Two years after his 25-year marriage ended, Ed Bergstraesser, director of external affairs for AT&T, decided to buy a house suited for his new life as an eligible bachelor with an empty nest. It's a sweet little perch, utterly devoid of clutter, and enlivened by interesting collections.
"F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. There are second acts in American lives," says the Chicago native, the father of two daughters. The elder attends University of Michigan Law and the younger daughter is at Oberlin College in Ohio.
After looking at about half a dozen properties around Rhinebeck, he settled on a two-bedroom, two-bath updated ranch-style on Rhinecliff Road. While not perfect, it was in move-in condition, and the work it needed could be accomplished without too much disruption and mess.
"I loved the open layout of this place—built in 1952, it was substantially updated in the 1970s—and was particularly attracted to its perch on a hill. But the previous owner had [placed] a 10-foot decorative metal leaf in front—it was very distracting, so that was first thing to go," says Bergstraesser.
"I'm from Oak Park, a section of Chicago that is heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, and that's the spare, pared-down style to which I'm most attracted," says the lobbyist. "I maintain membership in the Cliff Dwellers Club in Chicago, which was started by architect Louis Sullivan more than a century ago. Back in his heyday, Wright would attend club meetings."
"Most of my furniture is dark wood, prairie style, Mission, with some mid-century modern. I commissioned the dining room table and chairs—they were made by a craftsman in Chicago. I'm probably not your typical Bulls fan. I like to shop for my house, and I'm also kind of a clotheshorse," admits Bergstraesser, cheerfully showing me his new navy suede driving moccasins from the Kenneth Cole outlet at Woodbury Commons. Case in point: His upstairs guest bedroom is basically a walk-in closet.
One of the only things he doesn't like about his home is the laundry room—the ceiling is too low for his 6'3" stature. He kept bumping his head and finally padded the door jam.