Did you know that Taylor Swift is named after James Taylor? Now you know. James Taylor is a renowned musician who began playing the guitar in his teens as he listened to Harry Belafonte, Judy Garland, Nina Simone and Lead Belly. Despite having had a tumultuous childhood, including depression that led to being admitted to a psychiatric hospital and a drug addiction, James used the loneliness and anxiety as inspiration for his songwriting skills. Therefore, his first big hit was about the suicide of a friend. However, none of this musical talent would have been achieved were it not for his mother making their home a creative space for James and his siblings. Here is your chance to get a tour of James Taylor’s $1.6 million home in Chapel Hill, NC and learn why he chose to settle in Berkshire.
How It Came to be James Taylor’s Home
James was only five when his physician father, Ike Taylor, accepted a teaching post at UNC (University of North Carolina) Medical School. As a result, Ike moved the entire family to North Carolina despite his wife, Trudy Taylor being against it because she hated the politics in North Carolina. Trudy viewed North Carolina as a lost Eden. To occupy her time, she would spend her days in protests, sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and taking her children to Martha’s Vineyard during Summer hoping to “restore the family’s Yankee credentials” as published by The Guardian.
After the family bought 24 acres of land in Chapel Hill, Trudy sought the help of architect George Matsumoto to design for her a modernist home. Unfortunately, the two failed to see eye to eye on certain things; hence Trudy let him go and hired John Latimer to complete the job. For twenty years, the family lived in the house, and Trudy kept improving it to accommodate her children’s growing love for music. She noticed that James and Livingston were interested in playing music seriously; thus, she designed a clubhouse for them outside of the main house. Besides, to ensure each child did not disrupt another, the children’s bedrooms were such that each would access the outside without going through the other rooms. Unfortunately, Trudy and Ike divorced thus sold the house to Pat and Jim Johnston in 1974.
More about the House
The house was originally built as a four-bedroom but renovated to a seven-bedroom, five-bath home. The 590 sq. ft. clubhouse meant for James and his brother, Livingstone, comprised two bedrooms, a bath, a large living room and a deck; you can still find James’ initials carved into the deck. The 3172 sq. ft. main house, on the other hand, comprises five bedrooms, five baths, kitchen, den, terraces large enough for outdoor entertaining, a wrap-around balcony and a two-car carport. Most of the walls are glass except for a few with wood paneling, but the floor is wood throughout the house. The mezzanine living room is furnished with a black leather sofa and an area rug on which sits a wooden round table. You cannot fail to notice the large granite accented fireplace across the sofa. The living room opens up to the dining area with pendant lights adding to its appeal while the modern dining chairs and a rectangular glass top dining table complete the formal look. Trudy must have been into natural lighting because the bedroom’s glass windows allow as much natural light as possible. Her love for nature is evident in the trees and shrubs at the back of the house, a greenhouse and planters on the railings. As a mother who put her children’s first, Trudy also designed a playhouse as she was determined to have them as active and creative as possible.
It Was Sold via Auction
When the house was put up for sale by Jim and Pat’s heirs, it was listed for $1,537,669, but then it was set to be auctioned and sold to the highest bidder. Bids were accepted until June 29, 2016, at 3 pm where the top three bidders would be invited for a second round to determine the winner. The president of AuctionFirst, Sonke, said that although many speculated what the buyer would do with the house, hoping the character of the house would be preserved, the auctioneer’s job was to sell the house. Whatever the buyer chose to do with the house was up to him.
For the first time, the house was open for public tours, and it attracted lots of art enthusiasts. However, details of the sale remained undisclosed until August 9, 2016. On August 15, 2016, Business Journal reported that a Manhattan couple had won the bid. James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach are renowned art benefactors who in 2015 were ranked among the top 200 art collectors in the United States. They paid $1.66 million to be the new owners of the home which they intended to restore and preserve the 24 acres on which it sits.
He Now Lives in Berkshire
According to Hampton Terrace, James and his current wife, Kim met at Tanglewood in 1993 and got married in 2001. In 2002, they welcomed twin boys, and it became important for the couple to decide where best to raise their family. They picked a few places; there was Paris, where James and Kim hoped the twins would be bilingual by the age of two but they didn’t. The couple then moved to Sun Valley in California as they waited for the Lenox part-time home to be renovated.
They started looking for a school for the preschooler sons, but when they heard schools emphasizing where their alumni went to college, James and Kim felt it would put unnecessary pressure on their sons. Consequently, they decided to settle in Lenox. As a charitable man, James’s decision to settle in Lenox has also helped him in his philanthropic efforts. Every summer he performs many shows whose proceeds are directed towards Tanglewood, a music venue where his wife Kim spent most of her time as a marketing director promoting it.