The Gryphon House
(Le Maison D' Arches)
1936 French Normandy Country Estate
Middletown, NJ

Gryphon House
~ “La Maison de arches” (House of the Arches)

Beautifully appointed French Normandy house and gardens


The Property ~

Gryphon House is one of the most captivating properties ever built in one of the most picturesque sections of Monmouth County. Built entirely out of stone, this privately owned home is perfectly placed into a rich landscape of old growth trees and gardens, and almost appears to be a painting set against the background of Middletown horse country.

As once described in a published article; “The romance of an earlier era can be felt throughout this approximately 7500 square foot French Normandy, which is impressively set at the culmination of a 200 foot long entrance drive in Monmouth County’s historic Middletown”.

Indeed the term ‘romance’ aptly describes the atmosphere of this remarkable manor house and it is no coincidence. In the movie “Titanic”, there is a scene depicted where an elderly couple, refusing to be separated, lie together holding hands on their beds as the waters rise around them. This couple was not fictional. They were in fact, Isador and Ida Strauss and their family store was Macy’s and Bamberger & Co. This home is part of the Strauss family complex. One of their sons, Herbert, built this particular house in 1936. Over the years it has been referred to as “The House of the Arches” and in more recent years, “Gryphon House”.

When setting out to build this house, Herbert Strauss and his wife Therese retained Alfred Hopkins, one of the most renowned architects of his time and certainly at the top of his field in the New York area. Hopkins was also the architect for the farm complex at Laurelton Hall in Long island, built the for the Tiffany family in the same era. Hopkins employed French motifs for this home and only the highest quality construction was implemented. Its authenticity was further assured when the limestone used to build the house was shipped in from France.

In the years since, the home also served as the residence and even the office of Dr. Thomas, a descendant of the Thomas' English Muffins family. His office remains the house office to this day.

Entering the house is not unlike being instantly transformed to a home in the French countryside. To merely approach the entrance is to feel as if you are stepping into the past. Two huge bronze gryphons (winged lions) frame the tall stone arched entryway. On the other side of the large oak front door and through the velvet curtained entrance is the beautiful stately foyer. One-foot thick stone walls now surround you nearly everywhere you go in the home, giving one an undeniable sense of sanctuary. Walking straight on, you pass the beautiful English country drawing room, complete with a carved stone fireplace capped with a broad solid oak mantle. Though impeccably decorated and elegant in every respect, it also manages to remain cozy, warm and completely inviting.  

The foyer leads to a door and two steps down into a magnificent garden room. In order to enter it you’ll pass through any one in a series of ten-foot tall stone archways. These three arches, the adjacent stone wall, and large fireplace comprise the inner wall to this grand room. At over forty feet wide, paneled and beamed in solid cherry and floored in bluestone, it is impossible not to have some sense of being in an Arthurian court or castle great room. Each of the other three walls of this room offers it’s own double door exit to the gardens, the pool, or the large patio, which is ornamented with five ornate gingko trees.  

The grounds of the home are as unique as the house itself. There is complete privacy as other homes are virtually unseen in every direction. Across the street is “Cobble Close”, a complex of matching sister buildings to this house. All were once a part of the aforementioned Strauss estate. Cobble Close sits behind a pond and the property is occupied with sheep, cows, and steer; a scene that is absolutely picturesque.

Behind Gryphon house, the property gently climbs into a vast hillside. The yard, at first shaded by old growth trees, turns gradually into more open field as it ascends. Beyond the split rail fence are sloping grass pastures and grazing horses as far as the eye can see. There are some of the finest botanical trees in the area; including a several-hundred year old weeping beech, among others. Upon standing under the mostly enclosed canopy of this awesome beech tree, you nearly enter Tolkien's “middle-earth”. To stand next to the centuries old trunk, under the cascading, shroud-like canopy of this tree for even a moment, is to be utterly enchanted.

On the east side of the property, there is a formal garden with a trellised entrance covered in clematis flowers. At the top, there is a twelve-foot wide fountain at one end of an expansive 170 x 80 foot oval stone walking path. This gently slopes away from the guesthouse, which presents a ceremonial point of entrance for a bride to emerge from. A wide series of fieldstone steps edged with large rosebushes descends into the garden.

Wrapping around three exterior sides of the aforementioned garden room are nearly 5,700 square feet of patio area on two levels; 3,000 square feet on ground level with an additional 2,700 square feet on an upper tier which surrounds the 45x20 gunite swimming pool. Alongside the pool is a 9 x 40 foot pergola offering more table and poolside seating options. On the opposite side, another garden area offers a 30 x 80’ flat lawn with one long side being a half-moon crescent with benches and rose gardens around its outer edge.

The owners have generously made the house and grounds available for private weddings and events on an extremely limited basis. This maintains the privacy of the residence and assures certain exclusivity for the client. Generally speaking, the home is available for only two or three wedding events per year between May and October.

This property is offered to those seeking to create a truly unique event with a European ambiance. It is as close as it gets to being in the French or English countryside without leaving New Jersey. Being that this home is not a wedding facility, it is assured that this location will be a new experience to everyone who attends, and will not be duplicated. The availability, being restricted to only several openings in a year, further promises a certain exclusive individuality. Upon visiting the image gallery on the following page, you'll come to realize why this house and property offer infinite possibilities. For the creative, it is the perfect canvas, restricted only by imagination. An event here will be absolutely unequaled and remembered indefinitely by all.  

This is a very private home the rest of the year and is kept as such. Please do not visit or contact the owners directly. For further information please contact agent for the property at 732.847.4074.

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The Gryphon House
(Le Maison D' Arches)
1936 French Normandy Country Estate
Middletown, NJ