A Sag Harbor Village house with a long history that goes back to the 21st Century has been thoughtfully and carefully restored. The Greek Revival at 20 Union Street, in the heart of the village, is asking $14 million.
Once the summer retreat of United States President Chester A. Arthur, it was known as the “summer White House,” during his presidency from 1881 to 1885. But the house dates back much further; in 1796, the John Hulbert-designed house was built for Lester Beebe, a whaling captain.
In 1876, it underwent a renovation by Stephen B. French, one of the owners of the last whaling ship to leave Sag Harbor who later served as police commissioner in both New York City and Sag Harbor.
Starting in 1986, Lady Caroline Blackwood, the Irish writer and Guinness heiress, lived in the house, receiving many interesting guests, such as the members of the Rolling Stones. Her daughter, Ivana Lowell, kept the house after her mother’s 1996 death, until the current owner, Anke Beck Friedrich and Jürgen Friedrich, who founded the clothing chain Esprit’s European operations, bought it in 2014. Records show it sold for $3.5 million
Since then it has undergone a total renovation and historical restoration by internationally acclaimed architect Steven Gambrel, according to Rima Mardoyan Smyth of Douglas Elliman. Anke Friedrich, in particular, painstakingly oversaw the details, from the insulation to the finishes, most of which are custom-made. “She has a passion for it. It’s like an artist, that’s what she does,” Mardoyan Smyth says. “It has incredible grandeur, but it’s manageable.”
The renovation, which took more than three years to complete, including giving it a new foundation, putting on an addition and reviving the historic features, such as plastering the walls in a diamond finish.
Now 5,900 square feet, the three-story house has six bedrooms and four and half baths. Steps lead up from the sidewalk to the columned-front porch and the large double doors. The main floor includes library that features a fireplace with a custom artisan designed screen and marble mantel, and a formal dining room and living room with an antique hearth.
In the kitchen are mosaic house tirol cement tile in green and custom designed cabinetry and floating wood shelves, painted a high gloss black with hardware of different metals. Appliances include a 48-inch professional Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer and 48-inch Wolf gas range, which has a wall-mounted, articulated pot filler in unlacquered brass, also used for the faucets. The free-standing hand-carved marble island was bought in an antique store, according to Mardoyan said.
A butler’s pantry provides extra storage with white cabinetry and floating shelves. The farmhouse sink in the butler’s pantry is made of green soapstone with counters to match.
The six bedrooms are split between the second and third floors, offering views of the historic village.
The master bathroom has a freestanding Bespoke-design tub and shower with FireClay tile on the walls and ceilings and a shower enclosure with custom antique brass. The double vanity is designed in Kenya Black with a leathered finish (the trim around the windows match). There is radiant heat in the floor, comprised of eight-by-eight antique black cement.
There is also a finished lower level, which has a media room with a fireplace and a wine cellar. In the laundry room, there are two Miele Pro 24-inch stainless washers and dryers.
Coldron custom-made doors and window hardware can be found throughout the house, as well as hardware custom-made by Gambrel.
The .34-acre property has a GloBrite saltwater, heated, guinte pool and spa with LED lighting and swim jets. A wide newly constructed porch overlooks the pool. Both the house and garden have a Sonos audio system.
There is also one-car garage and spaces for five cars to park.
The property has been on and off the market over the past two years. Who will the buyer ultimately be?
Mardoyan Smyth says, “Somebody who wants the real McCoy, the real history, the real provenance, the attention to detail. They don’t want any short cuts, they want the best and most beautiful that Sag Harbor has to offer.”