Smith, 53, just never expected to buy a castle with a view of Lake Norman from every window – for a sixth of its original asking price.
He and his wife, Denise, paid $4.4 million for Chateau Lyon, which cost $22 million to build and came fully furnished with 19th-century French antiques and 500 feet of shoreline. “The only thing missing was a microwave, and a washer and dryer,” Scott Smith said.
The May 18 sale of the foreclosed southern Iredell County estate was the highest priced home sale in the Charlotte area since 2009, according to Carolina MLS. Lake Norman Realty luxury associates Debbie Monroe and Amber Garchar brokered the sale of the 1½-acre bank-owned property.
More than a quarter of all U.S. home sales in the first quarter involved homes that were either in some stage of foreclosure or were bank-owned, including 12 percent of sales in North Carolina, according to real estate research firm RealtyTrac.
Chateau Lyon is off Interstate 77 Exit 31, in the gated Alexander Island community, at the end of Langtree Road in Mooresville.
The Smiths said they didn’t seek out such an ornate home but couldn’t resist when Scott’s older sister, Terri Bate, called it to their attention. Terri lives nearby off Langtree Road, as do their parents.
The home was built over six years by entrepreneurs Jane and Larry Hendricks, who completed their 8,700-square-foot dream castle in 2009. They lived in it only briefly, as their situation changed when their Boyles Furniture company filed for bankruptcy.
When Chateau Lyon returned to the market in September 2011, it attracted interest internationally and from local celebrities, Lake Norman Realty president Abigail Jennings said.
In January, the asking price dropped to $5.9 million. At the original auction 1-1/2 years ago, the price was $25 million, Scott Smith said.
Jennings calls the estate “an architectural masterpiece” inspired by the French limestone, soaring ceilings and antique ceramic roof tiles the Hendricks admired on their European travels. The estate includes French and Italian historic artifacts and masterpiece artisan reproductions.
The two-story home’s stone flooring was reclaimed from 600-year-old farmhouses bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Its grand foyer features a limestone fountain hand-carved in France. The half-bath to the right of the foyer has a sink that was converted from a black marble fountain in Paris.
The home has five bedrooms, six full baths and three half-baths “and is very livable,” Scott Smith said.
Its colors are azure, blues and watery greens. Its bronze bay windows replicate those adorning Hotel Le Meurice in Paris. The dining room’s paneling includes original paintings, gold-leaf paneling and antique fixtures taken directly from an early 1900s reproduction of Marie Antoinette’s summer home.
Chateau Lyon has a library, conservatory and theater. The library has a hidden door in a bookcase that conceals a half-bath. The master bedroom has a French antique marble fireplace and antique light fixtures, some covered in 22-karat gold.
The home has 13 air conditioners, and its heating, air conditioning and security systems are controlled by an iPad.
Its exterior walls are 20 inches thick and covered with French limestone. The roof is covered with 250-year-old tiles covered in zinc-coated copper. Copper is featured in one of the upstairs bathrooms, which has a solid copper tub valued at $65,000. The copper stove on the main floor? $110,000, Scott Smith said on a tour of the home Thursday with his wife and Piglet, their Yorkie-poodle mix.
The sunsets are stunning, Denise Smith said. The veranda looks westward across the water to The Point Lake and Golf Club, which real estate mogul Donald Trump bought for $3 million and is renaming Trump National Golf Club, Charlotte.
“It’s just gorgeous, and I figured I could work out the price with the bank,” Scott Smith said of the home.
Smith drives a 2005 Chevy pickup and shows up to work at 7 a.m. in shorts. Each Saturday, he mows the 25 acres of lawn at his company’s 80-acre Charlotte campus. “It takes me nine hours to cut it,” he said.
He’s so informal that one of the couple’s two teenage daughters needled him Thursday morning at their Charlotte home when he put on a dress shirt and long pants for an interviewwith the Observer. He wore his trademark running sneakers.
He has no choice but to continue working long hours at Morris Costumes so he can pay for the home, he quipped.
Lake Norman has always been dear to Smith, who’s owned a 2,200-square-foot home off Schooner Drive and Torrence Chapel Road in Cornelius since 1984. The Smiths intend to keep that home but sell their 5,500-square-foot custom home off Rocky River Road in the University area for $500,000.
Scott Smith said they’re considering leasing Chateau Lyon for a year for $12,000 a month before living in it the rest of their days.
“I can see us retiring here and our kids retiring in a home like this,” Scott Smith said. “It’s not something you can replace.”
Staff Writer Kerry Singe and Observer archives contributed.
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