In 1912, Eversley Childs, a businessman who eventually become president of the family-owned company that manufactured Bon Ami cleaning products, built a Colonial mansion in Old Field for his daughter Dorothy as a wedding present.
Years later, it was transformed into an Italian palace, a labor of love and a return to the Mediterranean roots for the parents of the three children who are now selling the home.
The eight-bedroom mansion, which sits between Flax Pond and Smithtown Bay, is listed for $3.75 million.
In the early 1940s, the Childs family — which also owned a 500-acre estate in the area named Crane Neck Farms – donated the house and the surrounding 34 acres to the Salvation Army to be used as an orphanage until 1959, when it was purchased by the Whitsit family.
In 1987, Anthony and Joyce Marano-Ducarne purchased the home from the Whitsits and took on a major renovation, restoring the decorative moldings and cherry and poplar woodwork and adding many of their own touches, including a yellow stucco facade, a red tile roof and imported marble and granite for the floors. The structure looks like it was plucked from the hills of Tuscany or Sicily, where Anthony Marano-Ducarne was from.
“A lot of it needed to be redone because it wasn’t in great condition,” says Marcella Viscosi, 52, the daughter of the Marano-Ducarnes’, and whose 1993 wedding took place in the home. “If it was going to be redone, my father was going to redo it in the style he always dreamed of, which was an Italian villa.”
A mural in the living room, commissioned by the Marano-Ducarnes, depicts a shepherd boy carrying a sheep, based on an image from an Easter card that Anthony Marano-Ducarne’s sister had given him. The couple also added a two-horse stable to the property and added stairs down to a beach on Smithtown Bay.
After purchasing the home, Marano-Ducarnes later learned that the Crane Neck area had once been owned by a distant relative, Ambrosio de Spinola. De Spinola’s family were Doges of Genoa, Italy, and after he moved to America he had married the daughter of a Revolutionary War officer. The land was in the family from 1820 until 1902, when Childs purchased it.
“It was a surprise,” says Viscosi’s brother, Marcantonio Marano. “It wasn’t something he knew moving into the area. He found it when he was researching the history of either the family or the area.”
The Marano-Ducarnes home was a highlight of the Three Village Historical Society’s 1993 candlelight house tour and the couple often held fundraisers for the Long Island Opera Guild and Stony Brook University in the home.
Anthony died in September 2016, while Joyce died in November 2017.
“The home was very fitting to our father,” says Marano, 46, who runs Grimac Royal Falcon Corp., the espresso machine and coffee importing and distribution company that his father founded after retiring as head of sales for an international airfreight company. “My mom, who is not Italian, played along with it.”
Marano sees many parallels between his father and Childs – and some eerie connections.
Before Marano-Ducarnes knew about Childs’ connection to the company, he would always recommend using Bon Ami over Ajax, according to Viscosi.
“It was his dream to build a place for his family,” Marano says. “Every day that I came downstairs I was in awe that I lived in this place.”
The property is listed with Lynn Sabatelle and Michael O’Dwyer of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.