Henry and Tricia Semmelhack meticulously worked on their dream house when it was built 33 years ago.
The retired couple — both of whom are known throughout the Buffalo business community — are taking the same meticulous approach in selling their 6,100-square-foot, specially designed Town of Elma residence that sits on 35 acres of land and offers an idyllic setting overlooking Cazenovia Creek.
The campus-like property has gone on the market with a $1.7 million asking price and has been listed with Howard Hanna Real Estate’s Sue DePriest and Chrissy Hoffman.
Both DePriest and Hoffman have had already hosted a few showings, with more planned.
“People find the house a complete but pleasant surprise,” Hoffman said. “It’s amazing how the house sits on the property.”
A combination of the house’s modern, open design — created by Hamilton Houston Lownie’s Frederic Houston and built by Sherwood Stoll Construction Corp. — coupled with its expanse and asking price makes it one of the most unique residential offerings on the marketplace. It is also serves as a snapshot of the region’s emerging high-end residential real estate market.
Sentiments aside, the Semmelhacks said the time to sell their “dream” house is right, for a variety reasons, ranging from their own estate planning to taking advantage of the marketplace.
“We decided to manage the process,” Henry Semmelhack said of the plan to downsize. “It makes more sense to do this now than leave to our children to deal with later.”
All three of Semmelhack’s children live out of the area.
“I don’t think they mind,” said Tricia Semmelhack.
The Semmelhacks will remain area residents once a buyer is found for their property.
Henry Semmelhack, at various times was chairman and CEO of such companies as Comptek Research Inc. and Barrister Global Services Network Inc., while his wife, Tricia, is a former partner with the Hodgson Russ LLP law firm.
The couple bought the 35 acres, located on Willardshire Road along the Orchard Park/Elma border, in 1983 with the intent of designing not only their dream house but also one that represented their interest in American Postmodern residential architecture.
The property is loaded with black walnut, oak, sugar maple and hemlock trees.
With 1,800 feet of water’s edge property along Cazenovia Creek, the property is haven for a wide variety of animals including fox, deer, bald eagles and blue herons.
“We never bought this on spec,” Henry Semmelhack said. “We bought this land to be our home.”
The house includes four bedrooms and spacious living, dining and media rooms along with a large library and kitchen. All are light and airy with lots of windows to showcase the rustic surroundings. A long and winding road that goes past a barn and paddock for the couple’s three elderly llamas leads to the main house.
Yet, despite its postmodern design, there is a simplicity found in the house and its stepped interior and exterior motif.
“We wanted it to be practical,” Henry Semmelhack said. “A lot of thought went into the design. It’s not like we woke up one morning and decided to build a house. Both Tricia and I were very deliberate.”
Tricia Semmelhack said Houston presented the couple with a trio of designs before they settled on the home’s final look.
“I didn’t say we wanted, for instance, this design or that design,” Tricia Semmelhack said. “We said we wanted something unique that would make a statement. Our statement.”
Inside the walls are tall and the paint is bright. While some artwork hangs on the wall, mostly they are free of paintings that would distract from the house’s unique architecture.
The large number of windows offer picturesque views of the property.
“Nature is our paint,” Henry Semmelhack said. “We’ve been here 33 years and to this day, I still look around and see different colors and space because of the way light comes through the windows. There are no dark spots in the house.”