Photography by ChiChi Ubiña
Purchase, NY is a town with plenty of history, from revolutionary war battle sites to colonial era homes and, more recently, MasterCard’s headquarters, a huge building designed by I.M. Pei in 1979. But within Purchase, NY, there is a place by the same name that also boasts its own storied past. “Purchase” estate on Anderson Hill Road dates back to the early nineteenth century. The original home was built and owned by Mr. Joseph Anderson, a member of congress, in the early 1800s. The road which the estate sits on is named after Anderson, and his family’s burial ground can still be found on the street, with graves dating back to 1763.
Nearly 100 years ago, Megan Flanigan’s grandfather, Horace Flanigan, bought the twenty-two acre property, and it has remained in the family ever since. Originally intending to renovate the main residence as a spec house, Horace ultimately decided to make Purchase his family home. Since then, the estate has remained in Flanigan hands, and Megan now manages the property, having purchased it after her parents’ passing. She has worked to renovate many aspects of the estate, including restoring the wood floors and walls, resurfacing the tennis court, and, most especially, maintaining the gardens and orchard.
Over the years, the property has gone through several iterations. In addition to the main home, there is a guest house and “the dorm,” once Mr. Anderson’s barn but transformed by Megan’s grandparents in 1935 into an additional house and redecorated by Sister Parish in the 1970’s, and another barn that was used to breed dogs and keep horses during Megan’s childhood. Other structures on the property are lived in by the caretaker and those who have been part of Purchase for over 30 years.
In addition to the interiors, much of the surrounding property is lovingly cared for by Flanigan. Originally conceived by her own parents, the gardens produce a beautiful array of flowers, vegetables, and are also home to an orchard. “My father and mother had amazing vision,” says Flanigan. “The gardens were planned by them not for the next season but for ten to twenty years into the future.” And the proof here is in the pudding, as Flanigan’s plants continue to thrive.
For a house with so much history, there are still plenty of opportunities to make new memories and create new traditions. There are the ongoing ones, like Santa Claus’s visit during the holidays, a stop he has made for over 70 years, greeting children in the dorm. And there are the unexpected new ones, like taking in friends during Covid. “We love it,” says Flanigan. “We work hard to make it beautiful and continue traditions and create new ones.”