An oceanfront estate in Newport, R.I., that once belonged to author Edith Wharton has sold for $8.6 million after almost a year on the market.
The property had originally been asking $11.7 million. Listing agent Kendra C. Toppa of Lila Delman, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, said the deal was agreed upon before the coronavirus pandemic began dominating the headlines. The buyers “wanted to stay the course,” she said.
Known as Land’s End, the property sits on about 5.6 acres with a 11,000-square-foot, nine-bedroom main house. It retains much of its historic detail, including original moldings and stone bench in the entry hall. It has a chintz-filled living room parlor with buttercream walls, a billiards room and french doors that open up to the ocean. There is also a room designed for cutting flowers from the garden.
Ms. Wharton, perhaps best known for her 1920 novel “The Age of Innocence,” bought the property with her then-husband, Edward Robbins Wharton, in 1893 for $80,000, or about $2.3 million in today’s dollars. In her autobiography, she described the property as an “ugly wooden house with half an acre of rock and illimitable miles of Atlantic Ocean.”
The sellers are Victoria Leiter Mele and her husband Joe Mele. The property was previously owned by Ms. Mele’s mother, Marion “Oatsie” Charles, a prominent Washington, D.C., socialite and a grand dame of Newport society. Ms. Charles died in 2018 at age 99.
Ms. Mele, reached by phone at her house in Florida, said she knew the buyers personally and was grateful that the deal had gone through despite the uncertainty of the pandemic.
The buyer’s agent, Kara Malkovich of Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty, identified them as a family from Connecticut who had previously spent summers in the Newport area.