A Southampton landmark for its uniquely beautiful façade, this eye-catching mansion dates back to the late 19th century, when the Hamptons was beginning to change from a farming and fishing outpost into a popular resort area.
For 350 years, there have been residents on the land. When whaling captain Barney J. Green purchased the property in 1863, there was already a 17th century house on the plot. Captain Green went on his first whaling voyage at the age of eight; his final voyage was almost 30 years later, when his ship was attacked by a whale, and he was injured so badly his crew thought he would die. He didn’t die, but instead went home to his house in Southampton and began taking in summer boarders. He was so successful as an innkeeper that he tore down the 17th century house and built a new, larger one, which became the bones for the house as it exists today.
Enlarged and modified over the years, the mansion’s basic form was visible from around 1900. In 1911, Captain Green’s widow sold the house to Stephen Peabody of Boston, a utilities executive, who named the property Four Acres. After Peabody’s death in 1945, the family sold the property to Henry Austin Clark Jr., an internationally known antique car collector. That same year, Clark opened the Long Island Automotive Museum in Southampton, which became home to the four hundred or so vehicles he acquired throughout his lifetime. (This writer fondly remembers the museum, which closed in 1980. If Mr. Clark liked you, he would drive you through the town in one of his antique fire engines, which he did once to the delight of a certain small girl.)
The estate’s most recent owners, the late hedge funder Alex Navab and wife Mary Kathryn Norman, who picked the place up in 2006 for $12 million, meticulously renovated the house from top to bottom, updating everything for modern-day living, but being careful to keep period features such as the original leaded glass windows, pocket doors, plaster walls, and vintage millwork. The Navabs have also long maintained a big spread at the illustrious River House building, in New York’s stodgy Beekman Place, where past and current residents include Henry Kissinger, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, and Uma Thurman, who picked up her apartment nearly a decade ago, for $10 million, from romance novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford.
Fronted by a horseshoe drive that passes beneath a porte cochère, the elegant three-story home offers twelve bedrooms and ten baths in more than 11,000 square feet. Listed with Harald Grant and Bruce Grant at Sotheby’s International Realty and Michaela Keszler at Douglas Elliman, the property has now come available at just under $25 million.
The interior manages to combine old and new with ease. Several rooms include elaborate plaster strapwork ceilings, and there is an impressive dark-stained library, along with several more sitting rooms and lounges. The kitchen is plain and ultra-modern, though the flagstone floors add a welcomed vintage feel. The bar/snack area off the brick-floored sunroom is obviously new, but the white marble counter feels correctly traditional, while the main entrance’s Dutch door lets the breezes in while keeping the pets from running outside.
Upstairs, there are several curtained porches and verandas off the bedrooms and, outside, there are a groomed allée complimented by exquisite gardens and great sweeps of evenly mown lawns. There are numerous seating areas around the pool, along with an outdoor fireplace and a built-in barbeque.
Having had just a handful of owners over the past 150 years, this lovely old grande dame is all gussied up and ready to host a new, albeit very wealthy owner.