hand fans and a live brass band are required.
All commoners who aspire to be members of the landed gentry know that having a single mansion on your vast estate doesn’t quite cut it. Never fear, this property is also home to a carriage house, though one that will set you back an additional $500,000. (Meet our least favorite phrase in the English language: carriage house not included.)
An estate like this is as close as you’ll get to living the Downton Abbey life in the U.S. Though as the Crawley’s have taught us, it takes more than a love of a certain lifestyle to inhabit a massive mansion. Like all stately homes of a certain vintage, Thayer Estate is a little faded around the edges and requires a heavy does of TLC—and more than a small amount of cheddar—to bring it up to snuff and keep it there.
This is a lovely room, but don’t fret if it’s not your cup of tea. There are 46 other bedrooms for you to choose from. (If you also opt to acquire the carriage house, that number takes a giant leap to 72.)
It’s hard to walk that fine line between privacy and prime location in our increasingly crowded world, but Thayer Estate has handled the dilemma quite nicely. Only an hour away from Boston, this property is well-positioned to take advantage of the big city, while also maintaining its solitude by way of a private country plot hidden from the main road. There is no better way to deter unwanted visitors than by making your driveway half-a-mile long.
Gaze out your window and admire the fact that the lands as far as you can see are yours to enjoy. If you are the reincarnation of the original owner Bayard Thayer, this might mean inviting a gang of innocent animals to live on the property in order to entertain your next hunting party. #nofreerent
Snow is a good look on the estate, and not just because it recalls those wintery scenes in Little Women. According to Colby’s husband Alan, it takes nine hours to mow the Thayer Estate grounds, which means snow-covered wonderland is about to become your preferred season on the property. Although at $2.5 million, this house is practically a steal (the original asking price in 2012 was a whopping $16 million), so you can afford to pay the current caretakers and then some.