Here in Lexington, we are lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful architecture and impressive historic homes on a daily basis. Plenty of properties have a “wow” factor here and there; perhaps a collection of heirloom furniture, well-appointed lighting or fixtures, carefully crafted gardens, or an impressive view. But Black Diamond Estate at 3591 Paris Pike has all of that and much more. With the feel of a European villa and the convenience of modern-day luxury, the property is nothing short of spectacular.
This one-of-a-kind estate sits atop 63 acres, sharing borders with notable farms such as Gainesway, Spendthrift, Walmac, and historic Elmendorf. The cornerstone is the magnificent 17,000 square foot manor house with six bedrooms, a vast gourmet kitchen and butler’s pantry, a sprawling master suite, an office wing complete with guest apartments, an elevator, basement pub with theatre, sauna, and steam room.
But wait, there’s more. On the grounds of Black Diamond, you will find a resort-worthy 13,000 square foot pool house with a 29’ x 62’ pool, twin hot tubs, a huge entertainment area with a bar and fireplace, a 4 car garage with two apartments, a tennis court, a 20-stall barn, and striking water features including six fountains, a cascading waterfall and three accent ponds.
Those looking for the perfect Bluegrass retreat can rejoice – Black Diamond is currently on the market. Those interested may contact Mary Sue Walker with Justice Real Estate at 859.619.4770 for additional details.
Black Diamond is currently home to Mike Warner and his wife, Lea Ranier-Warner. According to Mike, the property has been a part of his life for nearly thirty years. His company, Warner Builders, is responsible for the extensive restoration Black Diamond has undergone, including the amazing hand carved millwork and diamond motifs that can be seen throughout the property. “We are a family business going back four generations, and three of those generations have worked on this home,” he said.
Mike and his team of craftsmen began the original restoration in 1987, which included the construction of the pool house, conversion of the original 4-car garage to an office suite, and updates to the barn.
The original owners of Black Diamond were Tommy and Linda Hall of Bittersweet Farms. In 1995, the property was sold to Harold Sargent and family, a businessman in the coal industry. While the estate originally consisted of 18 acres, several years ago, the Sargents annexed additional anchorage from Walmac Farm, bringing it to its current 63 acres. While out-of-state investors currently own the property, Mike Warner and his family are “house sitting” if you will, until they reach a final decision on the location of their future home. In the meantime, Black Diamond is exquisitely furnished with the Warners’ assortment of eclectic antiques, art, décor and furnishings. “My mother and father-in law are lifetime collectors, and the furniture you see comes from all over the world,” he said.
Visitors of Black Diamond enter through an ornate wrought iron gate, and continue down a winding brick path dotted with graceful landscaping and outdoor lamps resembling turn of the century streetlights. The open floor plan of the manor house features intricately detailed woodwork, soaring ceilings, arched doorways, and hardwood floors throughout – all finished with meticulous attention to detail. Flooring by Rodgers Décor and More in Versailles compliments the diamond pattern seen in the millwork above. “We are extremely proud of the workmanship that has gone into this house. I have personally supervised, built, or installed everything you see here,” said Mike.
Upon entering the foyer, a raised paneled, hand carved archway opens up to a two-story gallery with an ornamental balustrade accented by a Swarovski crystal chandelier. The 31-foot curved window provides an abundance of natural light and looks out onto the lush landscaping beyond, including the patio, fountain and pond. The platform showcases a solid walnut custom made Steinway Louis XV baby grand piano. One can easily imagine the window area as the perfect presentation for a two-story Christmas tree during the holiday season. Inside the great room, one cannot resist gazing upward at the dazzling hand-carved woodwork painted a shade of luminous white.
It is quite a challenge to retain the same level of character and individual style from room to room while keeping in harmony with the rest of the home, but the Warners have done so beautifully. A major change to the great room involved converting the right side, what was a mirror image of the left sitting area, to a formal dining area. The original dining room was converted to a cozy sitting room, furnished with a charming mix of eclectic antiques, including a game table that once belonged to Eleanor Roosevelt when she occupied the White House. Moving the formal dining table to the great room creates an ideal space for conversation and mingling. “This really is a great house for entertaining,” Mike said. “We recently hosted a large group for a wedding party and everyone was able to stay with us on the property.”
Designed to accommodate the most professional of chefs, the heart of the home is the New York style kitchen. Complete with Sub-Zero refrigerators and refrigerated drawers, professional grade Kohler prep sinks and Thermador double built-in ovens, the space is both cozy and luxurious, encouraging intimate gatherings and large events alike. Black granite countertops and custom cabinetry by Greg Butcher Design add an air of elegance.
The opulent and spacious master suite features two fireplaces, plus a sitting area with wet bar and solarium overlooking the backyard. A vintage Lucite butler’s table in the sitting room adds an unexpected but perfectly coordinated touch. The vaulted beamed ceiling features a unique catwalk-inspired design, which opens up to the skylights above.
The master bath features the same glittering Swarovski crystal doorknobs and drawer pulls found throughout the home, as well as heated marble floors and a marble shower with twin showerheads. The adjoining loft has been converted to a dressing room with a cedar walk-in wardrobe, complete with an elegant spiral staircase.
The main floor also includes a library, a billiard room with oak spiral staircase, a full butler’s kitchen, breakfast room, morning room and keeping room with fireplace.
While Black Diamond certainly offers everything a homeowner may desire in terms of entertaining and family living, the office wing, originally built by Warner Builders for Mr. Sargent to accommodate international coal clients, offers a rich setting for conducting business and professional affairs. Double French doors flank the entrance, ushering visitors into a reception room with exquisite molding, brick walls and large, corner-to-corner windows. Two gorgeous offices, a conference room, a half bath and lounge complete the suite. The second floor contains two guest suites for business guests staying for an extended period of time.
Parties at Black Diamond are an effortless and unique experience, thanks to the fully furnished pub located in the lower level. Fashioned from dark cherry wood and granite, the pub has a masculine feel, plenty of attention to detail, and finely crafted touches. A game room and state-of-the-art home theater and media room make the pub the ultimate in home entertaining, while a well-appointed spa with sauna, hot tub, steam and half bath offers a personal retreat to rejuvenate the body and mind.
The wine cellar features a series of unique hand-carved panels depicting the process of wine making. Mike explained, “Those panels were created by a group of artisans from Honduras. If you look closely, they tell the story of creating wine from the planting, harvesting, and pressing of the grapes.” Mike also explained that the last panel shows the winemaker “passed out”, presumably from drinking a little too much wine. It just goes to show that it’s possible to tastefully add a bit of humor and personality to a fine home.
The ultimate escape of Black Diamond can be found behind the many double French doors of its exquisite pool house. The 13,223 total square footage includes a 29 x 62’ in-ground pool with matching whirlpool jacuzzis. The ceramic interior and pool deck is heated from below. The 72 retractable skylights can be used to bring the pleasant weather indoors, and the nearly 6,000 square feet of brick patio makes it easy to enjoy sunbathing and outdoor entertaining.
Beyond the pool is an airy entertaining area with a full kitchen, his and her dressing rooms, a granite bar, and a brass and copper fireplace. Ascending the winding staircase, guests will discover a master suite including bedroom and bath, sitting and dining areas with two wet bars, all connected to an expansive balcony that overlooks the pool area. All furnishings, décor and millwork echo the design of the manor house.
Further accommodations can be found in the 4-car garage, which contains two guest apartments. The first includes a full custom kitchen, washing machine and dryer, and marble baths. The second is a studio with sleeping, living and dining areas. A balcony in the rear sits atop a 720-square foot greenhouse.
Gorgeous ponds are kept in continuous harmony by the use of a redirected natural water source. Flanked by tranquil weeping willow trees, the main pond is connected by a brick path that winds down to a second pond, where a natural cascading waterfall rushes over natural rock. The ponds and waterfall inspire reflection and relaxation, while an illuminated tennis court encourages physical activity. The 20-stall horse barn contains a customized office and lounge with crown molding, wainscoting, beadboard ceiling, and a half bath. The adjoining paddock and tree-lined, rolling hills complete this idyllic scene.
While he knows his family will only occupy Black Diamond until it is sold, Mike is proud of the work his company has done to enhance this quintessential class Bluegrass estate, and hopes that the future buyer will love it just as much as he does. •
Interior Photography by Shaun Ring