Prairie Estate buyers prepare to move from the Seattle area

The Windy Hill Estate, former home of the late Nancy Imes, is depicted in this aerial photograph. A Seattle-area couple bought the estate at auction and plan to move to Mississippi.

Buying a new home through an auction isn’t the ideal process, especially a multimillion-dollar property like Windy Hill, a sprawling 128-acre estate in the Prairie region. of Lowndes County.

“The bidding process was new to us, so we had to learn what it meant,” said Suzanne DeLyle, who along with her husband, Atle Larsen, placed the winning bid on the property on May 12. “When you win the auction, you have 30 days to close. You don’t know you’re going to win. You gather your finances, put your house on the market, make plans, but what if you don’t win? Since winning, we’ve traveled at full speed trying to accomplish so much. It’s not a simple gesture, far from it.

Windy Hill is the 11,000 square foot French Norman-inspired estate of Nancy Imes, who died in March 2021 at the age of 92. Nancy Imes was the wife of former Dispatch editor Birney Imes II, mother of former Dispatch editor Birney Imes III and grandmother of current editor Peter Imes.

The house, completed in 1998, reflects the refined style and extensive travels of its owner. In collaboration with renowned architect Ken Tate, his wife, interior designer Charme Tate and renowned landscape architect René Fransen, Nancy Imes has created a home where no detail has been overlooked. Its lush gardens, courtyards and porches make the outdoors as ideal for entertaining as the indoors.

“I personally think Ms. Imes has built one of the most beautiful places in the United States,” DeLyle said. “What a legacy to leave behind. My husband and I feel privileged and honored to step into the property.”

DeLyle moved to the Seattle area in 1980 after a 30-year career as a dancer with Ballet West in Salt Lake City. There she began a second career as a breeder/trainer of the variety of warm-blooded horses used in dressage.

“I’m semi-retired now,” she said. “I do a little practice here and there and take care of my four horses.”

Larsen moved from his native Norway to the Seattle area for college. He is an engineer at Philips Medical, which manufactures high-tech medical equipment.

Neither had been to Mississippi before learning of Windy Hill.

“We had been looking to move out of the Seattle area,” DeLyle said.

The couple were looking for property in the horse country of Lexington, Ky., when Larsen found Windy Hill on the internet.

“We were like, ‘Oh, my word. This is amazing,'” DeLyle said.

DeLyle and Larsen were not alone in this sentiment.

Jeff Hawthorne, who managed the auction for Target Auction, said the company’s marketing program was instrumental in generating interest in the property.

“These expensive properties are different and you have to market them differently,” Hawthorne said. “Before the auction, we offered tours to qualified bidders. We had 37 rounds of bidders from all over the country and bids from people in seven states. I think sellers and buyers have been very happy with the process.

Now making the move across the country, DeLyle and Larsen bring with them an almost reverent attitude towards Windy Hill and want to preserve the vision of its original owner.

“The only changes we have in mind right now are building a barn and figuring out what to do about the horse fencing,” DeLyle said. “Other than that, we don’t expect to make many changes. Why would we? It’s perfect.”

Slim Smith is a columnist and editor for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]

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