“When you arrive in Millbrook, you are transported into another place and time,” says shipping businessman Peter Georgiopoulos. And although he had grown up spending family summers in Southampton, appreciating the Long Island windmills and sea views, a trip to Millbrook, N.Y. had lured him to buy a house in horse country instead. “No matter what is going on in my life, I feel I’m in a peaceful place when I’m in Millbrook,” he says.
Georgiopoulos knew he was in love when he met Kara, a Vogue model with coltish long legs and a winning smile, but considering her occupation, he had a nagging worry that she would be a girl who wanted a house in the Hamptons. Driving up the dusty road of US Route 44 without a car in sight—unlike the congested Montauk Highway—and overlooking the rolling hills, apple orchards, horse farms and vast verdant open spaces, he observed his girlfriend’s reaction like a hawk, as she breathed in the air and scenery. Both a smile of relief and satisfaction spread on his face when she turned to her future husband and said, “I love this place.”
Millbrook is a place that does that to couples. Kirk Henckels and Fernanda Kellogg—who oversees the annual fox hunt and Fitch’s Corner Horse Trials where over 200 horses compete in dressage, cross country and stadium show jumping and guests roam while sipping “Kirk’s Ice Tea and Mount Gay rum”—had much of their courtship on horseback. Henckels, the Executive Vice President, Director of Stribling Private Brokerage, proposed to Kellogg while riding near one of the area’s pristine lakes. Frédéric Fekkai, whose eponymous hair salons and shampoos have made him a fortune, also chose a 150-year-old farmhouse on 350 acres in Millbrook as his retreat. “I love the shooting, the hunting, the riding, the life here, the simplicity,” he says. And naturally, when he was dating public relations executive Shirin von Wulffen, who luckily had grown up on a horse farm in Virginia, their mutual love of rural life bonded them. As she told Elle Décor, “You can be a country girl who likes New York City.”
In fact, many of the residents who come to Millbrook are from New York. Just eighty miles from Manhattan and situated on 1.9-square-miles, 19th century colonial mansions rest upon acres and acres of Millbrook’s untainted terrain. Still, it is a place steeped in contrast. The town is playfully described as “Horses and Porsches,” and its main street, Franklin Avenue, offers everything from upscale restaurants serving pricey cuts of organic beef to reasonably priced meals at the local diner. And while weekenders seek respite in the town’s sprawling fields and tranquil setting—a far cry from the energy and excitement of the city—full-time residents quietly raise their families. Local residents include Paulina and Ric Ocasek, Bette Midler and Martin von Haselberg, Barbara and Donald Tober, Parker and Oakleigh Thorne, Blaine Trump and the Colley family, who have been to polo in the United States what Marco Polo was to exploration.