Peapack-Gladstone, NJ, September 2016—A vision is realized and a legend reborn, as construction begins at the historic Natirar Mansion, located within the 500-acre estate, set in the Somerset Hills. The celebrated forty-room Tudor mansion, completed in 1912, is being painstakingly restored to its palatial splendor with the addition of an opulent new ballroom being built adjacent to the mansion. This stunning new venue for gala events and exclusive meetings will open and be available in June 2017.
The restored mansion and new ballroom will be the centerpiece of a singular new resort and private club complex. Designed to become one of the nation’s finest resorts, the reimagined property will ultimately include private residential villas, a boutique hotel and spa in conjunction with the existing pool, tennis courts and fitness and wellness center, surrounded by 400 acres of riding, walking and biking trails.
Work has already begun in restoring the mansion’s copper and slate roof and exterior decorative fixtures. Repointing of the brick walls has begun, filling in gaps with new mortar. The interiors, with their fine oak paneling, molded plaster ceilings, period lighting fixtures and lavishly carved stone fireplaces, are being carefully returned to their original Tudor elegance, as envisioned by the noted Boston architect, Guy Lowell. A member of Massachusetts’ prominent Lowell family, he designed not only the main residence and principal outbuildings, but the estate’s lay-out and landscape. Lowell’s most famous works include the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the New York County Court House in Manhattan.
The Tudor–style building pays homage to the era’s most significant building, Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace. Though much smaller in scale, the Natirar Mansion’s stone masonry, intricate iron gates, graceful arches, heraldic carvings and leaded glass windows are clearly fit for royalty. His late Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco apparently agreed, purchasing the mansion in 1983.
The new resort will ultimately be a luxurious haven for guests and club members who want to relax and rejuvenate amidst a spectacular setting that offers the finest in dining, accommodations and a commitment to wellness and sustainability, according to its founder, Bob Wojtowicz of Warren, New Jersey.
“The grounds and parklands of Natirar have always been an important resource for the community,” Wojtowicz says. “When the resort is completed, it will be a financial and social asset to the community, the county and the state, generating tourist dollars, tax revenues and jobs.” It will also be a prominent venue for events and executive conferences, Wojtowicz notes.
Natirar already boasts one of New Jersey’s most acclaimed restaurants, Ninety Acres. Built in the estate’s restored carriage house, this exceptional facility includes a cooking school, a private club and a 12-acre farm that supplies fresh organically produced vegetables, herbs, berries as well as lamb, pork and egg-laying chickens for the restaurant. The stylish and striking interiors were designed by the Rockwell Group, the acclaimed architecture and design firm, headed by the award-winning architect, David Rockwell. Rich woods, brick walls, high ceilings, Palladian windows, wrought iron accents and original wood sculptures and art works, made from trees on the property, provide both drama and warmth, in keeping with the building’s history, bucolic setting and commitment to sustainability.
The “Table at the Farm” menu spans three distinctive dining experiences. Guests can opt for an a la carte or prix fixe menu in the Main Dining or Bar Dining areas or feast at the convivial Communal Table. For a truly exceptional culinary experience, the Chefs provide Bring Me Food, a personalized tasting menu based on individual preferences and ingredients available fresh from the farm and prepared in the open kitchen.
The restaurant and cooking school are now available for special events, both inside the restored carriage house or outdoors surrounded by the farm, amid the green hills and sparkling river of the Natirar estate.
The estate and the Ninety Acres restaurant are already a popular wedding venue. “The renewed mansion and elegant ballroom will add a spectacular new dimension to our events and wedding portfolio,” Wojtowicz says, noting that several weddings have already been booked at The Mansion for June 2017.
Top-notch professionals have been engaged to realize this exceptional vision. Benchmark Hospitality International®, a recognized global leader in the management and marketing of resorts, hotels and conference centers is now advising on operations, design and sales and marketing. The Philadelphia architectural firm of Coscia Moos is designing the new ballroom that adjoins the mansion. Studio Hillier of Princeton will create plans for 24 private residential villas on the property. Smith/Firestone Associates (SFA Design) of Los Angeles will oversee the interior design and restoration of the mansion.
Somerset County operates 401 acres of Natirar as a bucolic county park, spanning three towns in New Jersey’s exclusive equestrian country. These include Peapack-Gladstone, Far Hills and Bedminster. The remaining 90 acres are leased to Bob Wojtowicz.
Natirar is secluded, yet easily reached from Routes 287 and 78. The estate is less than an hour from New York City and 90 minutes from Philadelphia. Newark Liberty International Airport is just 40 minutes by car.
A History of Natirar – Gilded Age Glamour, Royal Residence, Secluded Retreat Noted for its majestic architecture, opulent interiors and Gilded Age glamour, the Natirar Mansion and its surrounding buildings were designed to provide a haven for those in need as well as for the wealthy couple that created this stunning retreat in 1912. Kate Macy-Ladd was heiress to a Massachusetts shipping and whaling fortune. A devout Quaker, Mrs. Ladd and her husband Walter lived quietly, without the lavish entertaining and displays of wealth that marked the lives of many of America’s richest families. In 1908, Mrs. Ladd established a convalescent home for single women in a cottage on the estate. After Mr. Ladd’s death in 1933, the Kate Macy Ladd Fund assumed control of the property and the convalescent facility moved into the mansion.
In 1983, the fund was disbanded, its assets disbursed to five different educational institutions. The late King Hassan II of Morocco purchased the estate as a residence for his children attending Princeton University. King Hassan’s son, Mohammed VI, sold the property in 2003 to Somerset County, New Jersey, represented by its Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Later in 2003, the County leased 90 acres of the property, including all the estate’s core buildings, to local resident, Bob Wojtowicz. He began an ambitious renovation plan that included conversion of the estate’s carriage house into a facility that includes the Ninety Acres restaurant, a private club, cooking school and farm.
The new Natirar will combine modern luxury with a profound respect for the estate’s history and mission. “For more than a century, Natirar has served as a haven of serenity, stunning natural beauty and recreational opportunities,” says Bob Wojtowicz. “We will continue the Ladds’ vision for the estate, and bring the property to new and spectacular levels. Natirar will be all that it was and more – a place of retreat and renewal, of regard for nature and sustainability, a true resource for our community and our state.”