Art Village is a very special little neighborhood in the Hamptons community of Southampton, New York. Its narrow lanes and small, quaint cottages mean it frequently gets referred to as a toy village. Yet this tiny area has had a huge effect on American art and architecture, with ramifications that can still be felt more than a hundred years later.
So how did this toy village come to be? In 1891, the Shinnecock Summer School of Art, the first out-of-doors art school in the United States, opened to allow students from all over the country to study plein air painting under the tutelage of artist William Merritt Chase. The 100 to 150 students per summer either boarded with fishermen or farmers, roomed at local boardinghouses, stayed at the Art Club, which accommodated 30 women (and their chaperones), or shacked up in one of the dozen cottages in the Art Village compound. There was also also a larger house designed by McKim, Mead & White built for Chase and his family, which still exists, plus a thatched-roof windmill for pumping water, which no longer exists.
The art school was around for only about ten years, between 1891 and 1902, at which point Chase decided to return to summering in Europe. However, Chase painted some of his most notable American Impressionist landscapes in the Hamptons, and it wasn’t long before other schools popped up that were based on the Shinnecock model, including in California, where the Carmel School of Art hired Chase as headmaster in 1914.
The Chase Homestead at Shinnecock, William Merritt Chase, 1893
With three separate entrances, the 2.88-acre Art Village property on offer is unique in that it comprises a spacious main house plus three historic cottages and several additional outbuildings. Asking $9.995 million, the listing is shared by Hedgerow Exclusive Properties and Steve Gold at Corcoran.
Of the 19th-century cottages that comprise the compound, no two are like, but they all feature unpainted shingles, rustic stone chimneys, turreted bays, subsumed porches, and low, sheltering rooflines punctuated by dormers. Antoinette de Forest Parsons, in the June 27, 1895, issue of the St. Paul Dispatch, described the cottages: “The outer walls, washed by rains, and polished by the sun, shine like satin. Inside the cottages are finished in wood of a dark tone, and red curtains in the diamond-paned windows, or swaying festoons of vines that clamber up to the roofs against the gray walls make almost the only spots of bright color.”
Today the cottages are a bit more deluxe than rustic, and there’s not a red curtain to be found. They have not, however, lost one iota of their bohemian charm.