The historic (and oxymoronically dubbed) Tenacre estate, a timeless example of the classic Shingle Style, is situated close to the ocean in Southampton on three acres of land. Commissioned in 1920, architect John Russell Pope, usually considered one of America’s finest and most important classical architects, was working in a different, more relaxed mode here, to create a less formal house perfect for wealthy folks whittling away the summer months.
The romantically sloping gable and relatively loose massing of the building demonstrate Pope’s skill in this style. A critic noted in The American Architect in 1922 that “those elements of refined gentility that have become the outstanding feature of our domestic architecture” were present in the design. In his classical mode, Pope is known for the Jefferson Memorial, part of the National Gallery and National Archives, as well as work at Yale and Johns Hopkins. He designed residences for William K. Vanderbilt, Marshall Field, and Charles A. Gould, among others.
Though updates and expansions have occurred in the house and across the property over the last 100 years, the original owners, J.P. and Elizabeth Knapp, would probably feel right at home if they visited today. Measuring a commodious 15,200-square feet, with nine bedrooms and ten bathrooms, plus two more powder rooms, the house is listed at $24.95 million via Harald Grant at Sotheby’s International Realty.
Knapp was a publisher, known for a number of well-known magazines including Collier’s and the syndicated Sunday supplement This Week, which, by the 1960s, had a circulation of nearly 15 million. Elizabeth, his second wife, sadly died in the house in 1922 at the age of 59. She left the house to her only child, by a previous marriage, who sold it off in 1923. The house has since had several prominent owners, including hedge fund billionaire John Paulson and Esprit Europe president Jurgen Friedrich and wife Anke.
The current owner is shipping magnate Sophocles Zoullas, who was disinherited after he accused his now late father, art-collecting Greek shipping tycoon Nicholas Zoullas, of stealing and selling a $4 million Monet painting that the younger Zoullas claimed had been gifted to him by his paternal grandfather. The case was settled, according to press reports. Zoullas hopes to turn a big profit on the place; he bought it in 2009 for about $10 million.
Privacy is ensured by tall hedges and mature trees, not to mention a gated entrance. As befits a summer house, numerous outdoor areas are available for al fresco relaxation and entertaining. The entrance hall provides access to all the public spaces in the house, with old-school built-in details and fine finishings everywhere, from the living room, the sunroom, dining room, and library, each with a fireplace.
The spacious kitchen area includes a morning room, a bar, pantry, marble counters, and a center island. One side of the kitchen opens to a casual dining area and family room, while the other opens to outdoor dining and lounging areas. Beyond the service wing, which includes a laundry room complete with handy-dandy chute from upstairs, a half-bath, and a mud room, a three-car garage is equipped with lifts that allow it to accommodate six vehicles. A second detached garage, which holds another three cars, is topped by a pair of ensuite bedrooms that share a wet bar/coffee station.
The master suite offers a sitting room with fireplace, a separate bedroom with built-in banquette sofas, two bathrooms, half a dozen closets and a dressing room. Four additional bedroom suites occupy the second floor. A highly prized feature today, as current regulations forbid them, the finished third floor contains a further two bedrooms and a bath, while the finished basement includes a walk-in wine cooler, a media room, tons of storage, and a multi-room staff area with outside entrance, bathroom and second laundry room.
In this case, the pool house actually houses the swimming pool! The large indoor pool offers lap lanes for exercisers, a slide for the kids, and plenty of room to just paddle around. There’s also a full bath with sauna and a spa on the adjoining deck.
Not enough fun? There are vast lawns for croquet and badminton, and there is a permit in place to build a tennis court if desired.