For 20 years, while driving to their more modest vacation home, Leslie and Tom Sodano passed a beautiful stone house in the Poconos and wondered what it was like inside.
In the summer of 2006, Tom learned that a friend had bought the stone house three years earlier. When the friend invited the Sodanos to visit, they marveled at the sweep of lawn edged with tall pines and pink and purple rhododendrons. From the patio and deck, they viewed Lake Naomi across the road. They admired the center hall, the dining and living rooms with stone fireplaces and maple flooring, and the kitchen’s pickled pine cabinetry, two islands, two sinks, and supersized stainless steel refrigerator and stove.
In December that year, the Sodanos purchased the house from their friend. “I knew I was meant to be here,” Leslie said.
The couple were living at the time in Singapore, where Tom was a banking executive. They spent Christmas break and summer vacations in the stone house until 2016 when Tom retired, and it became their full-time residence.
While researching the house, Leslie discovered she and Tom were repeating history. Frank Comfort Miller and his wife, Kate, had built the house in 1922 for their retirement. The façade was to be stucco, but when the Millers got a good offer for their home in Easton, they used the more expensive stone.
Frank was a well-known entrepreneur in the Poconos. In the late 1880s, he acquired acres of woodland and built a boarding house for summer visitors. In 1893, he formed a company to dam a creek and create a lake for ice harvesting. For more than 20 years, blocks of ice were cut from the lake, packed in sawdust, and loaded onto rail cars on nearby train tracks (now gone) to be transported to Philadelphia and elsewhere. In the summer, the lake was used for fishing and boating.
Frank and Kate died in the 1930s, and their heirs held on to the house even after selling surrounding woods in the 1950s to the developer of Lake Naomi Club, a residential recreational community.
The house was auctioned in 1995, and the buyers did extensive renovations. Plaster walls were replaced with insulation and wall board, new double-paned windows and heating and air conditioning were installed. Bathrooms and kitchens were renovated, and a powder room and back porch were added. The second-floor landing was fitted with laundry facilities, storage closets, and cupboards.
When the Sodanos moved in, most rooms had been painted Restoration Hardware’s Silver Sage with glossy white trim. Leslie said the shade was her “go-to neutral color” in a previous home in New Jersey.
She furnished her new home with items from local antiques stores and house sales. “I’m a scavenger,” she said, pointing to a vintage sewing machine (which still works) that she had rescued from a recycling bin. She also has a computerized machine in the sewing room on the second floor, which also has a sitting room, two bedrooms and two baths.
Leslie’s whimsical pillows decorate sofas, chairs and beds, and she made the brightly patterned cushions for the wicker patio furniture. For the living room, she splurged on two custom-made blue couches with white piping from Penn Furniture in Scranton. The floral patterned rug came from the same store. Several red lacquered chests from Singapore add bursts of color.
A baby grand piano has moved with the Sodanos to several states, to London and to Singapore as Tom pursued his career. The Sodanos’ daughter Shannon, 35 and living in Brooklyn, is an accomplished musician and plays the piano when she visits. Son Dustin, 26, lives in San Francisco. Son Thomas, 32, lives in the Poconos.
The Sodanos added a bathroom and two skylights on the third floor where there are two bedrooms.
Walls are decorated with items from afar, such as a red ceramic plate from Italy, and an intricate pictorial from India, as well as ethereal watercolors by Pocono artist Milan Melicharek.
Last summer the Sodanos opened their home for a tour benefiting the local library. Many tour visitors said that they, like the Sodanos, had driven past the beautiful stone house for years and “wondered what it was like inside.”
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