An aerial view of the Howard compound on the border of Connecticut and New York state, about an hour outside Manhattan.
Say you're a fantastically successful Hollywood director -- but more than that, you're practically a piece of Americana. You're Richie Cunningham; you're Opie. You're an Oscar winner (naturally). You're the co-founder of Imagine Entertainment, director of fantasies like "Cocoon" and "Splash" as well as more high-minded films like "Apollo 13" and "A Beautiful Mind." You describe yourself as "StorySmith," and you've spun your yarns for whole generations of entertainment seekers. You even have an asteroid named after you, for heaven's sake.
So what kind of house do you build for yourself and your family?
Ron Howard and his high school sweetheart, Cheryl, wed almost 40 years ago. (Pictured below, from Howard's Instragram account, is the first picture ever taken of the two, back in 1970.) As the eldest of their four children, daughter Bryce Dallas Howard, was hitting her teens, “we moved 3,000 miles away from the hub of Los Angeles to raise our family here,” Ron Howard said.
They built the home after buying land in 1991 on the border of New York and Connecticut, in one of the nation's most exclusive gated communities, Conyers Farm.
"Compound" is a word applied frequently to celebrity homes, but this property deserves it. The Howards wanted to "make it a place where you practically don't have to go anywhere," Tamar Lurie of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage told Yahoo Homes. (Lurie holds the listing along with Lyn Stevens of Sotheby's International Realty; Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage's Steve Sawaii, a business consultant for the Howards, is the referring broker.)
It's a working farm on 32 acres abutting Converse Lake. You'll find stables and paddocks; a "sports barn" with an indoor tennis court and basketball facilities; an indoor-outdoor saltwater pool with sliding glass doors that bears a resemblance to the pool in "Cocoon" (but "we've discovered that you do age while swimming in [our] pool," Ron Howard told the Wall Street Journal); a two-story library; a greenhouse where, Lurie said, the Howards have cultivated "orchids and the like"; nature trails and numerous gardens (formal English, perennial, vegetable).
And let's not forget the Howards' personal observatory, equipped with a professional-grade Meade telescope. "I don't know of any other property I've ever been to that has anything like it," Lurie said.
The 17,000-square-foot main house almost seems beside the point in view of all the other amenities, but Lurie says the overarching feel of the home -- "the No. 1 feeling you get when you walk in" -- is the warmth, love and charisma of the family.
The home certainly does seem to have been lived in and loved. Two family weddings have been held there, and you can see the home in the background of family snapshots like this one from Ron Howard's Instagram account last month, of his younger brother, Clint:
The Howards achieved "exactly what they set out to do," Lurie said, and the result is "magnificent."
Howard and his wife feel the same.
“Whether we’re watching films in our theater, walking the trails throughout our property, star gazing in our observatory, or just relaxing with friends and loved ones by the lake, Cheryl and I feel we’ve accomplished the goals we set when we began work on this place," he said.
"Our children are grown, so it’s time to move on, but the memories of this very special place will never leave us."
Also on Yahoo Homes:
• A look at the Cunningham house on the 40th anniversary of 'Happy Days'
• Yogi Berra's home is as full of surprises as he is
• Meryl Streep aims for 50% gain on house she owned a year
• Robin Williams' 'Villa of Smiles' earns its name