It took a lot of foresight and guts in 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, to start a new business that most people would consider as a frivolous non-necessity. But brothers Prestley and Curtis Blake of Springfield, Massachusetts understood the need for little pleasures that would lessen the impact of struggle during the dark years, so they borrowed $547 from their parents and opened Friendly’s Ice Cream where they sold double-dipped cones for five cents each. It was so popular that in 1940 they opened a second store in West Springfield. Though there was a pause for closing during World War II, by 1951 they already had 10 stores. When the brothers sold the operation to Hershey Foods Corporation in 1979 for $162 million, there were 500 stores operating from the Northeast through the Mid-Atlantic United States selling ice cream cones, sundaes, ice cream cakes and sandwiches.
In his late 90s, Prestley Blake decided to build his dream home, a replica of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, to celebrate his upcoming 100th birthday. Located in Somers, Connecticut with nearly 10,000 square feet of living space, the Monticello replica has 11 rooms with five bedrooms and five baths sited on over nine acres. Exterior hand-made brick was imported from Virginia and soffits were custom molded to match Jefferson’s carved wooden soffits. The balustrades around the rooftop are also designed to look exactly like those at the original Monticello. The roof is a composite material made to look like slate. The interior was designed for modern living standards, however, homages exist throughout including the blue sky ceiling mural in the entryway that recalls the skylight in Jefferson’s dome room. Jefferson used shutters for window coverings, but in the case of Prestley’s replica, provisions were engineered to accommodate today’s standards. The new owner will have the opportunity to landscape in the Jeffersonian style with a 1700’s style “fruitery” (fruit orchard), vegetable and flower gardens. Other features include seven fireplaces, three-car garage, gourmet kitchen with walk-in pantry, energy-efficient windows and geothermal heating and cooling.
Connecticut replica of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, conceived and built by co-founder of Friendly’s Ice Cream, Prestley Blake, in celebration of his 100th birthday will be going up for auction with no reserve on May 31st. The auction company is Concierge Auctions of New York City.
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