Two Express Interest In Relocating Sagaponack’s Farney House


Two individuals have expressed interest in relocating a 1950s modernist style house designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson from its Sagaponack property rather than see it demolished to make way for a new, larger home.

Members of the Sagaponack Village Architectural and Historic Review Board on Friday told representatives of the property owners about the interest expressed to them in removing the structure. The board said it would give anyone who wished to move the house to a new location 60 days to do so before allowing the property owner to demolish the structure.

Board Chairman Thomas White said this week that he would not identify either of the individuals who have approached the village about taking ownership of the structure, known as the Farney House. One, he said, was referred by another local architect.

Mr. White said that one of the interested parties had mentioned plans to move the house as far as Westhampton, and that the new site would be a property near but not fronting the ocean beach, the setting in which Mr. Johnson designed the house for its original owners, Eugene and Margaret Farney, in 1946. The house is seen as precursor to Mr. Johnson’s famed “Glass House” in Connecticut.

Both parties interested in relocating the Farney House would take only the original structure, trimming it of additions made in the 1980s that nearly tripled it in size.

The original was a fairly minimalist, uninsulated, rectangular abode—resembling, somewhat, a 1970s Vivitar instant camera—mounted on wooden pilings that lofted it just to the top of the rolling sand dunes between it and the ocean at the time. Those dunes are largely gone now, and the house has been updated with insulation, a modern kitchen, utilities and a finished basement, though its original cedar wall paneling and polka-dot painted bedrooms remain in like-new condition.

There has been some question of whether the 1940s structure would be able to withstand the rigors of having its new appendages cleaved off, as well as whether relocating the house to a setting other than which it was designed for would really be preserving the architect’s work. But those interested will have their chance to pull it off.

Roger Seifter, an architect at Robert A.M. Stern Architects, who is designing the new house for the owners of the Farney House property, said that the 60-day moratorium on the demolition was acceptable in keeping with their needs to begin work on the new structure by early fall.

The 3.6-acre oceanfront property is owned by Zachary and Lori Schreiber. They have plans to build a traditional-style shingled house of more than 10,000 square feet on the property.

“Physically, it can be done,” Mr. Seifter said of the potential for moving the house within the 60-day window. “Someone would need to act rather quickly. It can’t wait until the last week.”

Mr. Seifter’s firm had argued to the village in its demolition proposal that while most of the original structure remains in place, the additions and other alterations to the structure and property had largely stripped the remnants of Mr. Johnson’s original designs of their architectural significance.

The costs of removing the structure and any infrastructure work that would have to be done to make way would be the responsibility of whoever took ownership of the structure.

Mr. Seifter’s company has pledged to donate to the village the intricately detailed balsa wood replica of the house that it made for a presentation on tearing down the structure, as well as the volumes of architectural drawings and historical information about the house that the firm compiled during the review by village officials. Members of the board suggested that the model and drawings could be given to the Bridgehampton-based Hampton Library’s local history collection.

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