Friday’s Wall Street Journal Mansion section includes an eye-popping feature on the auto-heirotic Ernie Boch Jr., whose lavish lifestyle – and largish home – has rubbed some of the good people of Norwood the wrong way.
A car-dealership magnate pours $30 million, and 14 years, into a mansion in an otherwise modest middle-class Boston suburb
It is hard to miss the name of Ernie Boch Jr. anywhere near Boston. The car-dealership magnate’s name peppers local gossip pages and is splashed across billboards; it is carved into giant hedges along highways and plastered on the backs of cars. Mr. Boch played in a rock band, flies celebrities into town on his private jet and is chauffeured in a Subaru Tribeca he had converted into a stretch limousine.
Mr. Boch’s home is just as conspicuous. In the middle of the quiet, middle-class Boston suburb of Norwood—where modest one- and two-story ranch houses sit on small lots—Mr. Boch lives in a 16,000-square-foot brick mansion that consumes almost an entire square block. He created its 6-acre grounds by purchasing (for an average of $500,000 apiece) and tearing down as many adjacent houses he could get his hands on: nine so far. Two more and he gets the entire block.
The inside story:
The restoration took 14 years and $30 million, but that’s lunch money to Boch, whose company (seven dealerships and Subaru distribution throughout New England) generates $2 billion in annual sales.
It also took its toll on his neighbors.
In 2005, neighbors Glenn and Elise Arrigo appealed to the town zoning board about the noise, dust and loss of privacy. The appeal was dropped when Mr. Boch agreed not to touch the pine trees that separated their properties, but he then had the trees torn down on a Friday at 4 p.m. Mr. Boch says he picked that time so the Arrigos couldn’t go to a judge to get an injunction. “These people didn’t like me,” he says. In 2010 the Arrigos sold their house to Mr. Boch for $700,000. They couldn’t be reached for comment.
Other fun facts to know and tell:
The expansion included digging down under the house and putting in a new basement, now the site of a media room with an 84-inch screen, a music room for his children, a wine cellar (controlled by fingerprint entry security) and massive laundry room (“I don’t do laundry but I think people who do it should be comfortable,” he says).
Mr. Boch has a “Master Plan” for his estate that will ensure he is as talked about after death as he is in life. Drawn up by an architect, he says it will be a 10-acre retreat for the public where his house is now. There will be Zen gardens, a hedge maze and reflecting pools. There will also be a 230-square-foot mausoleum where visitors will push a button and the Neil Young song “Light a Candle” will play as they gaze at his glass-fronted coffin. “It will be a place where people will go to relax,” he says.
So, Norwood: Relax.
And come on down!
A couple of decades from now.