It’s such a glorious treat to get to not just peak, but actually step inside some of the most stunning old and new homes in East Hampton, thanks to the East Hampton Historical Society‘s annual House & Garden Tour. But this year, there’s a big of a celebrity in the mix: the one and only Grey Gardens. Famed for its former reclusive, eccentric owners, Big and Little Edie, relations of the one and only Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onasis, the pretty-but-ramshackle cedar-shingled home was bought by Liz Lange and her husband in 2017 and completely restored to well-deserving glory.
But there’s so much more to see, too! From a mid-century modern beachy marvel with water vistas all around to a duo of original Devon Colony stunners from the turn of the last century.
“Our lineup this year features incredible interior design in houses with tremendous histories,” says Steve Long, Executive Director of the East Hampton Historical Society. “In addition to enabling the East Hampton Historical Society to present historic properties that very few people typically get an opportunity to see, the House & Garden Tour helps us raise critical funding necessary to preserve our six historic sites and provide historical perspective for the entire community.”
Join in the house-gawking fun on Saturday, November 25 from 1 to 4 p.m., where the owners of these five East Hampton homes spanning a couple dozen decades of history will open their doors for a rare peek inside some of the Village’s magnificent architectural masterpieces. Southforker got a preview of what’s in store…
The subject of a lifetime’s worth of gossip, Grey Gardens may well be the most famous be-shingled celebrity on the East End, thanks to both a 2006 Broadway musical and a 2009 HBO movie surrounding the lives of reclusive mother-daughter odd birds, Big and Little Edie Beales. But no amount of fame could make the dilapidated 1901 cottage a particularly attractive purchase. Fashion designer and entrepreneur Liz Lange was up for the challenge, though, and using the architectural power of Ferguson & Shamamian, along with Bories & Shearon, breathed life (and better smells) into the beautiful old place.
Artist Retreat with Starry Pedigree
Grey Gardens isn’t the only Hollywood hot shot on the docket for this year. Screen siren, socialite and East Hampton resident Dina Merrill used to sigh at the gorgeous views of the Atlantic over Wiborg Beach (the eponymous stretch named for the home’s original owner, Sara Wiberg). Merrill’s husband, Ted Hartley, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, actor, film producer, artist and investment banker, still owns the circa 1960 modernist cottage today, which was expanded and redesigned in 2011, to take full advantage of the amazing views. Come check ’em out for yourself.
Stately Main Street Manor
Originally built as the East Hampton postmaster’s house in 1799, this three-story sprawling East End classic was the very first of what is now the iconic shingle-style home here. But maybe more fun is it was also the home of one May Groot Manson, a woman of wealth who used her means to fund the suffragist movement, and acting as a leader in the Women’s Suffrage League of East Hampton, as well as the Women’s Political Union of Suffolk County. And then in her spare time, she founded the now-distinguished East Hampton Garden Club, hosting their very first plant sale on the grounds here. Rock on, May!
Procter House and Windy Dune, Devon Colony
While the Romans can take credit for creating the first gated communities the world would see, Devon Colony’s origins weren’t too far from this. Dreamt up as an exclusive enclave by four Cincinnati tycoons, Richmond Levering, William Cooper Procter, Joseph Rawson, Jr. and William Stanhope Rowe, Devon Colony was formed at the turn of the last century. Winkingly called “Soap Hill” (because Procter was one of those Procters) the four gents bought up a giant swathe of East Hampton real estate and built several grand stucco homes in the style of the day, all with views of Gardiner’s Bay to the north and the Atlantic to the south. .
Tickets for the self-guided 2023 East Hampton House & Garden Tour are $85 in advance, $100 day-off. Tickets are also available for the Friday, November 24 kick-off cocktail party and EHHS fundraiser at the Maidstone Club for $250 per person, which gives you access to the house tour the day before, too. All tickets may be purchased by calling 631-324-6850, visiting the East Hampton Historical Society website, or at the Clinton Academy Museum located at 151 Main Street between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, November 25th, or 10am to 3pm Saturday, November 26th.