The Springs house affectionately named Squirrel Hall, a place with a rich history tied to East Hampton’s artist colony, is on the market for the first time in 60 years. Sotheby’s International Realty has it listed at $2.475 million with agents Jenny Landey and Ethan Dayton.
For four years in the 1950s, it was the home and art studio of Conrad Marca-Relli, a member of the first generation of abstract expressionist painters, and its location at 852 Springs Fireplace Road put it, at the time, right next door to Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner’s home and studio. The two properties are no longer adjacent, as a lot was carved out in between later.
The property is located not far from the center of the small Springs community, near the Springs General Store and Ashawagh Hall. Squirrel Hall used to be a community hall back when Ashawagh Hall was still being used as a schoolhouse, and earned its name because it had once been ostensibly taken over by squirrels, according to a 1977 article in The East Hampton Star about a talk given by the Springs Historical Society.
According to the paperback book Springs: A Celebration, Squirrel Hall was purchased from Springs Presbyterian Church in 1910 and then later sold to help pay for renovations at Ashawagh Hall.
It was from 1953 to 1956, while Marca-Relli and his wife, Anita, lived in and fixed up Squirrel Hall, that the artist was among his most creative, according to The New York Times in a piece about a 2011 exhibition of his work at the nearby Pollock-Krasner Study Center.
A friendship blossomed between him and Pollock and other abstract expressionists, such as Willem de Kooning, many of whom Marca-Relli had known from his time living in New York City. In fact, when Pollock was killed in a car crash along with a woman on Springs Fireplace Road in 1956, it was Marca-Relli whom police brought to the scene to identify his body. He would go on to make an abstract collage called “The Death of Jackson Pollock” and soon left the area. Marilyn Monroe and her then-husband, the playwright Arthur Miller, who married in 1956, reportedly once rented the home as well.
The rustic compound, which sits on 2.39 acres and dates to the 1800s, includes a shingled, four-bedroom, three-bath main house and a saltbox barn. Adelaide de Menil, an art patron and heiress to the Schlumberger oil-company fortune, gifted the barn in 2007, along with about a dozen other 18th- and 19th-century houses and barns she and husband Edmund Carpenter had acquired (six were donated to the Town of East Hampton and now make up the new Town Hall complex).
Part of Squirrel Hall was used as an addition to a house that had been damaged by a fire in 1976. “The division of, and addition to, the early structures, and their having been moved from one site to another, has made historic research and documentation of Springs difficult and controversial,” The East Hampton Star wrote in 1977.
While updated and added onto through the years, the 3,000-square-foot house remains a throwback of sorts to a time when Springs was an artist colony and homes were simpler. The living room has exposed barn beams (a large bedroom on the second floor also features exposed barn beams) with a skylight above, a brick fireplace, and clerestory windows with stairs leading to an ensuite master bedroom overlooking the meadow and preserve in the rear of the property that lead to Accabonac Harbor.
The sitting room also holds a brick fireplace, which was built by Marca-Relli, who was said to have spent a great deal of time renovating the property. The room also has an authentic oval window and a floor-to-ceiling bookcase that stretches from the wall to the fireplace. A staircase leads to a loft where one of the bedrooms is located above the sitting room.
Certainly a must-see for history buffs. An open house will take place at Squirrel hall on Saturday, November 7, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.