Down it Goes: East Hampton’s ‘Pink House’

2009_7_swan cove solomon

Photo: Curbed Hamptons

THE LATEST TRAVESTY in East Hampton real-estate was the demolition last month of the so-called “Pink House,” a Mediterranean-style stucco charmer built in 1903 that was once home to Gerald and Sara Murphy, the Jazz Age swingers who were F. Scott Fitzgerald’s models for Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender is the Night. Mary de Liagre, a former Ziegfield Follies dancer who died in June 2009 at age 94, had owned the house since the 1970s. It was a local landmark, not least for its pink paint job (more vivid in person than in the pictures I’ve been able to find).


Photo: East Hampton Star

Tucked in a corner south of the highway, a neighbor pointed it out to me last year and I’m glad I saw it before it was razed. The property’s new owner, an investment banker named Peter J. Solomon, bought it last July for $19 million — it had been listed originally at $22.5. I suppose for that price he should be able to do what he wants, but what rankles is that he pretends he loved the 107-year-old house and took it down regretfully because it was in bad shape (and with the unanimous permission of the East Hampton Village Zoning Board, which said the existing house did not “comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations and does not meet village requirements for wetland or front-yard setbacks”).

A_PinkHouseSolomon claims he’s going to re-build “the same house — the only difference is we added a first-floor bedroom.” The original house had a footprint of 2,500 feet and a total square footage (with the second floor) of 4,290; the new one will have a footprint of 5,165, with total square footage of 7,450, though it’s hard to believe it will end up being quite that small, and impossible to believe it will look at all the same.

Photo: East Hampton Star

Wrote one passionate commenter to The East Hampton Star:

Boy, does this suck. That house was part of the core scenery of the town. You KNOW they were using the setbacks as a giant whitewash and excuse for just knocking it down to build something with built-in air-conditioning and room for 5 big-screen TVs and a collection of German-engineered cars. I’m so sick of people tearing down nice old houses for no good reason. I am SO SURE that the new house will be “in the same style.” Not. Most likely it will be yet another “neo-traditional” eyesore. Can’t there be a law against plain old sucky taste????

So hard not to pre-judge when you look around and see some of the monstrosities that pass for architecture around here.