Ferdinand Jay Smith lists $3.25M Brighton NY home. Take a peek inside

One of Rochester’s most recognizable voices is selling one of its most stately homes, designed by one of its most renowned architects.

Ferdinand Jay Smith III, whose career began in the 1960s as a disc jockey on Top 40 radio station WBBF-AM before evolving into that of an advertising guru and Emmy Award-winning music composer, and his wife, Elaine, have listed their 3225 East Ave., Brighton, residence with Jennifer Roe of Mitchell Pierson Jr., Inc. Realtors.

Asking $3.25 million, it comes with a neighboring property, 1 Knollwood Drive, and a lot of amenities and history.

The 1912 stone-and-stucco Tudor is one of around 100 Rochester-area homes designed by famed architect Claude Bragdon (1866-1946). He also was responsible for downtown’s Bevier Building at 42 S. Washington St., and First Universalist Church of Rochester at 150 S. Clinton Ave. — both of which date to 1908 and still stand — and the city’s third central railroad terminal on Central Avenue. Known for its vaulted, tiled ceilings and arched windows resembling the wheels of a locomotive, the circa-1914 structure was torn down in 1977. (A new Amtrak station opened on the site in 2017.)

Bragdon built 3225 East Ave., dubbed “Greystones” because of its extensive use of stone inside and out, for businessman John B. Frey. The Smiths have owned the home, which is in the Pittsford Central School District, since 1988.

A replica of the historic courtyard well at the Musée de Cluny, a museum of medieval arts housed in one of the oldest buildings in Paris, is original to the park-like property.

Years ago, a woman knocked on the door, Smith recalled. “She said to me, ‘My great-great grandfather built that well in your front yard, and my family is in that van in the driveway, and we would really appreciate it if we could take a picture with it.”

Smith, co-founder of Jay Advertising and the voice of commercials for such longtime clients as Wegmans and Raymour & Flanigan, obliged. Good decision: She turned out to be Sister Mary Pius, his fourth-grade teacher from St. Louis School in Pittsford.

The home’s other exterior features include a 40-by-20-foot built-in, heated swimming pool and a stone patio with a sunken hot tub, added by the couple in 1992.

“When we built the patio, the contractor called me outside and showed me an underground room,” said Smith, a 2018 Rochester Music Hall of Fame inductee whose voice also can be heard in a YouTube video promoting the listing. “We never found out what it was for.”

In 2006, they upgraded the pool to make it self-cleaning.

The property on which the Smiths’ home sits measures 1.32 acres and is served by a private road, as is 1 Knollwood, which measures 1.2 acres and could be sold by the new owners. The couple took down an old carriage house on the Knollwood property that was damaged beyond repair. Both parcels have sprinkler systems.

They also expanded the two-car garage at 3225 East Ave. to make it a three-car garage.

The interior’s 5,365 square feet includes five bedrooms and five bathrooms, three full and two partial. A small room with a bathroom on the third floor once was a maid’s quarters.

Original wood paneling runs throughout the space. There are two staircases and three stone fireplaces — two gas and one wood-burning. Re-created leaded windows are framed in mahogany.

There also are windows with bubble-like contours in the glass, a Bragdon signature element called bottle glass.

The home’s lower level with a wet bar was redone to resemble a favorite Boston pub of Smith’s.

“The kitchen we took down to the studs,” he said, and the Tuscan-style remodel added custom hammered-copper cabinet doors.

There are two laundry rooms, and other updates include a new roof, driveway and HVAC system.

The annual property taxes are $31,949.

Listings above $3 million in Monroe County are rare. Besides 3225 East Ave., there have only been three since 2001, according to data provided by Lanie Bittner, president of the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors.   

“It’s a great old place,” Smith said of the residence, for which he and his wife paid $440,000 more than three decades ago, not including the Knollwood lot. “It’s a house that embraces you.”

It also offers great views year-round, Elaine said. “Whether it’s snow or flowers or fall leaves, it’s just a beautiful view from every window of the home.” And enough privacy that it is served as the setting for the wedding of the Smiths’ son, Ferdinand Jay Smith IV, 20 years ago.

They will miss those things when they downsize to a smaller place in the same area.

But, “We’re at a time in our lives that we feel we need to turn the home over to the next generation to enjoy the way we have all these years,” she said.

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Reporter Marcia Greenwood covers general assignments. Send story tips to mgreenwo@rocheste.gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @MarciaGreenwood.