Many children dream about living in the grand castles they read about in storybooks. In 1978, John Lavender told his 3-year-old son: "Someday I'll build you a house where we both will live and create special memories together ... a place we'll call home. Someday, Jason, I will build you a castle." And, he did. Lavender, the owner of Highlands Castle at 18 Skyline Drive in Bolton Landing, N.Y., had not given the idea much thought before that moment. However, once he uttered those words, the plan became a reality.
Lavender searched for the right property and then he stumbled upon a vacant 7.26-acre lot in Bolton Landing, N.Y. In 1982, he purchased the lot, overlooking beautiful Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains. "I found the property and knew it was private, which is what I was looking for," Lavender said. No other homes are visible and it is surrounded by 150 acres of untouched land, never to be developed.
By 1984, the home grew in height and neared completion. At this point, Lavender realized just how spectacular his view was. "After I started to clear some trees and build the home," Lavender said, "I realized I had a 180-degree panoramic view of Lake George." The castle became more than just a place to live for Lavender. It is a home that he never stopped putting love into, well after he and his family moved in.
"We did a little bit of stone work year after year," he said. A total of 800 tons of stone were placed one at a time, and three structures were built -- the main house, the gate house and the carriage
'I promised you I would build a castle but didn't say you wouldn't help.'
Lavender reminisced about the memories he built with his son at this 6,000-square-foot home. "As my son grew older he joined in. My joke was, 'I promised you I would build a castle but didn't say you wouldn't help.' " Lavender added that Jason brought his football team one summer, and together they completed all of the outside terraces.
Many other family memories were enjoyed at the property, including Lavender's wedding, his son's wedding and his cousin's wedding. Lavender hopes that "the buyer will fall in love with it, and [it will] be as meaningful to them and their family as it is to ours."
Cathy Libecci of Roohan Realty holds the $14.8 million listing in Bolton Landing, where homes are hitting the market for a median list price of $493,000. She toured the home for the first time two years ago and told Lavender, "This view far surpasses anything I have seen in my lifetime."
"Most people don't know that this exists in the Northeast, three hours from Manhattan," Libecci explains. "That is the problem with finding a buyer." Libecci adds, "I think the buyer is out there and will appreciate the view that he has -- someone who really appreciates nature."
Thirty-six years later, Lavender's promise has come full circle. Now, he is ready to pass on his home, built on love, to a buyer looking to carry on Highlands Castle's legacy.
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