What’s a good thriller without a haunting beach house? Isolated coastal abodes are at the center of “What Lies Beneath,” “Sleeping with the Enemy,” “The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair,” as well as “Play Misty for Me.” And now, “The Undoing,” HBO’s latest limited series (which airs Sundays at 9 p.m.), finds its central character, Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman), hiding out at a remote seaside dwelling in order to escape media scrutiny after a fellow mother at her son’s prestigious school is murdered and her husband, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), goes simultaneously missing.
The towering shingled abode certainly casts a spell the moment it comes onscreen – and I wasn’t the only one to take notice. Julia Sweeten of the Hooked on Houses website was equally mesmerized, dedicating a post to the place in which she identifies it as a vacation rental in real life, located in the Rocky Point area of Long Island. From there, our own Mark David, who knows the region well, pinpointed the address as 280 Rosenburg Rd./5795 Rocky Point Rd. in East Marion. As it turns out, the property has quite a history!
The rambling structure originally served as a life-saving station operated by the U.S. government, hence the large five-story tower that dominates its north side. Though the vacation rental listing notes that the property dates back to 1893, newspapers of the day report that construction actually began in the spring of 1896 and the facility opened to the public on December 1st of that year. Contracted by Glover & Spear of Rockland, Maine, with masonry work by Morris Rogers & Son, building costs totaled $6,880. According to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the station (which you can see an early image of here) was “the finest structure of the kind on the Long Island Coast.”
The United States Life-Saving Service was officially established in 1878, though volunteer, private and government-run stations had been set up along the Massachusetts and New Jersey coasts to rescue troubled mariners since 1787. With its craggy shoreline and frequent shipwrecks (including that of the passenger steamship Massachusetts, which ran aground in 1878), Rocky Point was especially in need of such a facility. It certainly served its purpose, too. As the Town of Southold, New York website states, the life-saving station “rescued countless people who otherwise would have been lost when their ships were wrecked off the sound shore.”
With Harvey S. Brown serving as the first captain, the Rocky Point station housed accommodations for the life-saving crew, a kitchen, a mess room, and space for storing boats. Per the United States Coast Guard website, the station closed in 1929, though it was utilized again during World War II and was then ultimately abandoned in 1946.
For more Dirt on Nicole Kidman’s beach house from “The Undoing,” click over to the gallery.