Bellapais sold for $8 million

Bellapais sold for $8 million

In what may be one of the most expensive real estate transactions of 2007, a 25-acre estate fronting the Potomac River on River Farm closed last week for $8 million — about $4 million less than its original asking price.

“Bellapais” is an 18-room house near Mount Vernon which sits on land once owned by George Washington and is now protected by a scenic easement.

The buyer is Stephen W.T. O’Keefe, the founder and CEO of O’Keefe & Co., a technology marketing company based in Old Town. In confirming the transaction with the Times on Wednesday, O’Keefe said he plans to move into the home by March or April with his wife Maureen and their three children.

“We’re very excited about moving in,” O’Keefe told The Times Wednesday, in confirming the transaction.  “We’ve already set to work on renovations.”

Headquartered on King Street, O’Keefe & Co. has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Portland, Rochester and Bethesda.  The firm celebrated its 10th anniversary in June at a party with special guest Bo Derek, star of the movie “10.” At the time, O’Keefe thanked his 60 employees, “and of course, our clients for 10 years of success. He added, We welcome Bo Derek to our annual bash the perfect 10 to help us celebrate an almost perfect 10.    

O’Keefe is British, and is a noted collector of vintage British automobiles.

According to Realtors familiar with the transaction, Bellapais was the home since the 1930’s of the McCormicks, scions of McCormick International, manufacturers of agricultural tractors, and for years was lived in by Taylor Burke, a member of the founding family of Burke & Herbert Bank, who was married to one of the McCormicks daughters.

Sources said the house had not been lived in for three years, but in 2001, it was refurbished to provide more modern amenities while preserving its historic integrity, according to the MLS listing of William F.X. Moody of Washington Fine Properties, Sotheby’s International, the listing agent. Moody did not return calls for comment.

The nine-bedroom house was built in Federal style in the mid-1800. It boasts an impressive array of modern luxuries, including a five-zone central air-conditioning system, dentil moldings, wainscoting and marble mantels. There are seven and a half bathrooms, gourmet kitchens with granite counters and central work islands.

On a hill overlooking the Potomac, Bellapais has a pathway leading to it, with a barn/stable and office/studio.The house follows the strict Georgian plan. Its mullioned shuttered windows stand in strict symmetry against the red brick exterior beneath its slate roof, and takes full advantage of its waterfront location and large wooded lot. There’s a fireplace in the master suite, dining room and library, which features built-in bookshelves. It’s graced by verandas and terraces, taking full advantage of the river views.

After an almost six-year listing on the market, the home’s asking price was reduced from $12.5 million to $9.75 million. 

Times Real Estate Editor Jackie Friedlander contributed to this story.