Connecticut’s very own version of Thomas Jefferson’s Charlottesville, Va., estate Monticello was a joyous labor of love for seller S. Prestley Blake, co-founder of the popular Friendly’s restaurant
chain. The completed replica proudly stands in Somers, Conn., thanks to Blake’s ambitious dream and unbreakable passion for the original historic structure. Now sold through Concierge Auctions of New York City for $2.125 million to a loving family who plans to live full-time in the residence, the one-of-a-kind, legendary project finally feels complete.
This past Tuesday’s auction created quite the buzz, as a story in the Associated Press spurred hundreds of major press placements regarding Blake’s triumphant attempt to re-create history. Results proved satisfying according to Jack Hoyt, project sales manager for Concierge Auctions, who told Mass Live that the home was undoubtedly passed “into good hands.”
Blake, who has undertaken numerous building projects on his own property in recent years, conceived the Monticello endeavor as his “swan song” upon approaching his 100th birthday. Construction began in the summer of 2013 after Blake purchased the ten-acre property, which connects to his own 80-acre property by a wooded horse trail. He tore down the church and home that existed on the land, which had been owned by Big Y supermarket co-founder Gerald D’Amour, and decided to use the property to create a visionary reproduction of the historical home so many Americans frequent and adore, and what he often refers to as “the country’s most architecturally beautiful residence.”
“The residence is Blake’s pride and joy,” explained Old Lyme agent Sherri-Lynn Milkie, who represented the property. “He always planned to sell the home to a buyer he thought to be worthy, and auction results held true to this wish.”
In order to re-create Jefferson’s plantation home, Blake worked with general contractor Raymond Laplante of Laplante Construction Inc. to precisely replicate the brick neoclassical-style exterior of Monticello, utilizing all of the same materials as Jefferson. The replication did not extend to the interior, which was built to accommodate a more modern lifestyle, yet homages exist throughout including the blue sky ceiling mural in the entryway that recalls the skylight in Jefferson’s dome room. With nearly 10,000 square feet of living space, the architectural masterpiece has a total of 11 rooms with five bedrooms and five full and four half baths.
As if his contributions to society, specifically in the ice cream-loving world, already aren’t enough, Blake has certainly left another sweet asset in the Somers community—one of which Jefferson would most definitely be proud.