Vintage Cottage in Springs 450K


THIS IS A PROPERTY I KNOW very well. It’s near where I live, for one thing, and I pass it almost daily. For another, I looked at it myself a year-and-a-half ago before buying a roughly similar place just down the road (this house has been mostly off the market since then).


I actually like the house a lot, and I like its potential even more. Can’t guess its age — 1920s perhaps? — but it had a big old barn, which has since been removed. The architecture is plain and unpretentious, with the cedar shingles characteristic of old East End houses. The kitchen is huge and has a country feeling. It’s got 2BR, as does mine, two baths (I have one), and a garage (I have none). It’s 1,000 square feet to my 800, and on a similar size lot, a ‘shy’ half-acre.


So why did I buy mine and not this one? First and key, mine cost 130K less than they’re asking for this house — but my house and property were in far worse condition. My lot is heavily wooded and has a more secluded feel. This one is more exposed, but nothing landscaping couldn’t fix. It cries out for a fence and hedge to shield it from the (fairly busy but not as bad as I feared at first) road.


The other thing that made me prefer my house is the fact that my main living space has a high peaked ceiling and skylights. The living and dining room here, below, feel a bit claustrophobic because the ceilings are low. Rip ’em out, I say (there’s nothing but empty attic space above), and you’ve got a soaring, expansive interior.


Furthermore, it’s in Springs, which I can now confirm as a full-time resident, is GREAT. We’ve got the best bay beaches and a cute historic district with a general store, library, art galleries, and the Jackson Pollock-Lee Krasner Study Center. This house is a short walk from the historic district, as well as from two other vital amenities: a wine store and pizza place — and, of course, it’s five miles from East Hampton and Amagansett, if you’re looking for chic restaurants and/or ocean beaches.

The asking price is more than fair for all that. Now take it away. For more info, go here. Or contact Karen Benvenuto, Saunders Real Estate, 631/458-4933,

1880s Farmhouse in Springs 695K


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.

At Home with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner


I’M LIVING A SCANT MILE from a National Historic Landmark and cult-of-personality epicenter, the Pollock-Krasner House. It’s an 1879 farmhouse here in Springs where two leading lights of Abstract Expressionist painting, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, lived from 1945 until his death in 1956 (she continued to use the house until the 1980s).

He produced his best-known works in the cedar-shingled studio by laying a canvas on the floor and moving around it, athletically flinging, pouring, and dripping paint with brushes, sticks, and turkey basters (“I paint to express my feelings,” he famously said — “not to illustrate them”). The studio floor is the artistic highlight of the tour, spattered with remnants of Pollock’s work (the real things are in museums worldwide). Krasner took over the studio after Pollock died and painted prolifically there for many decades.

This house is where they lived when Pollock was in his creative heyday, featured in LIFE magazine as the greatest American artist of the 20th century. It’s where they entertained large groups of artist friends, and apparently drank way too much. I was curious to see the inside of the place. Would it be avant garde, wildly colored?


Not at all, I found out on an hour-long guided tour last Saturday ($10, reservations required). The docent filled us in on the artists’ backgrounds and brilliant artistic careers, not shying away from  the group’s questions about the tragic side of the story: their co-dependent relationship, his decline into alcoholism and depression, his extra-marital affair, and death in a car crash a mile from the house (both are buried nearby in Green River Cemetery, under enormous boulders).


The house, which had no heat or plumbing and was in ramshackle condition when they bought it for $5,000 right after WWII, retains some of the furnishings from those early days. It is rustic and unpretentious, with a rusty anchor on the wall, picked up while beachcombing, and a carved Spanish breakfront used as a kitchen counter.


Definitely the home of artists, it is decorating-on-a-shoestring, with pleasing results. I can relate.

Krasner’s “Left Bird Right,” above; a 1953 painting by Pollock, below


Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center, 830 Springs Fireplace Road, East Hampton, NY 11937  631/ 324-4929,

Welcome to Springs

IMG_0464I’M STARTING TO EXPLORE my new neighborhood, bit by bit.

The main attraction here is the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center on Springs Fireplace Road, below, an 1879 farmhouse that was home to Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, two of the leading lights of Abstract Expressionist painting. When I have time, I’ll take the tour; I look forward to seeing Krasner’s collection of eclectic furniture and the floor of the barn studio, encrusted with Pollock’s famous paint spatters.


In the meantime, I had a lovely chat with the assistant director, a longtime local named Ruby Jackson, who was friendly with the woman who sold me this cottage (whom I never got to meet). Ruby said she was an avid gardener who created a ‘work of art’ in what is now my backyard. After next week, when landscapers come to clear the overgrown, neglected masses of weeds and brush, I hope to see more of it and take my own gardening cues from there.

With my daughter Zoe, who’s here helping me with myriad handywoman projects, I checked out the Green River Cemetery, where Pollock, Krasner, and other notable artists are buried underneath some unconventional headstones.


No, Pollock wasn’t Jewish, but it looks like many of his visitors are, or at least they’re following the Jewish tradition of leaving stones on a grave marker.


Below, the grave of Stan Vanderbeek, the experimental filmmaker.


The official Springs Historic District seems to consist of about four buildings, including Ashwagh Hall, used for art exhibitions; the public library; a onetime blacksmith shop; and a cute general store (a deli, really, with above-average offerings) adjacent to old-time gas pumps and a shed, which turn into an antique store on weekends.


Above, the library and Springs Historical Society, which I have yet to find open (hours are short).



But the real glory of the area are two incredible beaches, one at Maidstone Park, a long crescent of white sand rimming Gardiner’s Bay, and the other at Louse Point, below, at the end of a spit of land jutting into Accobonac Harbor. Both were near-deserted yesterday, except for the birds.