So, I suppose this entry is “off-topic” in that it’s outside of my usual body of work, but I could group this with my “Crazy Alumni Profiles” entries.
A few minutes’ northwest of Albany is a little hamlet called Rexford. Located in the suburban town of Clifton Park, Rexford has a fire station, a yacht club, and not a whole lot else. If you’re approaching from the southeast, you’ll notice something else facing the Mohawk River – a wrought-iron gate to a huge-ass mansion. A mansion called Llenroc.
According to the Albany Times Union, it has a helipad, fifteen fireplaces, an indoor swimming pool shaped like a sailboat, and gilded 24-karat gold ceilings. It sits on 12 acres on the Mohawk River, and was built for a price “rumored to be around $32.5 million.” The house was built in 1992 by insurance magnate Albert Lawrence. Lawrence was a “devoted Cornell alum” who modeled his house after Willard Straight Hall, and had the exterior laid with Llenroc stone. Of course, to top it all off, he had the estate christened “Llenroc”, just like the name we’ve given to Ezra’s old estate/current Delta Phi frternity house.
The story of the house is not a happy one, however. Lawrence filed for bankruptcy protection in 1997, after his Schenectady-based company collapsed. He lost his mansion to foreclosure, but he and his wife were still allowed to live in the house until it was sold off, and they ran it as a (massive) bed and breakfast inn. However, his dirty dealings from his insurance days earned him a 20-year prison sentence in 2000, and he passed away in jail two years later. The house was bought in 2003 by a commodities trader for a mere $1.4 million, who then tried to sell it again four years later for $12.9 million. Unfortunately, the demand for mega-houses in the Albany area is rather slim, especially with the Knolls Atomic Power Lab just across the river in plain view. A hotelier named Mathai Kolath George offered to buy the estate, but he and his son were killed in a plane crash before any deal was finalized. Kolath supposedly planned to try and sell the house for $30 million. A limited liability company (with the dubious name of Power Angels LLC) bought the mansion for $1.9 million in late 2009. The house has remained out of the news since.
I think that funding scholarships would have been better, but to each their own.