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Chester NJ home built by the founder of Time and Life listed


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A 50-acre estate in Chester Township developed by 20th-century media mogul Henry R. Luce was listed last month for $5.8 million.

The estate, financed nearly 90 years ago by Luce, the founder of Time, Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated magazines, is centered around a 13,820-square-foot stone mansion. Complete with a soaring turret, the house is a great mix of old and new, said listing agent Arlene Gonnella of Weichert Realtors.

Although the historic home was built in the mid-1930s, it was updated with modern amenities around the turn of the century. The exterior is reminiscent of a French castle. The interior is defined by oversized rooms, vaulted and beamed ceilings and arched French doors.

“It’s the kind of place you have to see in person to fully appreciate,” Gonella said. “It’s beyond breathtaking.”

Located at 1901 Route 206, the 10-bedroom, nine-bathroom home sits a few hundred feet from a wall of trees along the highway. As with many North Jersey estates, the surrounding grounds have been subdivided from the original estate for more luxurious homes. However, it is far from a busy area. The remaining site still covers almost 50 hectares. All but three of the acres are agricultural land assessed for property taxes, county data show.

Luce purchased the property in June 1933, a few weeks after arriving in the area over the summer with his wife of 10 years, born Lila Ross Hotz, according to newspaper reports. The two, who married the same year Luce launched the groundbreaking news magazine Time with Yale classmate Brit Hadden, spent that summer nearby. They rented the home of future New Jersey Racing Commission member William V. Griffin on Holland Road in Far Hills, just south of their new 420-acre property, The Bernardsville News reported in June 1933.

Named “Lu Shan,” the Chinese words for “road” and “mountain,” the estate was designed for Chinese-born Luce and his wife by Manhattan architectural firm Adams & Prentice. Led by one of Luce’s Yale classmates, Lewis Greenleaf Adams, the firm also designed the Richard B. Byrd School in Glen Rock, the much larger William R. Cotter Federal Building in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, and House 21 on the 1939 New York World’s Fair. “City of Tomorrow.”

However, the creation with the tiled roof never became Luce’s large summer house. Shortly after the mansion’s completion in 1935, Luce married writer Clare Boothe, a former editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair and a future U.S. ambassador to Italy. Luce donated the estate to his ex-wife Hotz.

Hotz used the property as a weekend retreat, dividing her time between her Park Avenue apartment and Lu Shan, where her sons lived when they were not in boarding school. The property was not just a retreat at the time, but had a fully functioning and fairly productive dairy farm at the time, according to several newspaper reports.

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The estate became a wedding venue in 1939, when Hotz remarried. She and her new husband, Sewell Tyng, attorney for Thomas E. Dewey, then governor of New York, spent most of the next two years in Ecuador, where Tyng had business interests. Two years after leaving South America, they divorced.

Hotz maintained friendly relations with her former husbands, especially Luce, kept their last name and formed a bond with Boothe, according to a biography maintained by Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library. Hotz was known as a socialite, had a wide social circle, and supported a variety of charities, including the Berkshire Farm Center, the Henry Street Settlement, and the Spence-Chapin adoption service.

She once reported attending 36 balls in 36 weeks, according to her obituary in the New York Times.

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Lila Ross Hotz Luce Tyng, a poet, ballroom dancer and avid world traveler, lived mainly in Lu Shan in her later years. She died there in 1999 at the age of 100.

The property was subsequently purchased by Edward A. Cantor. A prominent New Jersey real estate developer and manager in the second half of the 20th century, Cantor became something of a celebrity in his wintering grounds around Palm Beach, Florida, thanks to his 200-foot yacht, The Other Woman. In the early 1990s, Cantor’s boat was the largest and fastest aluminum-hulled motor sailing yacht in the world, according to a 1992 report by The Baltimore Sun.

Lu Shan and the surrounding 50 acres are currently owned by the estate of Cantor’s third wife, Jane Cantor, county records show. Nearly all of it is covered by an agricultural land conservation easement purchased by the Morris County Agriculture Development Board in 2008 for more than $2 million, records show.