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ONE OF THE PERKS of writing for shelter magazines is getting inside a lot of interesting houses. For the holiday issue of Hamptons Cottages & Gardens magazine, I got a look at the interior of one of East Hampton’s venerable Main Street houses, built around the time of the Revolution.
Its longtime owners removed a later Victorian front porch (for which they were find $5,000 by the Town and considered it a fair deal), restored its wavy glass windows and wood-paneled walls, and furnished it largely with period-appropriate antiques.
You can find the whole article right here.
Photos: Tria Giovan
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT SHOCKED ME when I moved to the country was how much driving one has to do to get anywhere. The other day a friend and I combined yard-saling with a fitness walk, and in the process I noticed several fine old houses on Springs Fireplace Road — four in a row — that I sort of knew were there, but that had more or less escaped my notice as I whizzed by at 50mph.
One’s a mid-19th century farmhouse, above and top. I love the fresh coat of white paint over everything – the clapboards on the lower level and the shingles above, the arched window in the attic, and the restrained gingerbread on the porch.
Then there’s a very plain and unprepossessing cedar-shingled house, above, with an offset front door that looks exceedingly informal — perhaps it’s not the original front door. The duck decoys, below, made me smile, as did the purpose-built box to hide the electric meter (I need one of those).
Right next door is another cedar-shingled farmhouse of the late 19th century, below. with blue trim on the fence tying in to the front entry and window lintels. This house deserves better in the way of an entry portico, I think.
A little ways down from that one is a house, below, with painted shingles, dormer windows, a picket fence, and a plaque reading 1839.
There’s a marvelous barn, below, behind it.
Walking. It’s an eye-opener.
“SECOND HOUSE” IN MONTAUK, out at the tip of Long Island, is so called because it was — you guessed it — the second house built there, when Montauk’s 15,000 acres comprised America’s first cattle ranch. First House, built in 1744, burned down long ago. Second House, now a museum maintained by the Montauk Historical Society, went up in 1797 — the oldest parts of it, anyway.
It served as an inn for travelers, fishermen, and hunters, later as a summer home for a family named Kennedy. I’d driven past it many times but never found it open.
Today I went inside for the first time (it’s open every day but Wednesday in summer) and can report that Second House is filled with furnishings in styles ranging from Colonial to Victorian, along with displays of old tools and framed photographs of local scenes.
There’s also an array of Montauk-abilia, including an arresting portrait of Stephen Talkhouse, below, the legendary 19th century Montauk Indian and Civil War vet said to be able to walk from Montauk to Brooklyn (a distance of 100 miles) in a day.
There’s a fine cottage garden surrounded by a picket fence, and an interesting rockery/herb garden alongside one of the outbuildings.
For the $4 price of admission, it’s definitely something to keep in mind for a rainy day at the beach.
ANOTHER RED DOOR! That was my first thought when I saw a recent post on Rural Intelligence, the home/food/culture blog of the Hudson Valley, about staging the 1760 Colonial, above, for sale.
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
The post features the provocative James Mane, a Greene County real estate agent/hands-on stager, who prefers the term “editing” and who’ll take a project only with the understanding that he can do as he pleases. He really strips a place down to showcase “the house, not the furnishings” — which makes perfect sense when you have historic houses of enormous charm and character to sell (and clients with boring stuff).
Tivoli, Dutchess County, NY
Why the cliché red door on Mane’s latest project? “To warm it up,” of course (the paint is Benjamin Moore’s “Warm Comfort,” something close to persimmon).
Red doors seem to be everywhere lately, used as a quick and easy pick-me-up for a house, especially one on the market. A red door says ‘Welcome, please come in and love me — better yet, buy me.’
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Actually, I love red doors, though I’ve usually painted my own some version of turquoise, because an Israeli friend once told me it keeps evil spirits away.
Kinderhook, Columbia County, NY
Any thoughts on the meaning of the red door?
I’M STILL VERY MUCH IN THE DISCOVERY PHASE concerning the East End of Long Island, where I moved just under a year ago.
One of my favorite areas is Bridgehampton/Sagaponack. Between Montauk Highway and the ocean, there are quite a few Colonial houses on quiet lanes. It still has a rural, old-timey feel, with a windmill, farm stands, a classic general store on Sagg Main Street, greenhouses (that’s Liberty Farm Nursery, below), and tractors moving about.
Of course, all that rural charm, as well as unspoiled ocean beaches minutes away, attracted the newly rich in the 1980s and ’90s; there was a lot of building, which continues more slowly today. Thus there are some massive contemporary houses, a number of which qualify as ‘important’ modern architecture. Others are McMansions in ersatz Shingle Style. Happily, they are mostly set back in the fields, hidden at least partly by dune grasses.
The 17th century bridge that gave Bridgehampton its name is now a functional modern overpass, below, but the view is still exhilarating.
I was in the area the other day looking for a group of six houses known as Sam’s Creek, designed in the 1970s and ’80s by architect Norman Jaffe (I’m writing about Jaffe for Home Miami magazine). I found them; you’ll see pictures in an upcoming post. Though I was impressed by their design, siting, and modernist landscaping, my heart was definitely more moved by the houses and scenes in this post.