Cottage-Hunting in Pine Neck


EVER ON THE TRAIL OF MY NEXT PROJECT, I went out the other day with my sister and  Steven Frankel of Saunders Real Estate to tour properties around the 500K mark in Pine Neck, near Sag Harbor, Long Island. If you’d like to do the same, or for more info on any of the houses in this post, contact Steve directly: 917/903-2005, He’s fun.

We had visions of a 1940s cottage with a front porch that could be ‘charmed up’ and transformed into a pleasant weekend home or used as a rental property.

Steve took us on a circuit of five houses that, by design or geography, went from bad to much better. The first was depressingly motel-like; I’ll spare you a photo of that one.

By the time we concluded our tour, house #5, below — a c. 1950 4BR, 2 bath with detached garage (artist studio!) and full basement — seemed like a substantial lot of house, a short stroll from a beautiful bay beach, top. 21 Elm Street has just been reduced to 499K, and it’s my considered pick of the bunch for value. 


Unlike most such houses, which have a warren of small rooms, this one has a living room with long sight lines, below, and skylights. The dropped ceiling could be removed to reveal a peaked ceiling, though buckets of whitewash over the dark paneling and maybe white floors would go a long way toward making the place feel more expansive.


In between, we saw 32 Birch, another 4-bedroom, below, built in 1950, that seemed overpriced at 575K. Virtually all these houses have attached sun rooms that are often the most appealing part. Here’s a link to the listing.


I thought the kitchen, below, was bigger and better than most.


Going back in time and down in price a bit, we next saw 12 Dogwood, a 1945 3-bedroom. For more photos, click here.



This last, 26 Dogwood, was built in 1938 as a summer cottage and is unheated to this day. It appealed to me for its simplicity and lower price: they’re asking 415K.



Any of these ugly ducklings can be clad with cedar shingles, dated ‘picture windows’ replaced, French doors substituted for aluminum doors, and on and on. Ya gotta have vision. And money, of course.

Deskey-Designed Montauk Surf Shack $1.1M


WHAT’S A DESIGN PEDIGREE WORTH? Quite a bit, in the case of this 500-square-foot bungalow just sent to market by fashion designer Cynthia Rowley (who bought another mid-century Montauk house recently for 820K and probably doesn’t need two of them).


The pedigree is not Rowley’s, A-list celeb though she is. It’s that the house was designed in the late 1930s by architect Donald Deskey, best known for his elegant Art Deco contributions to Radio City Music Hall, for the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. He called it the “Sportshack,” declaring his intention to “overcome the public’s aversion to factory-built homes by using open spaces, new materials, and practical decor.”


Kitchen cabinets look original

In 1940, a Sportshack was exhibited as part of an industrial design show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, kitted out as a hunting cabin with rifles and duck decoys. This particular one was erected in the Ditch Plains area of Montauk in the ’40s. As it stands, the house has just one bedroom and one bath, but it sits on a lot of nearly an acre and could be expanded.


For the official listing and many more pictures, click here.

’40s Cottages in Pine Neck


TODAY MY SISTER AND I wandered the streets of Pine Neck, a bayfront community about three miles west of Sag Harbor, on the north shore of Long Island’s South Fork.


It should by rights be called Oak Neck for the towering trees that define the neighborhood; it’s not all that piney, but someone must have thought Pine Neck sounded better.


The area’s cottages, each unique, seem to be mostly of 1940s vintage.


With few signs of encroaching development, it looks more or less as it did in the days before rock’n’roll.


We looked last night at some real-estate listings, which confirmed that one thing has changed since the Andrews Sisters ruled the air waves: the prices. The active listings seem to start at about 400K for the smaller, non-waterfront cottages and ascend from there.



The unusually large (for the area) waterfront property in the two pictures above sold last year for $1.1million.

Most of the houses are on small lots (about one-tenth of an acre), neither derelict nor overly spiffed up. The house below is an exception.


I’m guessing many of them are still owned by the families that first bought or built them.


There are few visible ‘For Sale’ signs. The houses below are not necessarily on the market; they’re the ones that caught my eye as we rambled, for one reason or another.







The sandy beach on Noyac Bay, below, is the reason a community of summer cottages sprung up in this particular spot. None of the houses are more than a few minutes’ walk away.


Here are a few of the coveted bayfront cottages:




And some of the local denizens:


This is my sister’s adorable pea-green rental, below, recently renovated and kitted out with mid-20th century furniture.


A Very Vintage Christmas


THAT CUTE HOUSE, above, is an 1810 Greek Revival jewel built by a sea captain in Greenport, Long Island. It now belongs to Adrienne Grande, who bought it recently and has been fixing it up for the past year. It looks mighty spiffy with the wreath on its freshly painted picket fence.


At Christmastime, Adrienne brings out her mom’s collection of vintage tree ornaments from the 1940s and ’50s. The peach, above, brought back a sudden memory of being invited to help decorate our next-door neighbors’ tree in Queens. I could swear they had that same peach, as well as a plum, a banana, and other fruit. I was about 5 at the time, but the delight I took in those ornaments persists to this day.



So bring on the family heirlooms, the nostalgic music (I just heard Aaron Neville’s exquisite Holy Night on WBGO), and have yourselves a joyful and very vintage Christmas.


Bottom-Fishing on the East End


I’VE BEEN GETTING FED UP with house prices here in the Humptons. Yesterday my friend Debre and I stumbled upon an old farmhouse with a ‘For Sale’ sign on Old Stone Highway in Springs, below, found the door open (!) and the realtor’s flyers conveniently stacked on the kitchen counter. I was hoping it was under $1mil. In fact, they’re asking $2.5mil.

Turns out that’s for two houses — a barn-like 7BR place built at the back of the property in 2001, plus the renovated 4BR 19th century house, above, nearer the road (suggested in the literature as a guest house), both on 1.5 acres. Still, that’s a big number, and this blog is supposed to be about affordable real estate.

So I decided to troll the listings to see what’s new on the low end of the scale here on the East End of Long Island, and turned up these three older properties — one in the Sag Harbor area on the South Fork and two in Greenport on the North Fork — for much more agreeable prices. (Click on the live links below for more details.)

I love the look of this 2BR Craftsman-style bungalow in Greenport, below, asking 365K. Said to be in excellent condition, with a couple of outbuildings, and well-located near the harbor.


These have always intrigued me: Breezy Shores is a bayfront community in Greenport made up of classic 1940s beach cottages, below, with a shared beach and marina. No heat, unfortunately, so their use is limited, and prices have gone up since I last looked. There are two available, asking 349K for each.

See how great it could look here.


This nondescript cottage, below, is really cheap for the South Fork: asking 299K. Not having seen it, I make no representations. It’s on Noyack Avenue in Pine Neck, near the water, with mooring rights and gas heat. Maybe it could be charmed up? I’m sure a team of editors from Domino magazine could have done it.


With summer ending, houses languishing on the market, and interest rates still low, this could be a very good time to look.