Cady Hill Comes to Market for $16 Million

Cady Hill Comes to Market for $16 Million

By Lisa Martin

cady hill estate

LR_CadyHill-01 (1)

SARATOGA SPRINGS LANDMARK. This expansive 120-acre estate enjoys a storied pedigree.

Published On: April 8, 20243.6 min read
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Cady Hill, an iconic estate in Saratoga Springs with ties to the first family of Thoroughbred racing, came to market on March 15. Set on 120 secluded acres in Upstate New York, Cady Hill boasts a 6,000-square-foot main residence, sumptuous gardens, and a peerless pedigree.

Colonial Heritage

John Hendrickson, the widower of Marylou Whitney (1925-2019), is asking $16 million for the property. A stagecoach stop during the colonial era, it boasted a tavern during the Revolutionary War that General George Washington purportedly visited. For the last 100 years, the estate has belonged to the heirs of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and Eli Whitney.

“It’s a very happy house,” says Hendrickson. Since his wife’s death, Hendrickson has redone all four stories plus the basement of the main residence, which dates from 1820. The place “makes me smile when I walk in because it’s bright, cheery, full of history and great memories,” he says. But in many ways, Hendrickson’s memories motivated him to part with the property: the extensive renovations aside, he still acutely feels the presence and loss of Marylou.

Queen of Saratoga

Well before he met his future wife, she had earned the “Queen of Saratoga” title thanks to her tireless philanthropy, formidable beauty, and vivacious personality. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Marylou worked as an actress and radio host. Her second husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt “Sonny” Whitney (1899-1992), purchased the property from his parents in 1936. Upon their marriage in the late 1950s, Marylou fell for the fabled resort community. The couple began spending summers there, and Marylou soon became a mover and shaker in the racing community.

“She was really the savior of Saratoga,” says Hendrickson, who wed Marylou five years after Sonny’s death. The New York Racing Association has described her legacy as no less than “an indelible part of Saratoga’s history.” When low attendance threatened to shutter the track in the 1970s, Marylou was widely credited with saving the Saratoga Race Course. The annual meet runs from mid-July to early September. In 2023, it generated an estimated $371 million for the local economy.

Marylou cared about the people associated with racing, not just her award-winning Thoroughbreds. (Bird Town won the Kentucky Oaks in 2003, and Birdstone won the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes in 2004.) The philanthropist established the first area clinic for backstretch workers, which has grown to serve thousands. Hendrickson continued her legacy by funding a state-of-the-art building in his late wife’s memory. She was also an unwavering patron of the local arts scene, including the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Iconic Estate

During their 22-year marriage, the couple split their time among their Kentucky horse property, Whitney Park, and Cady Hill.

“I was privileged to spend time with her here,” says Julie Bonacio, who has listed the estate at Julie & Co Realty. “About 25 of us would gather in the chapel for intimate Sunday services in the summer, then afterward we’d sit on the porch and talk.”

“We’d have Quaker-type services where everyone would get a chance to speak, ask for a prayer, or share a special memory,” Hendrickson says. “Marylou would go in there to reflect. It was the first place I’d look for her.”

The estate’s manicured rose gardens were another favorite spot. For her 85th birthday, Hendrickson commissioned a fragrant pink tea rose. The long-stem Mary Lou Whitney Rose, which took a full decade to develop, also adorns her namesake garden at Saratoga’s Congress Park. The park was dedicated to her in 2011 in thanks for all that she did for her beloved city.

Soon after Cady Hill hit the market, Bonacio began fielding interest from as far afield as Kentucky and Wellington, Florida.

For Hendrickson, who spends much of his time these days at his home in the Palm Beach area, the idea of selling Cady Hill remains bittersweet.

“Of course there’s sadness, but I’ve given it five years of thought,” he says. “This is a house that’s made for entertaining. I hope its next chapter brings many more parties and fun.”

GEORGE WASHINGTON DRANK HERE. John Hendrickson converted the historic tavern on the grounds into a nostalgic game room.

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