Whales Out of Water: Five Manses in the Middle of Nowhere

Curbed
Photo: Black Canyon Casa

When developer Top Chapman decided to build a 4,800-square-foot luxury home on a so-called inholding—a private land holding completely surrounded by public parkland—within Colorado's Gunnison National Park, he may have enraged conservationists, but, historically, he was hardly alone in his decision to build extravagantly in the most remote of locations. Chapman's 33-acre estate boasts luxuries like a neon-lit swimming pool, infinity hot tub, and a helicopter pad, all right on the edge of the majestic Black Canyon. Chapman, who purchased a 112-acre parcel and subdivided it, stands to make a hefty profit off his investment if he finds a buyer who loves picking up groceries in a helicopter. He's already sold off 78 acres for $2.1M, and has the canyon-front house listed for $7.5M. What'd he pay for the land in 2010? Just $240K.

Photos: paradisexpress/wiki

↑ William Randolph Hearst is well known for his sprawling Hearst Castle, on the California coast near San Simeon, but he also funded the construction of a far more remote outpost in the inland woods of Northern California known as Wyntoon. Built on property that once belonged to Hearst's mother's attorney, the sprawling compound came to include more than a dozen structures, most constructed in the style of European mountain chalets. Hearst was passionate about the place, but probably didn't visit very frequently, as the woodsy escape is located some 250 miles north of Sacramento, the nearest sizable city.

↑ Real estate investor Donald G. Abbey is no Hearst, but he's not far off, either. The guy loves his huge houses so much that he currently has two up for sale for around $80M each. The first is in Bradbury, Calif., a nondescript L.A. suburb, while the other, is this gargantuan stone lake house on Montana's Flathead Lake. As if this particular corner of Montana wasn't remote enough, Abbey placed his 50,000-square-foot vacation home on Shelter Island, a private 24-acre island off the lake's western shore. The opulent getaway is "sided in Indiana limestone, detailed with African mahogany and Italian marble," and features a custom-made boat lift and garage that cost millions to engineer and install. Known as Whispering Rock, the estate was once listed for an utterly ridiculous $105M, but has since bowed to sanity by lowering the price to, er, $78M.

↑ Rural Kentucky has long been home to stately horse farms and shooting estates, but medieval castles? Not so much. That's why this outlandish citadel in Versailles, Ky. seems so out of place. The stone hilltop castle, with its 16 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, turrets and towering stone walls, would make a ridiculous private home, so it's not surprising that the property is currently used as an event space, with a sprawling parking lot, tennis court, and swimming pool. It was previously listed for a whopping $30M, but has been pulled from the market. Yes, it's not as remote as some on this list, between Lexington and Louisville, but it's miles away from appropriate.

↑ There's no mansion here ... yet. Whales looking to create a remote paradise from scratch would do well to check out White Island, a 140-acre private island in the middle of Maine's remote but not-so-creatively titled Big Lake. Just how remote is Big Lake? It takes six hours to get there by car from Boston. Of course, the buyer would have to supply the island with electricity and water, but at $1.75M, that shouldn't be a problem for a true real estate whale of the Donald Abbey variety.

· Casa Barranca in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park [Leadbetter Webster]
· Top Chapman's 'Stranger Than Fiction' Gunnison National Park Properties [Curbed Ski]
· The Many Magnificent Estates of William Randolph Hearst [Curbed National]
· This is a Real Estate Tycoon's Other $80M Megamansion [Curbed National]
· The American Version of Versailles is Surrounded by Asphalt [Curbed National]
· 1 White's Island [Coldwell Banker]

Copyright © 2013 Curbed National

View Comments