Billionaire demolishes former Rockefeller home on MDI’s beachfront estate

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Four years after buying the former Seal Harbor estate from fellow billionaire David Rockefeller Sr., Ringing Point’s new owner is making changes to the beachfront property.

Mitchell Rales, the billionaire co-founder of Danaher Corp., has the Rockefellers’ former summer house demolished.

Rales bought 14.8 acres of the former Rockefeller property for $19 million in January 2018, a year after Rockefeller died at age 101. Later that year, David Rockefeller Jr. purchased the remaining two acres of the property which border Cooksey Drive from his father. estate, including a house that was built in 2012.

In March, Ringing Point LLC, the legal entity established by Rales to be the technical owner of the property, obtained a demolition permit from the City of Mount Desert to remove the main house that David Sr. and his wife Peggy Rockefeller had built in 1973, according to city code enforcement officer Kim Keene.

Work has since begun to demolish the structure, which is not visible from Cooksey Drive, and to remove the debris.

A description of the property maintained online by a local real estate company says Peggy Rockefeller designed the “comfortable and gracious” 7-bedroom home in the early 1970s and helped plan the design of the surrounding landscaping, which includes a granite swimming pool and a circular rose garden.

“The tiered living room has two fireplaces and west-facing bay windows; these frame unforgettable views across the lawn to Grand Harbor and beyond,” the description reads. “The dining room has views to the west and south; next to the kitchen is a cozy sitting area with a cozy raised fireplace. So many tasteful, understated touches are evident throughout, from the Portuguese tile murals to the painted patterned floors to the interior barn walls.

The city has not received a building permit application to construct new buildings on the property, but Rales is expected to construct a new summer residence there.

Signs erected at entry points to the estate indicate that Nate Holyoke Builders of Bucksport has been hired as the project’s general contractor. Holyoke Builders is known for building large, traditional-style Maine “rustic” waterfront cottages for wealthy summer families on Mount Desert Island and elsewhere in Hancock County.

This wouldn’t be the first summer home Rales has built on MDI. In 2007, he bought Blueberry Ledge, the former Northeast Harbor home of Washington socialite Susan Mary Alsop, for $5.5 million and then tore it down. He replaced it with a larger, contemporary designed $24 million mansion he dubbed Ruthy’s Way, which he still owns.

Forbes estimates Rales’ net worth at $5.8 billion, tying him with several other people as the 438th richest person in the world.

Prior to Rockefeller ownership, the Seal Harbor property was known as Glengariff when George Borwick Cooksey (whose road is named after) owned it in the late 19th century, according to a 2020 report by Mansion Global. Boston banker Ernest B. Dane bought it in 1909, demolished Cooksey’s cottage, and built a much larger stone and timber house.

“Despite maintaining the Glengariff name, locals still called the new home the Dane Cottage,” the website reported. “Then Rockefeller bought the property and demolished the cottage, making way for Ringing Point.”

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