Former W.Va. governor's vacation home for sale

July 19, 2005|by TONY BUDNY


Some people have visions of sleeping under the stars - visions that in many cases include pitching a tent and crashing in a sleeping bag.

Former West Virginia Gov. W. Gaston Caperton III took that vision a step further.

Caperton carved out a place in a forest in Shepherdstown, W.Va., for a 7,800-square-foot residence that can be bought for $3.65 million.

Caperton has put his property at 2332 Terrapin Neck Road up for sale, said Bill Drennen, Realtor at Greg Didden Associates.


The house, which was built as Caperton's primary residence, brings new meaning to the phrase "vacation home." Some of the highlights include:

  • 29.64 acres of land surrounding the house, which has an observation tower to see the nearby Potomac River.

  • A Jeep trail, added to the house after the initial land purchase, which gives the off-road enthusiast a place to play.

  • A heated pool with waterfall and a walk-in shower that doubles as a steam room and provides relaxation.

  • A wheeled bed in the master bedroom that can be pushed out to a screened porch underneath the stars.

Caperton, West Virginia's governor from 1989 to 1997, designed the home in 1995. Construction was completed in 1997, Drennen said.

"(Caperton) actually showed me the first sketch of the house on a napkin," Drennen said.

Caperton employed Fernau and Hartman designers of Berkeley, Calif., after he saw a feature in the New York Times about their work to design the house. West Virginia native Laura Hartman is a partner in the firm, a fact that partially led to Caperton's decision to use the firm on this project, Drennen said.

"Most of those who designed and built it were West Virginia natives," Drennen said.

The house can be purchased with most of the furniture and appliances in it, with one exception: Caperton's art collection.

The house is organized into three main sections, each connected by a gallery space holding some of Caperton's collection, including modern and contemporary art, not for sale with the house, Drennen said.

"There are plans for his art collection to go on tour (through museums and other displays). We are not sure when, but the goal was spring of 2006. We will sell the house first before we make those plans," Drennen said.

In January 1999, Caperton became the eighth president of the College Board, a nonprofit membership organization of more than 4,500 colleges, universities, and schools, the College Board Web site said. The College Board is well known for its role organizing and administering the SAT tests and Advanced Placement classes in high schools across the country.

Caperton wants to sell the house because his position with the College Board has not allowed him much time to use it, Drennen said. Caperton, who lives in New York, used the house five or six times a year, mostly for weekend getaways, but sometimes to host retreat meetings for various boards he was on before his College Board position, Drennen said.

The house is listed by Betsy Wells at Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.'s Charles Town office and is co-listed by Drennen at Greg Didden Associates in Shepherdstown.

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