The Biggest House

Not Chas(t)e.
The Chase Mansion, West Hartford

I see it every day

Septemeber 2012 Update: I’ve met Mr. Chase. He’s a very down to earth, intelligent and unassuming guy. He also loves CTMQ and has certainly read this page. He also likes that I “tell it like it is” on this site which left me in the odd position of – “So should I be a bit nicer on the page about his house or will he then think I’m a simp?” Life is a funny thing.

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September 2011 Update: As you’ll see in the comments below, this post has generated a lot of differing opinions. Several commenters make the point that Mr. Chase can build whatever the heck he wants (which I don’t deny) and that he worked for his money and, most importantly, that he is a HUGE philanthropist. None of this is deniable. Especially now, as an unsolicited Mr. Chase himself has donated generously to the Smith-Magenis Syndrome Research Foundation – for which Hoang and I hosted the Dream for Damian fundraiser this week. A huge thank you to Mr. Chase. I wonder if he’s seen this page? If so, please contact me! I may still think you’re house it too big, but you sir, are a wonderful man.

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While I’m in Connecticut Magazine this month for this blog, and Hoang and I were in the Courant yesterday for being able to cook, this house is featured in the Courant today (2/5/10) for getting a $100K tax bill.

chase1.jpeg
I figured this called for a giant image.

Your first thought upon seeing this is, “Um. It’s a big house, so what?” And that’s fair… Until I tell you the Arnold Chase Mansion up on Avon Mountain (which is actually called Talcott Mountain) off of Route 44 is… The biggest house in the history of the universe! Or at least close enough.

Excessive waste and sheer selfish stupidity are two traits in fellow humans I abhor. 51,000 square foot houses, if not providing shelter to 100,000 needy children, are both excessively wasteful and selfishly stupid. And I have one not more than a couple miles from my doorstep!*

*A doorstep which is in front of a house that can fit over 28 times inside this hulking lunacy.

In the winter, at least until Mr. Chase plants some full grown firs to replace the thousands of trees he killed to build, I can actually see this place from my neighborhood. He clear-cut a very, very large swath at the top of the mountain that separates my town from Avon. The mansion is within a third of a mile from this beautiful area. There is nothing redeeming about this to me.

But others disagree, like the author of The Good Life blog, Maria Palma who wrote, “Just imagine having a 33,500 square foot basement complex with a 103-seat movie theater! Hmm…now that’s The Good Life!” Ms. Palma’s definition of “good” is vastly different than mine, that’s for sure.

chase2.jpg
Here’s my shot, while driving by on the main road – this guy says he wants “privacy” and yet, he chopped off a mountain top so we could see his vainglorious ode to himself.

On the flipside, a visit to treehugger, we get a different take from their article, “Wretched excess.” My favorite commenter wrote, “I have visited several “museums” in the past that were originally built as private homes (Viscaya in Miami is one). They have the common quality of being so ridiculously large that the decendents of the original owner can’t afford to pay the property taxes, so they graciously donate it to the government… At least this future public museum already has a movie theatre with concession stand built in.”

Good one. And the property taxes in West Hartford are some of the highest in a state with some of the highest in the country. Chase has serious money.

Real news outlets reported on this mess too, like The Associated Press, for one (excerpted):

The enormity of the house Arnold Chase is building on Avon Mountain isn’t fully apparent from the outside, where only 17,000 square feet of it lies in plain view.

It’s the two-level, 33,500-square-foot basement complex, complete with a 103-seat movie theater, ticket booth, concession stand, game room and music annex, that will make it New England’s largest occupied single-family home. At nearly 50,900 square feet, the Chase home will be slightly larger than billionaire Bill Gates’ home in Washington, about 4,000 square feet smaller than the White House and 20 times larger than the average-size home in America.

chasescar.jpg
A good idea of the Chase mansion’s ridiculousness

…[Chase] refused an interview and had a freelance photographer seeking permission to photograph the house for The Associated Press cited for trespassing…

Some question the morality of building a private home that large.

“Do you actually need to have that amount of space to live a good life?” said Susan A. Eisenhandler, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut. “There are homeless people. There are impoverished people. There are serious social concerns, and we’re not addressing that.”

The only single-family residential structures in New England larger than Chase’s are two mansions in Newport, which are now museums and no longer occupied…”

I like this too – have you ever seen a house so big that the best resolution from GoogleMaps didn’t capture it all? Now you have!

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For the curious

There it is, smack in the middle on top of the mountain

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Comments

  1. joe says

    WOW! look at all the jealous losers on here commenting – i bet if YOU MADE YOURSELF A SELF-MADE FORTUNE, YOU MIGHT HAVE A LITTLE DIFFERNET PERSPECTIVE – You HATE, I sdee him as an inspiration, as a motivator to think :shit! I can do it! anyone can!” and I am working my way up — and then u get rediculous moron burn-out aging hippies who say dumbass shit like this: “Do you actually need to have that amount of space to live a good life?” said Susan A. Eisenhandler, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut. “There are homeless people. There are impoverished people. There are serious social concerns, and we’re not addressing that.” <– WE'RE NOT ADDRESSING THAT?????? I'M PRETTY SURE THAT ITS BEEN DEMAGOGUED FOR 60+ YEARS AND NOW THESE DAYS ITS BEING DEMAGOGUED SO MUCH THAT I AM SO HARDENED TO IT THAT I SAY "F**K EM!!! CUT THEM OFF AND LET THEM FIGURE OUT THEIR OWN LIVES.. I DID… I WAS A FORMER ADDICT, TRIUMPHED OVER IT, BEEN CLEAN SINCE I WAS 22, NOW I AM 29 RUNNING MY OWN INVESTMENT FIRM…. I dont sit around and looka t hard working people and HATE THEM just because I am too lazy to work hard and achieve what they have…. ALL THSOE WHO HATE ARE LAZY SMALL-MINDED SELFISH JEALOUS ENVIOUS MORONS WHO PROBABLY LEAD A PATHETIC LIFE AND CONTRIBUTE NOTHING TO SOCIETY BUT THEY BITCH ENDLESSLY ABOUT SOCIETY…. SHUT UP, GO AWAY, AND DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE WITH YOUR LIFE…. But, you wont, and thats fine, because if you want to live a miserable pathetic life sucking on the tit of big-daddy Government and then die, that effects my life in no way whatsoever. I SAY, GOD BLESS THE CHASE FAMILY (And by the way, i went to highschool with his daughter, Sarah Chase, and they are a TALENTED FAMILY, A HARD WORKING FAMILY, A GENUINE AND GOOD AND DECENT FAMILY AND AS INDIVIDUALS… SO YOU ALL ARE SO SMALL-MINDED THAT YOU JUST HATE BECASE YOUR LIFE SUCKS AND YOU DONT WANT TO HAVE TO WORK HARD FOR A LONG TIME – YOU JUST WANT THINGS GIVEN TO YOU…. LIKE A BABY…. FOREVER LIVING LIKE AN INFANT…, HAVE FUN LOSERS!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

  2. CowboyPhil says

    Who cares, it is his money and how he spends it is his business. I am appalled that people would call someone greedy that has done well for them self. I am not saying it is not what I would call excessive, but it is HIS money to do with as he pleases. No one should judge others, you have the right to spend your money anyway you like and so does this person. How much he has given to charity is irrelevant and really no ones business. Instead of focusing hatred toward others, just focus on what matters in your own life and not worry about how the wealth spend their money–FYI no I am not wealthy, but I do think everyone should be free to do with what they earned as long as they are doing no harm.

  3. Joe says

    Leave the guy alone. I drive by this house at least once a week as I live in West Hartford and shop at Big Y in Avon and my kids love seeing the house as we drive by on our way up the mountain. I understand people think that Mr. Chase should be giving so much more away than he does, but he can do what he wants and he gives plenty. Do I think it’s way too much house, absolutely, but he also earned it and he has a right to do what he wants and shouldn’t have everyone bugging him. If we didn’t live in a free enterprise system, which allows for people to make millions and millions of dollars, we’d be in a far worse place than we are now. I’m just hoping someday I’ll be able to get a tour with my kids of this beautiful place!

  4. Joe says

    I have to agree with what the ‘other’ Joe said above. He’s so right. To think people put that much energy into writing something negative about the size of the house and the money spent on it, he/she could have done something for ‘society.’ And, what I’ve learned from my posting right above from just yesterday is that the Chase family gives tons of money to things in West Hartford and all over the state and the U.S. and many of which we don’t even know about. So, God bless them!

  5. Raoul says

    I am a fan. I have no right to throw stones. It’s his money, he’s excessively generous, so go ahead and spend your money in CT. I wish I had that kind of success. Someone this successful doesn’t do foolish things, especially with money. If I had a complaint it would be that I am jealous. I live in Avon and I’m proud to have this family as my neighbor. Im sure many of these people will eat their own words some day. Congrats and thanks.

  6. SteveM says

    Well I’m sorry but it is a waste. I work for this family in one of their enterprises and let me tell you the benefits suck (no sick or personal days), you get about 8-9 holidays each year and 5 days vacation. Not to mention our medical insurance requires you to spend the first $2000 in network out of pocket before BCBS will cover anything. and God forbid you go out of network then you have to spend the first $4000 out of pocket. So they may be giving to your community, but not to its peon employees.

  7. Green says

    For contrast … you can read about this rich person’s choice to make a house “with all the amenities” that uses zero energy, and is a learning center for the local environmental organization on renewable energy.

    “On the kind of beautiful, relatively expensive property that this is, I knew that I couldn’t get away from the expectation that this site deserves a 5,000-square-foot McMansion,” Zahren told the Courant. “But what’s a McMansion? It’s just a big, cheaply built energy guzzler. I decided to prove that we could build a big house with great views, and all the amenities, that was a net-zero-energy structure.”

    http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/green-building-news/big-house-will-tap-wind-power-all-it-s-worth

  8. Jay says

    With great wealth, you would hope the wisdom to use it wisely comes with it, including the understanding that signaling your worth through building palaces in your own honor when inequality and suffering have reached epic proportions is disgusting and small-minded in the extreme. Mr. Chase, get a clue. You may have worked hard for your fortunes, but that doesn’t mean you deserve a larger slice of the planet. Shame.

  9. Jay says

    In Fine Homebuilding Magazine’s website, Mr. Chase has defended his massive structure as eco-friendly using many of the latest energy saving building methods, and it’s size necessary to host many charity fundraisers. While it’s laudable to use geo-thermal, insulate, and recycle construction debris, Mr. Chase does not care one square foot about the environment.

    He can claim he does, but while he pats himself on the back for his eco-friendliness, he is hosting a fundraiser for Republican candidate for Vice-President Paul Ryan at his mansion tomorrow, a man who is on the record as a climate change denier and an advocate of fossil fuel subsidies. Are these the types of “charities” Mr. Chase is serving?

    It makes NO SENSE for a man who cares about the environment to be raising money for climate change deniers.

    Arnold Chase, we are not fools.

  10. says

    Jay has about said it all. We can only add that the world not only doesn’t need another trophy house perched atop some hill for all the world to admire (not that we do), but also we don’t need a return of the Robber Barons who once built such monuments to their own…..magnificence? If you want more space to party, rent some resort and help the economy. If you want more space for all your collections, donate them to some museum. As for the trophy house being “green”…..ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha……

  11. Green3nergy says

    Your comments have three things in common:
    The Chase family is one of the richest in the world and are principal partners in the Federal Reserve.

    The Rockefeller family is also one of the richest in the world and are principal partners in the Federal Reserve.

    Both families built absurdly grandiose mansions on the highest point in a geographic region.

    Kykuit in Mount Pleasant, NY. And now this one in West Hartford, CT. Both member families of the Federal Reserve.

  12. Ken Mahoney says

    Gee- I think that man, Mr. Chase and his family can do whatever they want with their own land. I’m sure it is bought and paid for by his own due diligence and work ethic.
    So he built a tremendous home-what of it? It actually is quite pleasant to look at-which according to his landcaper won’t be at some point visible to the worker bees that travel up and down Avon Mountain. Enjoy the view while you can. It may not your dream to live in a large home-I wouldnt mind a few extra square footage–
    Think of the huge labor force of skilled workpeople-both men and women he gave a healthy amount of jobs not to mention the companies that supplied the materials, bricks, millwork, flooring, windows, locks, plumbig, electrical and the list goes on. Plus with a large home he needs to hire not just one or two people to maintain it but a staff for both inside and out. Somehow I dont think he shovels his own drive. nor cuts his grass.
    Applaude Mr.Chase for spending his monies here in CT. West Hartford must be thrilled to add that property to its tax base–bet they never ever have to send a patrol car to break up a wild party on the premises.
    I salute Mr. Chase and his wonderful sense of giving soo much back as well.

  13. Buffy says

    Well, well, well Tony.. You are the exact example of what I call a douche bag with to much money. I understand property values, and the value of working the dollar for a better overall prophet. What you had said is utterly disgusting, and very insulting to the common working person. By the way, if it was not for the common working person, you would be eating the same dirt you find it OK to say it’s ok for them to eat. What makes you think you are better??? Please do answer.. Was it the Yale or Stamford education that daddy paid for, and your useless frat boy parties? Or was it the trust fund, and the business your pops worked his ass off in the day to pass off to his punk assed kid. People like you are a dime a dozen. Lets take away your bank roll, your cars, your ability to get a job on your name, your ability to cook or clean for yourself and see how you do. Oh wait, you pay people to do that right? Perhaps one day, you can look at your “helpers” in the eye and know exactly what it is like to raise a family in the top majority of this country. You are such a great role model. God forbid my property values fall.

  14. Jim James says

    Talk about envy! All you commies thinking that Chase’s dollars or anyone else’s should be LESS valuable than yours? Last I knew Americans were free to work as much or as little as they want or need, they could then use it freely/legally, and there was no “set limit” of money they could make. After seeing all the Marxist comments here, I truly understand why America is in the dumpers with the current Marxist in the white house who rose based on class envy and the “Santa Claus” voters.

    So much for freedom! Just remember after you free lunchers “vote” our country into the communist Utopia that fits your definition of “fair”, you will miss the little things that seem trivial now such as that “obscene” latte which could be “better used” on a more worthy Stalist/obamunist “public good”. I am disappointed and disgusted by the economic ignorance, jealousy, and violence of the comments here more worthy of 1950s communist Russia or China.

  15. Daily Commuter says

    I read all the comments and noticed that the guy named “Steve” has been active on this blog for several years. He’s taken time to respond to many of the pro-Chase comments. That is his perogative to do so, after all, it is HIS time, right? However, one might argue tthat all the time “Steve” has devoted to commenting on this blog could have been far better spent working at a shelter, or something else that would serve the public good.Griping and complaining about the Chase’s really doesn’t “do” anything for anyone, does it? If he is so consumed with the the moral issue of what he deems to be waste, could not one also argue that he is mutually wasteful with his own TIME? After all, time has value just as money does. What is he doing with his time? He clearly has excessive time on his hands. It would be nice to see him put down the devisive “pen” and use his hands towards something a bit more useful. No one needs Steve to “point out” to us how big the Chase home is. I see it every day! And guess what…it’s fine with me. And you know what, it’s fine too if Steve wants to “waste” his time commenting on everyone else’s opinion, which might include mine. It’s all part of living in a free country. The Chase’s wealth and property, etc, is NOT the reason why others live in squalor elsewhere. The fact that Steve is busy “online” blasting the Chase’s is not the reason why there is not enough help at the local food bank. We can blame each other all day long for the problems in society…but the best solution is to look in the MIRROR and see what YOU can do…everyone has something they can do to help someone else. It’s not up to us to put a measuring stick on what our neighbor or coworker does…
    Speaking of time better spent, I think I have things to do. As for the Chase house. I like it. The only thing I don’t like is the massive “No Tresspassing” sign at the gate…it takes away from the pretty gate that they built. But if they like it or feel they need it, than that’s fine. It’s their property. For the two seconds that I see it each day, I’m pretty sure my life will not be hindered by it, nor will any of yours.

  16. says

    Yeah!~ I even heard a rumor that “Steve” is also the guy who writes and maintains this very website for the last 8 years! What gives, “Steve?!”

    I also heard that this “Steve” character is personal friends with Mr. Chase and has shared a laugh with Mr. Chase about this very page. (Actually, I read that in the first two paragraphs on this page. You know, the one that actually links a fundraiser and non-profit organization that “Steve” devotes an enormous amount of time to, raising money for research for a very rare genetic syndrome. The one that Mr. Chase himself generously donated to in the past. And how this 1500 page massive website is more or less an advocacy program for special needs people all over.)

    But whatever, I’m sure “Steve” is a total bum.

  17. says

    Does anyone know the Chase family well enough to know why Arnold (or was it David?) Chase hired me to play the Trinity College carillon in 1984 for the Star Spangled Banner sign-on/sign-off when WTIC-TV 61 launched? That rendition (with pictures of Ella Grasso because WTIC was in her memory and a Grasso son had worked with Chase) ran morning and night from 1984 until the early 1990s. But I never heard the whole story why the Chase family wanted the carillon to play the National Anthem instead of the Hartford Symphony, which was there at the kick-off in the old Hartford Hilton. You can re-live that here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwuWt6tNEYw

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