New York couple's plans for mansion impress neighbors $3 million stucco house would be largest in Charlotte region

May 21, 1998|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

WEDDINGTON, N.C. -- A mansion being built here has everything you'd want in a new home and more: a movie theater, a wine cellar, a fitness room, a ballroom dance floor, a library, an elevator and a 30-by-60-foot outdoor pool.

Oh, and let's not forget the 14 bathrooms.

Welcome to the future home of Arthur and Charlotte Mott, a Long Island, N.Y., couple who are giving up those chilly northeastern winters for a country estate in southern North Carolina.

And not just any country estate. With nearly 23,000 square feet, their 42-room, $3 million stucco house would be the largest house in the Charlotte region.

"He wanted it big," builder Roger Post says. "He got it big."

No argument from Mott, a 63-year-old real estate investor who remembers growing up on welfare. "I guess it's a measure of success in my mind."

Neighbors are getting used to seeing curiosity seekers drive by for a glimpse of a big house.

Right across the road is the 18,600-square-foot home of Don and Ruth Storms, who moved last year into a new house that was then one of the five largest homes in the region.

'It's unbelievable'

"It's hard to say, 'There goes the neighborhood,' " says Scott Lett, a real estate marketing specialist who lives nearby. "It's unbelievable... . It's [like] a battle of huge houses."

The Motts have no question that Union, the fastest-growing county in the Charlotte region, is the place for them and their four children, ages 3 to 13.

The couple piled the kids into their motor home two summers ago and began looking at property all over Virginia and North Carolina.

"I knew nothing about the area, but when we drove through it, I said, 'Arthur, this is it,' " says Charlotte Mott, 46, adding they found their dream spot in February 1996. "We saw it on Friday. Saturday afternoon, we wrote a check."

And a big check it was - $440,000 for 15 acres that had been assessed in 1992 at $140,200, according to county tax records.

The couple later added another four acres and hired Post to turn a Scholz Design for a 9,993-square-foot house into a mansion with 2 times as much living space. Scholz, from Ohio-based Masco, specializes in large, luxury homes.

Were the Motts influenced at all by the mansion across the road?

"I couldn't believe he did what was my dream to do: Find a piece of property and put a large home on it," Arthur Mott said. "When Roger built [our] house, I said in jest, 'Let's make sure it's 10 feet longer than Storms'.'"

Taking shape

Actually, it's about 5,000 square feet bigger, but it by no means tops the size chart in a state that boasts the country's largest private residence - the 250-room, 175,000-square-foot Biltmor in Asheville. The Motts plan to move from their 8,000-square-foot lakefront Long Island home into their Union County house next summer, but for now, it's Post's baby.

He knows the measurements of every room, every hallway.

"I hate to go home at night," says Post, taking a break as workers saw nearby. "You go to sleep with it, you wake up with it."

The estate is a year away from completion, but it's already taking shape.

Trees that covered the front of the property have been cleared for a fountain and a circular drive. The property will have a stone and metal fence around it, with gates controlled by the occupants.

The front door will open into a 38-by-18 granite-floored foyer with 22-foot ceilings and a double-curved staircase.

Turn right and you'll find a 30-by-24 dining room and a 22-by-24 family room that looks out on: the 30-by-60 pool, two 900-square-foot pool houses (one for adults and one for children), a 4,600-square-foot garage apartment for two employees and an existing 2,000-square-foot frame house that has been relocated from the center of the property. Turn left and you can visit a 30-by-20 library, a 20-by-18 master bathroom, and a 22-by-30 master bedroom with 20-foot-deep closets. In all there are 142 windows and doors, six chandeliers and hundreds of outlets, switches and fixtures.

Want to get a view of the Union County countryside? Walk over to a rear main hall that has 6-by-9 windows, each of which required six workers to lift into place. Halfway up three walls are bookshelves and a catwalk.

The second floor has seven bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The basement is no basement; it's full of living space, from the movie theater and dance floor to a playroom with a soda fountain for the kids.

Sure, it's a big house, Post said. But he said the Motts are ordinary people. He washes the car; she does her own shopping.

Charlotte Mott, a real estate agent who worked for years as a waitress at her family's Long Island restaurant, said the couple try not to spoil the kids. The children set the table and clean their rooms, she said. Charlotte Mott said the couple plan to send two children to public schools and one to private school.

And what do the neighbors think of all this?

"I tell you, it's terrible," said one neighbor, who asked not to be identified. "Why do they want such houses? Show, that's all."

But Sarah Stanson, 46, who's lived with her family in a nearby house for 28 years, says the Mott home might even increase the value of other houses.

"If I had the money," she added, "I'd build me a big one."

Sarah Haywood, a retiree whose father and grandfather ran a now-closed general store, thinks all the changes are exciting.

Nowadays people stop by, asking for directions to the big house. Soon they'll need directions to two big houses.

The houses are "a calling card for our area," she said. "We welcome something pretty like that instead of industry."

Haywood said she looks forward to meeting the Motts and perhaps becoming friends with them. Told that Charlotte Mott does her own shopping, Haywood nodded approvingly. "Does her own shopping? Sounds nice. Maybe we can go to the movies sometime."

Pub Date: 5/21/98

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