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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
For the curious