Historic Sag Harbor Home Once Listed at $21 Million, Trades at $9.5 Million

238 Main Street, Sag Harbor
Credit: Corcoran

The real estate market in the Hamptons has been booming during the COVID-19 pandemic with many record-sale prices, but one house in Sag Harbor has gone for less than half of its original asking price. Yet, it is still generating interest.

The 187-year-old Greek Revival at 238 Main Street, known as the Nathan P. Howell House, originally hit the market a couple of years ago for $21 million, but sold recently at $9.5 million, approximately 55% less.

Why? “When a house sits long enough it kind of gets stale,” says David Cox of Compass, who represented the unnamed buyers, who closed on the house about two weeks ago. But it was not for a lack of interest, just not the right price at the time. “When it was priced at $21 million, it had a $14 million offer turned down. When it was at $16 million, it had a $12 million offer,” he says.

The seller, represented by Susan Breitenbach and Cutter Koster of Corcoran, recently reduced the price to $9.5 million. Already, there are people who regret not being able to seal the deal before Cox’s clients.

Just last week, Cox received an above the sale price offer from one of those people. His clients, who have been busy renovating the house, which “already looks magnificent,” are considering the offer.

“This is a piece of American history,” Cox says, noting it was owned by Nathan P. Howell, one of the richest men in the country in the 1800s. “These houses have so much, not just history in Sag Harbor but so much history in America.”

Howell owned whaling ships and, in 1833, built the stately home in the bustling whaling port. During the height of his success in 1850, he expanded the house in the Italianate style, making it the grandest residence in the area at the time. His family owned the property until the 1870s.

More recently, the house was updated to offer modern amenities and the basement was finished for more living space, bringing it to 10,000 square feet. An elevator was added to service all four levels of the house.

Richard Demato, an art gallery owner and real estate investor, bought the house for a reported $9.75 million in 2014. While he also undertook some renovations, as well, he maintained many of the original details, such as double-hung sash windows, shutters, acanthus leaves, fine millwork and trim, antique wide plank floors, and marble mantles. The house, originally listed with Demato at Brown Harris Stevens, sat at $18.75 million in 2017 and 2018, then steadily decreased.

The seven-bedroom house sits on one acre, unusual for Sag Harbor’s Main Street and has gardens with specimen trees and mature landscaping, providing privacy, as well as a gunite pool. A widow’s walk around the cupola allows for 360-degree views of the historic village. There is also a four-bay, climate-controlled garage with an art studio and a full bathroom.

Now the question remains: How much do the new buyers love the Nathan P. Howell House and will they sell?

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