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Fitch’s Corner
March 27, 2024

Fitch’s Corner

The Care and Keeping of a Historic Farm

By Tara Kelly

Photos by Antoine Bootz

Fitch’s Corner, with its iconic gray, red, and green color scheme, on Mabbettsville Road in Millbrook, is the country home and horse farm of Fernanda Kellogg and her husband, Kirk Henckels. It has long been a fixture in the community. For 25 years it was the home of the Fitch’s Corner Horse Trials, an annual destination event for serious riders, and for longer than Kellogg can say, it’s been a meeting place for the Millbrook Hunt, of which she is now a master.

All this is very fitting. Kellogg says she bought the property because, “I wanted to have the horses at home.” In addition to lots of paddocks it had a seven-stall barn, (now increased to 15). Both Kellogg and Henckels are life-long equestrians, though Henckels grew up riding Western. “He was the 4-H Texas state champion in 1970,” says Kellogg. The farmhouse, when Kellogg first saw it, hadn’t been updated in decades. “It was a rabbit warren. Very 1940s. There was a staff dining room, a flower room, eight or nine bedrooms, almost all of them interconnecting; all very typical of that era of house,” Kellogg says. “And four staircases, one hidden behind paneling,” Henckels adds. “It had been the home of the Hanes family, the underwear brand, and they raised their children and sporting dogs there.” 

Kellogg and Henckels met in 1995. “We had a million friends in common,” says Henckels. “And when Kirk came to Millbrook, everyone started doing their thing and putting us together,” Kellogg says. It worked, and they married at Fitch’s Corner in the summer of 1998. 

Then they set about updating the house and restoring the gardens. “There was not a square inch that you could expand, but we improved the flow between the rooms,” says Kellogg. “The staff dining room became our shared office, upstairs we added more bathrooms, the dog room became my tool room, and the occasional dog grooming salon,” says Henckels.

The gardens, which wrap around the back and sides of the house, had some historic features as well. Peony bushes lined the perimeter fencing. Brick borders and paths still outlined the various gardens. “It was such a lovely lay-out you’d have to be an idiot to change it,” says Henckels. But it did need to be refreshed. 

Kellogg says, “When we got married, many of our friends gave us trees for wedding presents.” Henckels ticks off the list. “The crab apples, the dogwood, the pine tree, and the birches by the barn.” They all bring special meaning to the landscape.

While the garden is mainly Henckels purview, Kellogg is famous for her tablescapes. In truth, Kellogg and Henckels share the same passions. “We are both inveterate collectors and generally like the same things. I have a tendency toward English, and Fernanda, because of her family, is more continental,” says Henckels. Their copious silver collection, inherited from both their families, has been added to over time. “Whenever something catches our eye,” says Kellogg.

As befitting a master of the Millbrook Hunt, Kellogg indulges a love of sporting art. Important English horse paintings share wall space with eclectic auction finds. Henckels admits to “a fetish for fox and hound-themed stirrup cups” displayed throughout the living room and library. 

“I think of this house as being well-occupied by family and friends,”says Kellogg. Henckels says, “There are times when I thought it would explode, but on the whole, it behaves itself.” 

The country life is well represented both inside and out. These days, the cross-country course is still available for schooling, the Millbrook Hunt still rides across the land, and Kellogg, who is on the board of the Dutchess Land Conservancy, has put the property in conservation. “I think of us as stewards of the land,” Kellogg says. And of course, of the house, too.