Welcome To Fox Hall
As you leave the outer world behind and approach this graceful and welcoming Georgian house, please notice that you enter through security coded black iron gates and glide through a tunnel of Live Oak trees that have been trained to give a magical sense of privacy and seclusion. There is a privacy screen of mature magnolia trees on Mead Avenue discouraging public curiosity. Sturdy and with stately bones, the home was built in 1975 by Brad Bennet for Bishop Smith. The property started with 4 1/4 acres and was added to with the 2003 purchase of the historic cottage and 1 1/4 acres from Joe Riviere, who inherited it from his ex-wife Marilyn Reviere, a high spirited Aiken grand dame. The main house was purchased in 1980 by Steve Topp, who was a scientist at the Savannah River Site. By the time the current owner saw it, it had been on the market for ten years, and Mr. Topp had previously been charging $250 per viewing for interested buyers! As fate would have it, Mrs. Mellon had been in Aiken visiting a friend for a few days, never intending to move from her VA farm. However, one look at this amazing house and she fell in love with it and Aiken. By the third day, an offer was accepted, and the closing date was set. Mrs. Mellon purchased the house in late 1999 and began a restoration with contractor Buddy Matthews. The biggest surprise was when she and Buddy walked into the house the afternoon of the closing (Steve Topp himself had been absent for the handover) to find an entirely furnished and bursting at the seams house! An empty bottle of wine and two empty wine glasses were at a card table in the then-breakfast area. The former owners had vacated, leaving behind furniture, closets, drawers full of clothes, food in the cabinets and refrigerator, office supplies, two attics' worth of "stuff", a library of books (some that Mr. Topp had written!), linens on the beds, the garage full of tools, laundry supplies and towels, hardware and junk. It was like a movie plot where the owner decides to just walk out and close the door on the past! After donating most of the contents to the SPCA Thrift Shop and Habitat for Humanity, each room was gutted, and the floors were replaced with oak, leaving the foyer marble and the library parquet. All the original woodwork that could be saved was lovingly duplicated to replace what had to be removed. It took three years to bring the house to full beauty again, respecting its past and refreshing what needed updating. This year, Mrs. Mellon again renovated the interior of the home and upgraded the kitchen and master bath. She also added a full bath downstairs where there was just a powder room. The Home As you enter the house, notice the glass side light patterns and the particularly fun arched spider web pattern over the front door. The downstairs has a traditional entry into a formal hallway with black and white marble checkerboard flooring, a wide staircase to the upstairs, and an arched window with custom plantation shutters on the first landing. The ceilings are very high, and the white paneling and wainscoting are lovingly preserved throughout the house. The living room is large with a gas fireplace that can be converted back to wood burning. The paneling over the mantle is perfect for displaying a favorite painting with an outlet there for lighting. The flow of the room is ideal for large gatherings with two very wide doorways. The dining room is formal with the original chandelier hanging in the center. There is a ventless gas fireplace with a traditional mantle and wired for a picture light over top. The paneling is perfect for displaying works of art and, again, there is an outlet over the mantle for a picture light. There are two hall coat closets, a full bath, and a windowed hall to the kitchen. The door to the brick patio guides your eye to the raised flower beds, and to the irrigated large paddock beyond. The backyard is ready for large parties or even a swimming pool! The commercial chef's kitchen is large and well appointed. There are five ovens, a Viking warming oven, wine cooler, two large Sub-Zero stainless refrigerators, two ice makers, a Decor six burner stove, extensive cabinets for storage, hardwood floors, two Kitchen Aid dishwashers, catering size counters, two sinks (one large and deep for washing pots and one two section sink) both with garbage disposals. There is a trash compactor, under counter lighting, a lit ceiling fan and pull out trays for storage of appliances under the counters. There is a vertical tray cabinet and pot lid storage conveniently located over the stove. There is a breakfast bar with a great view of the television. There is also a pantry with floor to 10-foot ceiling shelves. New granite was installed in 2018. The roof was replaced in 2008 and the attic was insulated, which makes the space cool in the summer and warm in the winter. New double pane windows were installed throughout (the original windows were saved and stored in the attic). Two entirely new heating and cooling systems were installed on the upstairs and downstairs, with the convenience of zoning added, with both electric and natural gas serving the whole house and its systems. There are 5 zones. There is an extensive surveillance system to watch the grounds, front and back of the house, all of the stalls, sides, and back of the barn. It is accessible by smartphone, which comes in handy while traveling. There are also two small "safe rooms" hidden in the house, one containing a bolted down, fireproof safe for valuables. There is a "whole house" water filtration system (not a salted water conditioner) that removes chlorine from the city water and a virus killing UV light system in the ductwork. There is also an ample crawl space system under the house for easy access. The 6,836-square-foot house is well suited for expansion into unused spaces. There is room for an apartment upstairs at the East end of the house, in the old studio. Plumbing, heating, and cooling are already there, as well as dormer windows and very bright solar tubes that let in huge amounts of natural light. The space is already well insulated with energy efficient windows and finished flooring. The other unused space is over the attached two-car garage. Large enough to accommodate a large guest area, it can either be accessed through the house or from a separate entrance outside. The downstairs master bedroom with parquet floors, sitting area with Murphy bed, kitchen and full bath/laundry serves as a rental apartment if needed. This space opens to a private brick patio and yard fenced for your dog. The two-story art studio was added around 2012. It is one thousand square feet, Hardiplank, and well-insulated. The studio also features a heated hickory floor, an abundance of outlets and lighting, and French doors with clerestory all around. The French doors on one side lead out to the patio. Carpeted walls allow for easy painting hanging with curtain hooks. There is a TV hook up, built in surround sound, overhead fans, and an antique vanity with copper sink and marble shelving. This incredible building is air-conditioned, up and down, has solar tube natural lighting upstairs and abundant electric light and fans. There are also green canvas awnings on the west side over the doors looking out to the mulberry tree. With so many amazing features, this studio could easily be converted into beautiful living quarters. As you wander upstairs, you'll find the additional master suite - complete with its very own laundry and dressing room. The luxurious master bath features a new soaking tub, tiled shower, double vanities, a gas fireplace, and a heated Toto toilet with bidet. The other guest suite is large and has a full bath with granite, ample closet space, and storage. Large windows invite you to pause for a moment and take in the incredible views of both the front and back paddocks.
If you thought this home was incredible, just wait until you see the beautiful grounds! A wide variety of fruit and nut trees grace the property, including blueberry bushes, persimmons, pear, plum, pecan, apple, fig, mulberry, and hazelnut, among others. There is also a Jasmine-covered gazebo in front of the barn to have peaceful morning coffee with the birds. The chicken pen was constructed to allow for the height of the building and to accommodate fruit trees, as well as provide shade and hanging out roosts for the chickens. The pen is predator proof with the wire on the bottom deeply buried to discourage digging and wire roofing. This little in-town farm has been naturally maintained for 18 years and no harmful chemicals are used on it. Everything is composted, as noted by the large piles in the back paddock, and the all-organic grounds are perfect for gardening and raising animals. The waist-high, brick filigree raised beds have a bottom draining platform, a layer of screenings, and homegrown organic compost. There are three wells for irrigation and the barn, with one ready for a hand pump to be installed for emergency water supply. The extensive irrigation system is computerized and waters the whole five and a half acres. There are automatic, heated waterers in the paddocks. There is a 12x24 run-in shed in the back paddock that can easily be made into a barn with two stalls. Additional run-ins are in the other paddocks. No-climb wire is on all the fencing to keep other people's dogs out and to keep yours at home. A new painted eight-foot-tall privacy fence has been installed on the back (South) of the farm. There is also a large, fully fenced dog yard with no-climb wire, a double pet door into the laundry room, and a Plexiglas corridor. It is shaded by a beautiful evergreen Chinese Oak. The two-car garage has a 50/30 amp RV hook up, 220 outlet for welding, a large, single rolling door, and windows for light and air. Walk directly from the garage into laundry/mud room which has a large capacity washer and dryer, very tall ceilings, huge storage, an industrial ceiling fan, and a dog washing bathtub, and a dog door leading to the dog pen. Each building (main house, barn, cottage) has its own self-exercising generator. When the rest of Aiken has no power, you will have the use of absolutely everything in your domain!
Started in 2003, this unique barn was designed by Mrs. Mellon and built over a period of two and a half years by Buddy Matthews. Many skilled craftspeople contributed their special talents to this lovely barn, including Linda Rosi who handmade most every piece of the iron hardware. The theme of the barn is “hearts” and you will see them everywhere, even on the cross ties and the weathervanes on the roof. There is also homage paid to Aiken with Hitchcock “ceilings” on the doors. The barn was built to go with the look of the main house and to look historic. Please note the tree on the north end in front of the carriage room window. The foundation was laid very gently so as not to disturb that wonderful tree and to hint that the barn is so old that the tree grew up in front of it sometime later. Pyracantha has been trained up and over the windows on the front of the barn to lend a sense of prestige and elegance. As you approach from the front, please notice, from left to right, a large size motorhome bay, a wash stall, the tack room behind it, four stalls, a grain/carriage room, a trailer bay and a back porch. The motorhome bay, which features an extra tall ceiling for maintenance work on the RV’s roof and a 50/30 amp RV hookup, has served double duty housing temporary stalls, as have the back porch, and the trailer bay. This space could easily be made into an apartment. The wash stall has no center drain. Instead, there is a slight crown that allows the water to flow to each side through grates and drains that go underground to a gravel pit. This safer configuration avoids the common breakage of center drains and eliminates the risk of a horse’s foot stepping through the drain hole. Please note the overhead hose boom…no tangled hose to spook a horse. There are heat lamps and fans in the ceiling, non-slip rubber bricks on the floor, and hot water with a pre-set temperature from a tank through the wall into the tack room. The back door can be opened or not depending on ventilation required and disposition of the horse being washed. The tack room has wood paneling and floor, ceiling fans, an air conditioner, a rolling island in the center with a Lexan top. The heating system is circulating oil, radiant heat coil units. The bathroom has a Biolet composting toilet. Over the tack room is an additional loft. The stalls are 12’ x 12” and have mattresses on the floor. The base is composed of screenings, and rubber tubes filled with recycled, rubber crumbles lay on top. A rubber membrane is then bolted to the base of the walls so there is no movement as in most rubber mats. Because of the softness, bedding can be economically reduced and used as an absorbent rather than a cushion. The stall partitions and the back screens are in a pattern that rowdy horses cannot get a foot through. Vertical bars are dangerous, and this pattern is not only decorative but safe and ventilated. Horses are very social animals and they love being able to see each other through the metal work. There are automatic waterers in each stall and volume counters on the outside should you need to keep track of how much a horse is drinking. The stall doors have the Hitchcock ceiling theme so typical of Aiken, and the doors are covered with Lexan, with metal frames on the stall door tops to keep chewing at a minimum. There are two sets of stall lights, front and back, for full view doctoring on a horse in the night. There are fans overhead and an exhaust fan in the cupola, high ceilings and back doors for ventilation, and a catwalk running the length of the four stalls for throwing hay and bedding down. Beside the grain room is a retracting ladder that folds out for access to the loft. The wood-paneled grain/carriage room has a Lexan countertop, and overhead fans. On the north end, there is a large bay that can house a horse trailer. The brick knee wall provides protection from the wind and privacy from the road. Behind the barn is a long porch. There is access from the stalls to the porch and out in case of fire. The big doors slide open in summer and close for winter. At the south end of the porch is an automatic generator that serves the entire barn in a power failure. This ensures that the horses will always have water in the stalls, and lights and hot wash stall water. A general note about the barn: The brick walls and pillars have twelve feet of concrete poured inside and the stalls are fireproof cinderblock. This barn was built to be here for at least a hundred years! Georgia blacksmith, Linda Rosi, took approximately two years to hand make each heart themed hinge, door handle, cross tie, and decorative piece over the stall doors. The courtyard is floored with rubber bricks throughout. The aisle is twelve feet wide and has two sources of lighting for late night chores or doctoring. There are two chandeliers over the main aisle. Truly one-of-a-kind!
The Guest House
In addition to the main residence, there is a lovely guest house complete with wood floors, a wood burning fireplace, a large bedroom, and a full bath. There are French doors on the front and windows on all sides. The exterior siding was recently replaced with new wood siding and Tyvek insulation. There is an old oak at the front of the cottage that shades the porch and allows relaxing views of the paddocks. It is heated and air-conditioned and has its own generator that powers everything in the house. With mature landscaping, the approach to the cottage has automatic black iron gates and leads through a flowering tunnel of crepe myrtle trees, roses, ivy and Pyracantha. The yard is fully fenced for dogs and has easy access to the barn and main house. This cottage could easily be enlarged.
All of This and More Awaits You at Fox Hall…
This location in the Horse District is highly sought after. It was featured in Garden and Gun magazine and has been included in a Barn Tour of exceptional barns in Aiken. It is a pleasure to see racehorses, carriage driving, polo, hunters, jumpers, eventers, and trail riders enjoying the dirt roads and open fields. The 2,300 acre Hitchcock Woods trails are just a short hack away, crossing over only one paved road that is equipped with equestrian lights to stop traffic while horses are ridden or driven to the Woods. Wouldn’t you like to be the proud new owner of this gem?
Property Features Include: Historic Home, Ranch, 4 Fireplace(s), security system, Attached 2 car garage, 5 zones in main house. Gas heat/electric air., Forced air gas, 16 camera security system and security gated property., None
Interior Features Include: Refinished hardwood floors, marble, plantation shutters, freshly painted interior, new full bath downstairs, custom moldings, downstairs master and upstairs master. Two safe rooms.
Amenities Include: equestrian facilities
Built in: 1975
Designed by: Brad Bennet
Built by: Brad Bennet
Approximate Square Feet:
Brick two story manor house Georgian style
Roof: Compostion shingle roof.
Architectural Style: Colonial
Lot Acres: 5.43