YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Starting sometime in the 1940s writers and artists–many of whom became internationally recognized poster children of the Abstract Expressionist movement–began to collect and colonize in Springs, NY, a thickly wooded peninsula northeast of downtown East Hampton. Although you can hardly get further from the ocean in the Hamptons, these artists and writers chose the less than prime area north of the Montauk Highway in part due to its relative affordability compared to the by then already quite pricey communities located in more bikeable proximities to ocean beaches.
Early arty-farty residents and renters in Springs include a long list of art and literary world luminaries like Kurt Vonnegut, Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollack. In 1945 Mister Pollack and his artist wife Lee Krasner paid–are y’all sitting down for this?–$5,000 for a 1.25 acre lot on Springs Fireplace Road. They borrowed the two thousand dollar down payment from art patron Peggy Guggenheim and they later bought an adjacent parcel that brought their holdings in the Hamptons to around 5 acres.
It was here in Springs–in a small shingled barn–that Mister Pollack painted many of his most famous drip paintings; Miz Krasner painted her powerful and sometimes aggressive-looking abstract compositions in the main house until after her husband died and she took over the barn-studio. Mister Pollack perished in an automobile accident on Springs Fireplace Road in 1956 while Miz Krasner lived and worked in Springs until 1984. The iconoclastic couple’s home and studios remain preserved as the Pollack-Krasner House and Study Center.
Mister Pollack and Miz Krasner are buried in Springs’ Green River Cemetery along with other creative types long and closely associated with the Hamptons including architect Charles Gwathmey, artist Hannah Wilke, and poet Frank O’Hara.
The Springs’ deep roots with the New York City art and literary scenes may (or may not) have influenced the decision by conceptual photographer and art world queen bee Cindy Sherman to spend some big bucks to snatch up an historic, 10.2-acre waterfront spread in the still-arty enclave. Property records show Miz Sherman recently used an eponymous corporate entity to pay $4,650,000 for her new hideaway in the Hamptons that’s less than three-quarters of a mile up the road from the former home and studios of Mister Pollack and Miz Krasner.
Property records Your Mama peeped reveal Miz Sherman purchased the undeniably pricey but still understated property from a former Wall Street executive and his wife who had themselves only bought the Springs’ spread in June 2009 for $5,200,000. A few quick flicks of the well-worn beads on our bejeweled abacus shows that amounts to a $550,000 wham-bam-thank-you-maam to the financier’s pocketbook not counting carrying costs, improvement expenses, and real estate fees.
A white picket fence runs along the front of the almost crushingly charming compound that encompasses a perfectly weathered and postcard perfect shingled farmhouse, a perfectly symmetrical barn/garage, and an additional shed/storage barn perfect for parking the rider mower required to cut the acres of well-maintained but not–thankfully–overly-manicured lawns.
A significant portion of the house dates back to around 1835 according to listing information we scared up out of the interweb. There are 4-5 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms in about 3,500 square feet over three floors. The house has been updated and modernized–note the stainless steel appliances in the kitchen and the L-shaped open plan of the living and dining rooms–while retaining many original and quirky architectural treasures such as wonderfully-worn wide-plank wood floors, twelve- and 20-pane sash windows, an exposed brick fireplace in the living room and a pleasing amount of hand-hewn wood beams throughout.
At some point an extension was added to the back of the house that now contains the eat-in countrys-style kitchen and a window-lined den/family room that has a long view across the tree-sprinkled backyard and over the prairie-sized lawn towards the sparkling water. A peninsula counter with butcher block counter top divides the eating area from the small but well-equipped kitchen that’s admittedly short on work space but long on high-grade commercial-style appliances, an ample walk-in pantry and a windowed laundry room.
Front and back stairs lead up to the second level where two bedrooms at the front of the house–one has a fireplace–share a hall bathroom. The master suite at the back of the second floor isn’t large but does have a wood-burning stove flanked by built-in under window storage cabinets, a small sitting area, and a smaller closet. The attached bathroom does have a window for P.P.V. (Proper Pooper Ventilation) but it is so dang tiny Your Mama frets that a claustrophobic would have to endure a panic attack just to do their dirty business or brush their teeth.
A door hides a narrow staircase that climbs up to the third floor, once an attic space with vaulted and beamed ceiling but now a casual but dramatic suite with living area/bunk room lined with closets, a separate bedroom, and a full bathroom. This third floor facility is, it should be noted, the only one in the house with a proper bathtub. That doesn’t disturb Your Mama who would rather run bamboo shoots into our eyes than wallow in a vat of boiling and possibly bubbly water like we’re stew meat but it might really irk those who do find bathtubs relaxing and don’t want to climb a lot of stairs to access one. Anyhoo, with some good sound proofing in the floor this third floor suite would make a lovely and private master retreat, at least for someone who does not mind paying close to five million clammers to climb two flights of stairs just to get to bed.
The wee kitchen opens into a wee-er porch that connects to a decent-sized dining deck that wraps around the back of the house and has unexpected and delightful curved corners. The deck drops off to vast and broad lawns that surround the house and extend all the way down to the reedy marsh.
A gravel drive connects the street to the symmetrical barn/garage with cupola and weather vane. Perfectly aligned and over-sized barn doors painted a deep green slide open to frame the long view over the grassy field that stretches out towards the marshlands and water. The unfinished but spectacular interior has a poured concrete floor, soaring ceilings and a stand up loft space. It’s almost too nice for parking a car, even a fancy one like Miz Sherman surely drives. An smaller adjacent barn/shed structure offers additional storage space lawn and garden care, beach chairs, patio furniture and market umbrellas.
A swimming pool fenced with pickets and surrounded by a blue stone terrace is set so far from the house–where the nearest bathrooms are located–Your Mama worries thoughtless children and lazy adults alike will opt to pee (or worse) in the pool or the encircling foliage rather than dart the long distance to the indoor plumbing facilities.
For what it’s worth–and it ain’t worth a god damn dime–this property picture perfectly defines what constitutes Hamptons real estate goodness for Your Mama and The Dr. Cooter. It may be a long slog to the ocean from Springs but we tend to cotton to and gravitate towards the understated charms of an historic compound like this over the flash and glamour of something like showbizzer Jennifer Lopez’s colossal new crib in Water Mill that sits much closer to–but still not on–the beach, includes a 15,000-plus square foot main house, and was last listed at more than four times the price of Miz Sherman’s new hideaway in the Hamptons. It’s a no-brainer for us, really, but it’s also irrelevant since Your Mama is not now nor will we ever likely be in the market for a five million dollar house in the Hamptons.
P.S. Now puppies, let’s use our noggins. The listing photos reflect the day-core of the seller and not of Miz Sherman who we imagine has a slightly more off-beat way of managing her decorative choices.
listing photos: Town & Country Real Estate