I WENT TO LOOK AT THIS 1880s farmhouse on Old Stone Highway to satisfy myself I didn’t want it.
It’s just the kind of place I originally thought I wanted when I was house-hunting in the winter of 2008-9. So, even though I bought a house in May of ’09, I needed to check it out. And doing that served a very important purpose: it reinforced my fondness for my own 1940s cottage with 1980s windows.
The cedar-shingled farmhouse with front porch (in this case, an unfinished front porch) is classic Hamptons vernacular. This one is on a fairly quiet road, Old Stone Highway, between Springs and Amagansett, near good bay beaches and with Judith Leiber, the well-known handbag designer, for a near neighbor.
It’s got two bedrooms, two baths in dire need of renovation, a large country kitchen at the back that is the only appealing room, and a squished, low-ceilinged living room. That’s it. There is a separate studio, once a chicken coop, on the 1.5 acre property, also crying out for TLC, that could be made into a legal rental unit — with the addition of a kitchen and bath.
The house comes with a story, which the real estate agent handed me on a sheet of paper. It was built on two acres in 1884 for Nathaniel Hayes Petty and his bride, Emma Jane Bond. They raised four children in this house, and installed a gas pump in front. “Old Nat” sold gasoline until his death in 1939. The house changed hands in 1942, selling for $2,000.
In 1948 it sold again, to a pair of journalists as a second home, for $4,100 (this was the height of the artist influx, spearheaded by Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, who had bought a similar house just up the road). The only water was a hand pump in the kitchen sink; there was an outhouse and a wood-burning stove for heat. Gradually, improvements were made, and a strip of land was sold off on one side, reducing the property to 1.5 flat acres of no particular distinction.
I found the house claustrophobic, much smaller feeling inside than it appears from outside, with little evident charm. Though I daresay it could be given some, and expanded, given enough money and the right architect.
The listing is here.