Every house has a story.
Some are contemporary tales, woven with modern architecture and clean lines. Others are hundreds of years in the making, carefully kept alive by trusty stewards.
Much of the East End is cross-section of both worlds, ever apparent during the annual East Hampton House & Garden Tour, which will be held over Thanksgiving Weekend. Now in its 29th year, during the tour, the doors will be open to five homes from the turn of the 19th century through today.
“Dust off your walking shoes and take a stroll along the coast,” tour chairman Joseph Aversano said. “Peruse private homes, contemplate a Japanese garden, admire a connoisseur’s art collection and even enjoy a house with 500-year-old beams traced back to Anne Boleyn’s property in England.”
Five unique homes. Five unique stories. Take a quick look inside as a preview.
For the last 32 years, Ruth Ann and Jack McSpadden have taken the same route along Bluff Road to each of their Amagansett homes—the first two on Treasure Island Drive and the third a Procter & Gamble house in the Devon Colony, which was founded in the late 19th century by executives of the manufacturing company.
The couple would pass the same dunes, the same ocean and the same houses. And, every time, they would comment on the same 19th-century home along Bluff Road in the Historic District that they found especially captivating, though it was unclear why.
Its porch was sagging. Its façade was dilapidated.
But they talked about how much fun it would be to restore it to its original beauty. They hoped someone would buy it and do just that.
And, one day, it was them.
“We enclosed the octagonal front porch so that we could bring our [circa-1920s] wicker furniture from our old house, since we had so many happy memories of the sun porch in the Procter house, and were able to use it on both the front and back porches,” Ms. McSpadden wrote last week in an email. “So we have the best of both locations.”
This gambrel-style, two-story cottage renovated by architect Bruce Siska combines the new and the old—cedar shingles and traditional details with contemporary interiors and state-of-the-art mechanical systems while maintaining the proportion and scale of the house to the lot and the neighborhood, Mr. Siska explained last week in an email.
“Oversized windows and doors are located in the living areas to allow the spaces to extend to the outside,” he said, “with ample access to the exterior porches, lawns and entertaining areas.”
Before there were cottages, manses and estates, there were acres upon acres of tilled land rolling down to the ocean. This “barn-of-a-house” overlooking Georgica Pond is reminiscent of those days, when East Hampton was a farming community.
Sitting on a sprawling field, the home contains actual timbers from Anne Boleyn’s 500-year-old grain barn in Kent, England, according to information shared by the East Hampton Historical Society. As a nod to the controversial queen’s martyrdom—she ruled from just 1533 to 1536 before she was decapitated thanks to her husband, King Henry VIII, after he had her investigated for high treason—the library paneling matches that of Hever Castle, her childhood home. She has been called the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had, since she provided occasion for Henry VIII to annul his former marriage to Catherine of Aragon and declare his independence from Rome.
Perhaps the most unusual house on the tour this year is the seaside hexagonal house nestled in the Napeague dunes owned by interior designer David Netto and his wife, Liz.
“We kept the original footprint of the house,” Ms. Netto said. “So the challenge was how to make a house of intersecting hexagons not a complete disaster.”
The trick was the interior design. The aesthetic inspiration was “’50s colonial—but sexy,” Mr. Netto said, which he achieved with subtle details—such as an eyebrow window that always makes his wife smile, she said.
“Putting it in was David’s idea,” Ms. Netto said. “Even in its early ’80s iteration, the house always had a great feeling. But now, I think, it’s looking great, too.”
In the spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright, this Village abode is all about open spaces—both inside and, more importantly, out. The Japanese-inspired compound—which includes an indoor and outdoor pool—features a koi pond, large terraces, lawns and intimate gardens, reflecting owner Monica Graham’s desire to live within the landscape.
“I feel so fortunate to have such a beautiful and welcoming home,” she said last week in an email. “Sometimes I pinch myself that I get to live here.”
The East Hampton Historical Society will host its 2013 East Hampton House & Garden Tour on Thanksgiving weekend. The event will kick off on Friday, November 29, with a cocktail party from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Georgica country house of Jack and LuAnn Grubman in the famous East Hampton estate section. The next day, on Saturday, November 30, five more homes will be on tour from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $65, or $75 the day of the tour. Tickets for the opening night cocktail party are $200 and include admission to the tour. For more information, call 324-6850 or visit easthamptonhistory.org.