HALIFAX — An American family's striking 57-acre private Nova Scotia island remains unsold, eight years after it went on the market and despite a $2.5-million price drop.
Now, realtor Mariana Cowan is suggesting alternate uses for Kaulbach Island, which boasts an 11,000-square-foot main house and encircling sandy beaches that overlook the province's picturesque Mahone Bay.
"This place is really quite remarkable," said Cowan. "It would make a great resort, a corporate retreat base or a lovely secondary home."
The main house — built by the current owners roughly 12 years ago and dubbed the "Osprey Nest" — features 11 bedrooms, nine bathrooms and 10 fireplaces, and is a short five-minute boat ride from the mainland.
"When you arrive you come up this winding driveway and you're greeted by this magnificent house. It's hard to believe this home is in the South Shore," said Cowan.
The imposing two-storey structure with grey wood siding and white trim stands in stark contrast to the groomed lawns, lush trees and ponds that comprise the property — navigable by golf carts.
Inside, the 12-year-old house evokes a traditional and elegant style. The master bedroom and living room are clad in knotty pine wood panelling. The library features oak walls and oriental rugs, and an adjacent "telephone room" allows guests to make private phone calls.
"The whole design was meant to make it feel like an older home, to give it that historic feel. The woodworking, the moulding — everything is made to look like it's 100 years old," said Cowan.
The seasonal house is equipped with environmentally friendly features, including aquathermal heat.
Young, Bella, and the several other islands in the bay can be spotted from the house's sun room, furnished with french doors, massive windows, slate floors, and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace.
The property includes staff living quarters above a double-car garage, a nearby two-level farm house, and a seaside beach house that was built in 2002 — all minutes away from a golf course and sailing club.
Cowan listed the property last fall for $7 million, down from $9.5 million when it was first listed in 2010. It has been on and off the market since then.
But Kaulbach Island wasn't always a luxurious destination.
The aunt and uncle of the island's current caretaker owned the property more than 75 years ago and lived off the land, enduring harsh coastal winters that would sometimes trap Ruby and Florence Heisler there for months at a time.
"They had no children. It was just the two of them. They had a couple of cows, oxen, pigs and chicken and the land was used for hay," said Cowan. "There was no power in those days. They used kerosene and the two lighthouses on the island were also run by kerosene."
Caretaker Raymond Hilt believes the island was in his family even before his aunt and uncle took ownership. The Heislers sold it for $11,000 in the early 1970s and moved to the mainland.
Since then, Kaulbach Island has changed hands several times, including to two other Americans.
Cowan said she's been looking south of the border and to Europe for the island's next owners.
"The buyer for this property will likely be someone who likes privacy and who appreciates quality," said Cowan.
She said her company is currently speaking with two parties interested in buying the property.