Inside the $23 million mega-mansion that Yankee Candle built

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Source: CNBC

Standing at one of the five cooking islands in his kitchen, Mick Kittredge rattles off the outsized statistics for his newly listed home. Over 60 acres. Nearly 120,000 square feet of living and recreation space. A total of 14 fireplaces, 25 bathrooms, 16 bedrooms and four tennis courts.

The western Massachusetts estate is so big, in fact, Kittredge has lost count of the kitchens and bars.

“Kitchens? I think there are at least six, maybe seven?”

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“Bars? Eight at least, maybe nine? I’m not exactly sure. We’ve had pub crawls just on the property.”

Juggler Meadow, as the estate is known, is one of the hidden giants of the mega-home world. Far from the traditional mansion habitats of Greenwich, Connecticut, the Hamptons in New York or Bel Air, California, Juggler Meadow is tucked away on a back road in Leverett, Massachusetts (population: under 2,000). It was built by Kittredge’s father, Michael Kittredge II, who made his fortune as the founder of the Yankee Candle Company. Now, the property is on the market for $23 million.

Like Juggler Meadow itself, the price is part fantasyland, part function and part unapologetic excess.

The most expensive home sold over the past decade in the area, near Springfield, Massachusetts, was $2.35 million, according to Redfin. Juggler Meadow is listed at nearly 10 times that amount, but is also a rare combination of space, amenities and sports facilities. Rebuilding it today would cost well over $50 million, according to real estate experts.

“It’s incomparable to any other estate in the country,” said Johnny Hatem Jr. of Douglas Elliman, the property’s listing agent. “If someone asks me about the price being high, I say ‘try to build it today for $23 million’.'”

Source: CNBC

The mystery of why anyone would build Juggler Meadow in the first place starts with Kittredge’s father, Michael Kittredge, who grew up in nearby South Hadley. When he was 16, he made a candle from crayons as a present for his mother, and a neighbor was so impressed she bought one. Kittredge began making more, and in the early 1970s founded Yankee Candle Company.

The business grew and in 1984, Kittredge bought a small three-bedroom colonial home in Leverett for $144,000. As Yankee Candle expanded, along with Kittredge’s wealth, so did the house. Wings and floors were added. A tennis court was built. More land was purchased.

By the late 1990s, Yankee Candle had become the biggest scented candle company in the county. Kittredge sold the company for about $600 million to Forstmann Little & Co., the private equity firm.

Source: CNBC

With the flood of cash and a non-compete clause that prevented him from launching another candle company for years, Kittredge built his dream life. He bought homes in Jupiter Island, Florida and Nantucket, Massachusetts. He bought a yacht and sailed with his family around the world. He built a collection of 80 cars, many of them rare Porsches and Ferraris. And he amassed and a wine collection so large it needed two cellars.

Most of all, he expanded his house with the aim of entertaining his growing crowd of friends and family.

“The house had eight different additions put on throughout the years,” says Mick Kittredge. “(Dad) would say ‘It would be great if we had an area to get together with friends.’ Or ‘We should have a bigger room to have a Christmas party’.”

Source: CNBC

The main house ballooned to 25,000 square feet, with a formal dining room, great hall, lavish master suite and offices. Down a winding driveway is an outdoor pool and pool house with a kitchen and guest quarters. Two “car barns” for the car collection are as spotless as museums. Brass-plated signs throughout the property lead to a large sign that reads “The Spa,” a 55,000 square-foot playground and party space.

The Spa includes bowling alleys, a billiards room, a two-story arcade and massage rooms. An indoor tennis court can be converted into an auditorium and dance hall with a full concert stage, where the Doobie Brothers and Hall & Oats gave private concerts.

“We’ve had parties with over 400 people in here,” Kittredge says.

Source: CNBC

The centerpiece of the Spa is an indoor water park that’s always a steamy 89 degrees, even in the cold Massachusetts winters. It has towering palm trees, rock caves and grottos with flickering mood lights, and vaulted ceilings painted with gold clouds and a cerulean sky, modeled after the Bellagio in Las Vegas. There are dining tables on a stone patio, with a kitchen nearby to prepare the “pool menu.” The men’s and women’s locker rooms have dozens of lockers, along with changing rooms and showers.

“On any given day, we’d have 20 or 30 people in the Spa,” Mick Kittredge said.

Source: CNBC

When asked why his father built such a massive playground in western Massachusetts, rather than decamping to more popular millionaire haunts like Palm Beach or Los Angeles, Kittredge says: “Western Mass was home for him. He grew up here. He built his business here. His friends were here, his family were here.”

In 2010, Michael Kittredge joined his son’s fast-growing candle business and together launched Kringle Candle Co., which continues to expand. “He saw what I was doing, realized how much fun it was and wanted to get back into the business,” Mick Kittredge said.

In 2012, Michael Kittredge had a stroke, which limited his movement and speech. He died in 2019 from liver failure at the age of 67.

Source: CNBC

The Nantucket home sold for $19 million in 2019. Mick Kittredge said he’s selling Juggler Meadow because “it’s too big for one person. You try vacuuming 120,000 square feet. No really, I want to see this property used to its full potential.”

Hatem said the ideal buyer for Juggler Meadow is a family that loves entertaining and recreation as much as Kittredge. But given its size and scale, a more likely buyer is a resort company or college that could use the entire campus.

“The opportunities are endless because you have so much space here and so many things that can keep you constantly entertained.”

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