The buyer was looking for a town house in Brooklyn. It needed living space for a family of five and entertaining space for crowds in the dozens. It had to be within walking distance of Pierrepont Street — ruling out Park Slope — but outside of Brooklyn Heights, with its higher price tags.
There was not much fitting those requirements on the market at the time, but the search ended in the summer of 2010 in Cobble Hill at 229 Baltic Street, whose original listing, at $4.2 million, was once featured as House of the Day on Brownstoner.com. After a price cut to $3.995 million, the house went for $3.8 million.
It was a sale much like many others in that desirable enclave, except for one thing: the buyer was a school, Saint Ann’s, which had decided to purchase a residence as part of the lure for a new headmaster, Vincent Tompkins, who was then the deputy provost at Brown University.
Many of the elite schools that provide housing bought it years ago, when real estate was not nearly so expensive. So the Saint Ann’s search was a major undertaking, with the board of trustees contributing generously to the purchase, said Peter Darrow, president of the board.
Buying the house not only solved the problem of where Mr. Tompkins, who has three children, would live, but also made the school more competitive with its peers in attracting heads of school, and gave it a place for formal and informal gatherings for faculty members, alumni, parents and students.
“We weren’t just looking for a kind of social space; we were looking for an added dimension that would make his tenure as head of school more successful,” Mr. Darrow said. “The thought that he could have a place that was his place, in terms of where he lived, and he could entertain faculty, give seminars, we just thought that would enhance his leadership.”