The Co-Founder of Friendly's Built a Complete Replica of Thomas Jefferson's Mansion
If you’re 100 years old, have all the money you could ever dream of, and happen to be a big fan of Thomas Jefferson, why not build a replica of his famed plantation house, Monticello? That’s exactly what S. Prestley Blake, who founded Friendly’s with his brother Curtis way back in 1935, decided to do, and the sprawling house was put up for auction this week, quickly selling for the surprisingly bargain price of $2.1 million.
The 10,000-square-foot house, which Blake built on the edge of his property in Somers, Connecticut, a couple years ago, was never intended to be occupied by Blake, who told the Hartford Courant that it was only intended to be a source of civic pride. While the exterior of the house is essentially an exact replica of Monticello, which Jefferson built in 1772, the interior is more modern, with five bedrooms, four full baths, a rotund with a butterfly staircase, and a dome painted by Blake’s stepdaughter and her husband. The nine-acre property also includes seven fireplaces, a three-car garage, and a rooftop patio. Blake’s wife, Helen, played a large role in designing the house’s interior.
Blake, who will turn 102 in November, spent $7.7 million of his own money building the house, and took to auctioning it off after it didn’t sell by traditional means. While the $2.1 million price is much less than Blake was hoping for, he isn’t too upset about it, mostly because it’ll be occupied by a family instead of used as an event space or tourist attraction.
"I'm glad that they got it," Blake told the Courant. "But I don't see how they got it so low."