Back in 1906, a group of wealthy Cincinnati businessmen went hunting in the Amagansett area of New York’s then somewhat remote Hamptons. Richmond Levering, William Cooper Procter (a grandson of a Procter & Gamble founder, William Procter), Joseph Rawson Jr. and William Stanhope Rowe all liked the area so much — 90 feet above sea level, with a bay to the north, the ocean to the south, and plenty of hunting and fishing — they decided to form their own residential enclave.
The four men incorporated the Gardiners Bay Company and bought about 100 acres of what nowadays is very prime property. They subsequently built four stucco mansions, which they called “the big houses,” and the enclave is still known locally as “Soap Hill” because of the Proctor & Gamble association. In 1908, the group also started their own yacht club, which still exists today as the Devon Yacht Club.
Now, for the first time ever, the biggest house of all the so-called big houses, built by Cincinnati banker William S. Rowe as a summer retreat, has come for sale with Rylan Jacka of Sotheby’s International Realty at $18 million. Still owned by descendants of the Rowe family, the house is simply not used enough today to justify holding on to it, family members told the Wall Street Journal.
The U-shaped pink-stucco Italianate measures in at 12,760 square feet, with a whopping 17 bedrooms and 7.5 baths, all set on 8.6 acres of land. Four acres surround the main house, while the other 4.6 acres is preserved as reserve. The grounds include a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a hot tub, all in need of some TLC, as well as a legal three-bedroom guest house converted from a garage. Set on a high point of the property, there are both ocean and bay views from the second floor.
According to current co-owner Lucy Mackall Sachs, many of the fixtures and fittings date to the turn of the 20th century.