Westchester horse farm sold for $3.8M has a circus past

A North Salem property fit for a showman has been sold.

The 25-acre equestrian farm has long been associated with the Bailey family, of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus fame.

Long before it was part of the film, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” Bailey Circus emerged as one of the country’s original circuses, founded in the early 19th century by Hachaliah Bailey. His son, George Fox Bailey, who joined him in the traveling circus and menagerie, owned this property in the 1840s.

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Known as Autumn Farms, the property includes a five bedroom home, pool, putting green, gardens, and equestrian facilities. It sold for $3.85 million. The listing agents were Joanna Rizoulis and Amy Smith-Sroka of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty agents; Sally Slater of Douglas Elliman represented the buyer.

Sellers Paul Friedman and his wife, Gillian updated the original home, taking great pains to retain original details such as the wide plank floors, an enormous hearth and leaded glass in the front and facade of the home. An addition in 2000 added a great room with 11-foot ceilings and a tricked-out Christopher Peacock kitchen.

The equestrian center includes two stables with tack rooms and stalls for 25 horses; a  heated and lighted 80-by-180-foot indoor ring with viewing area; 150-by-275-foot outdoor ring, Grand Prix field, eight paddocks, and grooms’ quarters.

Paul Friedman was executive producer of NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News Tonight. Most recently he was EVP with CBS News in charge of hard news.

Circus life

According to the North Salem Historical Society, George Bailey was one of the original greatest showmen as an early partner of P.T. Barnum.

Bailey came from a circus family: His father, Hackaliah Bailey, began what is considered North America’s first circus, the North Salem Circus, in the 1800s, a precursor to Barnum. George ran the circus during the Civil War and in 1875 acquired the P.T. Barnum Show, which Barnum continued to manage.

According to the listing agents, before George Bailey, the property was owned by a Levi Bailey, and after him, Charles Bailey. The town historian believes Charles is the one who constructed the property’s brick Greek Revival farmhouse at some point in the 1850s, though possibly it was George.

A different family who owned this property throughout the 20th century and ran it as a dairy farm maintains that Hachaliah himself constructed the home, but no one seems to know for sure.

Karen Croke is the features editor for lohud.com and poughkeepsiejournal.com. Find my stories here. Reach me at [email protected]