Wackadoodle Hamptons Architecture

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NO ONE COULD ACCUSE THESE HOUSES of being cookie-cutter. While cruising the East Hampton listings in the $600-800,000 range, these two, er, unusual houses came up. They’re not entirely out of context. The Hamptons have long been known for outrageous beach-house architecture, some of it brilliant.

But I’m not sure what to make of these two. I like their spirit, but they seem to be trying way too hard. Architect-designed during a ’60s-’70s Hamptons building boom, they’re remnants of an age whose architecture is taking an awfully long time to become fashionable again, if ever it will be.

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The white cube with giant fisheye, above, was designed by Henri Gueron. It was featured in Architectural Record, and in a book called The Great Houses (McGraw Hill), below. New to market, asking 799K, it’s tiny by today’s inflated standards: 2 beds, 2 baths, 950 square feet on half an acre, with a new pool, below, a fancy Italian kitchen, and a roof deck.

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While the white box makes me cringe a little, the winged wood one, below, makes me laugh. Is it a nod in plywood to Saarinen’s TWA terminal or a Palm Springs gas station?

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Known as the “Butterfly House,” it dates from 1964. The architect was Henry T. Howard (Google comes up short). Three bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,200 square feet, felicitously located on a wooded corner lot in Springs, not far from Accabonac Harbor and magnificent bay beaches. The interior, below, looks promising, and it was just reduced to 725K.

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While I would prefer my next house to be a late 19th century shingled farmhouse with a front porch, as soothing and unchallenging as my beloved Impressionists, I would also kind of enjoy furnishing that crazy cube with classic modern furniture, rya rugs, and a nice, big Jackson Pollock.

The more I look at these two oddities, the better I like them. They’re interesting, and that’s more than can be said for most houses. They’re economically small. They’re secluded. But they’re strange. It will take a very special buyer, now and forever after, which makes these houses a pretty hard sell and a chancy investment. Maybe they’ll be highly prized in 30 years, if they don’t get torn down by then.

About cara

I blog for fun at https://casacara.wordpress.com, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
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11 Responses to Wackadoodle Hamptons Architecture

  1. Terry Kearns says:

    I like the both but prefer wings myself. Butterfly’s great room is great. Chilly near those windows I’d guess. I’m getting way too chilly in Atlanta right now.

  2. Astor C. says:

    Great houses. Just over-priced. Both would be fantastic canvases for furnishings, either stark moderne or go against the grain and do French Rococo a la “2001”.

  3. I DO like the inside of the “butterfly” house but the outside (and it may the photography) looks like a huge wedge from space landed on the house! I have to give them credit for trying though. You always turn up some interesting houses Cara, great post, thanks!

  4. design snob says:

    Bite your tongue, Cara! It would be tragic to see the house with wings demolished and, well, a bit sad to see the cube go, too.

  5. cara says:

    God knows, snob, I don’t *want* it to happen, but it very well could, and that would be a pity.

  6. Harriet Bell says:

    Well, what if the house with wings was painted white? Think about it.
    It’s no worse than many other Hamptons houses.

  7. cara says:

    White would make it stand out more (when there’s no snow, anyway). Don’t think that’s a good thing. I don’t think it’s any worse than many other Hamptons houses – in fact, better! But I still don’t think it qualifies as ‘good architecture,’ whatever that is.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I really LOVE the butterfly house… as a designer, this is one of the most unique properties I’ve seen in the Hamptons among all the cookie-cutter fabricated homes. Agree that the interior esp. the exterior and landscaping need work. The listing price on this home is OVER priced.

  9. cara says:

    Not sure if the butterfly house is still on the market or not; this is a rather old post. But I agree the house was overpriced for its size and the size of its lot. Very special though.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Butterfly post is still on the market. I love it.

  11. cara says:

    I see they’ve reduced it only 26K, from 725K to 699K, in THREE YEARS!! Maybe that’s why. Another 100K might do it. Why don’t you make an offer, Anonymous?

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