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IT’S BEEN A TRADITION on Long Island’s East End for almost three decades: the East Hampton House & Garden Tour, held Thanksgiving weekend to benefit the East Hampton Historical Society — a worthy cause if ever there was one. It’s scheduled for Saturday, November 24, from 1-4:30PM, with a benefit cocktail party on the evening of Friday, November 23.

My favorite of the five houses on this year’s self-guided tour is (no surprise) the oldest: the late 18th century Stafford-Hedges House above and below, said to have a tumultuous history of scandal and rumor over the course of its 230 years. It’s a “half house,” with the front door to the extreme right of the original structure, intended later to be expanded with its mirror image. In this case, that never happened. Instead, there’s a modern addition at the back.

The other houses represent a mix of periods and styles, from an 1894 Amagansett farmhouse to a cottage described as “East Hampton meets Nantucket via Harbour Island (Bahamas),” designed by a prominent interior designer and owned by a local landscape architect, below.

There’s also a 21st century modern home in Wainscott, heavy on the glass and incorporating indoor hanging gardens, designed by East End architect Maziar Behrooz, and a newly built “Tuscan casetta” in the Northwest Woods section.

The Opening Night Cocktail Party on Friday Nov. 23 from 6-8, a fund-raiser for the Historical Society, will be held at the 1891 William E. Wheelock House on 10 manicured acres, one of East Hampton Village’s first grand shingle-style cottages.

Tickets to the Opening Night Cocktail Party start at $200, which includes entry to the tour the following day.  Tickets to the House & Garden Tour are $65 in advance and $75 on the day of the tour.  Ticket proceeds benefit the East Hampton Historical Society and are on sale via:

  • EHHS office, 101 Main Street, Tuesday – Saturday, 10-4
  • By phone at 631-324-6850
  • Website: www.easthamptonhistory.org.
  • Clinton Academy, 151 Main Street, Friday, November 23 and Saturday, November 24, 10-4

RCAR04nmsBIG HOO-HAH here in the East End over the historic Hildreth house in Southampton, an 1885 Stick-style Victorian on which James Fairchild, the publishing heir, and his wife Whitney, have recently gone to contract (the listing price was $11 million).

The main sticking point is that the prospective new owners want to to stain the distinctively colored house gray, and paint the trim white (yawn).

The first Southampton Architectural Review Board hearing on the matter was inconclusive; another is scheduled for next week. “To denude this painted lady of her clothes,” said Richard Barons, director of the East Hampton Historical Society, “is obscene.”

I’m not sure where I stand. The rich red, green, and taupe scheme is not original to the house, but it’s appropriate to its Aesthetic Movement origins. But if you’re paying millions for a house, and there are no landmarks regulations to the contrary (which there are not, as apply specifically to paint color), maybe you should be allowed to paint it any color you want? It’s only paint, after all.

Get the full story here.

What do you think?

I PITY THE POOR COLONISTS (or anyone who lived in the pre-modern era, really). Their homes were so devoid of comfort. No rugs on the hard wood floors, nothing to sit on but stiff-backed chairs, thin mattresses stuffed with straw. Even when they did get those fireplaces cranked up in winter, I’ll bet it wasn’t up to 70 degrees.

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Still, their interiors were beautiful in a Puritan sort of way, to judge by the rooms at Mulford House in East Hampton, one of the finest English-style buildings of its era on this continent.

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Built in 1680, the house is furnished today as it might have been in 1790, when Daniel and Rachel Mulford lived there with their children and household help.

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As recently as 1949, descendants of the family lived in the house, foregoing such luxuries as plumbing and electricity so the house could remain in a state of near-perfect preservation.

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One section of wall is stripped to reveal layers of paint colors through the centuries, and a bit of an upper wall has been left open to show dried seaweed packed between the beams for insulation.

The Mulford House doesn’t feel like a museum. It feels like a sparsely decorated Early American house , very evocative and very real.

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