Several years ago, Kohle Yohannan was riding his motorcycle through Yonkers and passed what appeared to be a castle. He circled around, found his way to the property, and began trying to get in. For months, he knocked on the door and left notes. Yohannan told New York Magazine in a recent interview, "Finally, one day, the creaky door opened and the cats were flying and a little old lady came out. I told her some of the history I knew [about the castle], but it still took me a long time to get in.” He ended up offering the owner slightly under half a million dollars. “She told me that she sold it to me because I was stupid enough to think I could fix it!” says Yohannan.
Yohannan moved in seven years ago; since then, it’s been one long, painstaking restoration project, but the delight of unearthing treasures far exceeds the tedium of scraping paint. Example: The castle has a seventeenth-century carved-oak ceiling and Tiffany-glass windows. Ballet Russes choreographer Michel Fokine and his wife gave classes there when they owned the castle in the late thirties—and they left behind trunks of Diaghilev-era costumes that Yohannan stumbled on in the attic.
Yohannan now rents the house for films and photo shoots. "You never own a house like this," he says. "It owns you."
:new york magazine; images new york times