A warm feeling swept over me even before I set foot in the main residence of the large estate that’s referred to as the “Old Battery” in Tucker’s Town – one of the most exclusive communities on the charming, quirky, expensive, tiny island of Bermuda. In fact, the feeling was so strong when my friend and native Bermudian Elaine Darling from Rego Sotheby’s International Realty and I drove through the old stone gate and up the curved, palm-lined driveway, I turned to her and said with a smile, “This place is special, right?”
Then we spent several hours immersed in the privacy, luxury and jaw-dropping natural beauty of this three-acre private compound next to Bermuda’s prestigious Mid Ocean Club.
“Special” was an understatement.
In fact, I soon learned the magic of the place started with its original owner: Charles Blair Macdonald, the legendary “father of American golf course architecture.” Macdonald had the main house built on the site where cannons had been placed since the 1600s – the “old battery” – after he was hired to design the Mid Ocean Club’s golf course that opened in 1921.
Since the house had been built for a major figure in early American golf during the roaring ’20s, it was easy to imagine famous golfers and guests in tuxedos with martinis in their hands reveling beyond the reach of American Prohibition in the impossibly grand two-story main room. But, since this large ornate room curiously lacks any ocean view, it was also obvious that real “living” takes place elsewhere in the house. And that only begins to describe the one-of-a-kindness of this enchanting Bermuda estate.
As I found out during our visit, the main house is comprised of numerous high-ceilinged including a guest suite, cozy den with wood-burning fireplace, full-service bar and a “secret” wine cellar hidden behind a working bookcase. But the beating heart of the interior appears to be the paradoxically diminutive sun room and good-sized kitchen that looks (do they both look out over the water or just the kitchen? Adjust to “look” or keep as “looks” accordingly) out over the impossibly blue water that Bermuda is known for.
The simple truth is neither the sun room or the kitchen area would be described as particularly “luxurious” when compared to modern beach homes designed around big, open rooms with impossibly large glass walls that retract seamlessly out of sight. But I’d venture to guess that no other home on this island can boast the privacy that comes with nearly three waterfront acres of land and the views that you get from a cozy couch in the modest sun room or, much better still, from the lawn on the expansive cliff-top that made such a good cannon placement back in the 1600s.
The outdoor space around the main house is simply spectacular, but the paradox of the main house is that, while it’s built on a historic spot the architecture isn’t particularly “Bermudian.” The large, flat lawn is Gatsby-esque but the patio and infinity pool are what you’d expect to find in a much more modern island villa.
Still, the classic sandy beach set between limestone rocks at the end of the long, winding stone stairs couldn’t get any more private. There’s plenty of room for a tennis court and some farmland for growing Bermuda onions There’s also enough garage space for more cars than one might ever need on this tiny island.
The two cottages on the property are an entirely different deal. The guest cottage was built by the current owners as part of a major renovation and expansion project in the 1990s, and the impossibly charming Bluebird Cottage, completely renovated during the same time, is as cute, cozy and quintessentially “Bermudian” as you can get.
Soon I was daydreaming about how peaceful it would be (and the stories I could write) if the current owners would only let me spend some time in Bluebird Cottage in the offseason. Then I snapped out of it.
Since the brand-new, ultra-modern boutique hotel I was staying in (that’s featured on page TK) was just up the road, I decided to walk back. But it was only after I’d said goodbye to Elaine and started along the perfectly proportioned driveway that I finally understood why this place felt so special to me when we first arrived.
There’s really no other place like it on Earth.
Special thanks go to the current owners of the “Old Battery” and to Elaine Darling of Rego Sotheby’s International Realty for such a warm welcome and letting me daydream about using Powder Keg Cottage as a writing retreat.
For more information, visit regosothebysrealty.com
Image Credits: Photos courtesy of Rego Sotheby's Realty.