The Grey Gardens Renovation Is Underway-and People Aren't Happy About It
Grey Gardens looks nothing like it did in the photographs that accompanied its $20-million listing last year. That's because after Sally Quinn sold the legendary property, which was built in 1897, for $15.5 million in December, the new owners embarked on a major renovation.
The house at 3 West End Road in East Hampton, New York previously belonged to Big and Little Edie Beale, relatives of Jackie Kennedy who were the subjects of a legendary documentary (which inspired an HBO movie and a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical). Quinn and her late husband, former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, purchased the home from Little Edie Beale in 1979. Quinn previously told Town & Country she decided to sell the house that she and Bradlee had shared for 35 years because when she went back after his death, "Everywhere I'd look, Ben wasn't there." She said that after she put it on the market, she felt "an enormous sense of relief, like a burden had been lifted off me."
With Quinn gone and much of the home's furniture sold off in an estate sale last November, the new owners (who shielded their identities by purchasing through a limited liability company) are taking steps to make the home their own. Frank Newbold, an associate broker at Sotheby’s International Realty, who represented them during the sale and chairs the village zoning board of appeals, told the East Hampton Star they are "a young family who know and love East Hampton and who are eager to respect and restore Grey Gardens."
But some are skeptical. "The new owners are gutting out grey gardens, I hope they're not tearing it down," one Facebook user commented.
The new owners are gutting out grey gardens, I hope they're not tearing it down .... ???????????? #Greygardens, #littleedie, #bigEdie , #easthamptonPosted by J.r. Clem on Tuesday, February 27, 2018
A partner at the firm that the owners have tapped to oversee the renovation, John Hummel and Associates Custom Builders, says they're taking every step possible to preserve as much of the original home as possible.
"They’re adamant about saving every piece of trim and paneling," Kevin Hummel told the Star. "When we took down the chimneys, we saved the original bricks to be reused."
The renovation calls for transforming a current crawl space into a fully finished basement, which will require lifting the house off its foundation, but Hummel said “nothing is changing with the aesthetics."
"The owners have been researching books and documents about the house for years," he noted. "They really want this house to go back to the way it was 100 years ago. They don’t even want it to look like a new paint job was done."
The Star reports that the building plans for the renovation indicate that radiant heat floors will be added to the bathrooms, kitchen, sun room, and master bedroom, and the finished basement will feature a wine room, exercise room, and recreation room. When it's finished, the renovated Grey Gardens is expected to include 33 rooms, with seven bedrooms, eight full bathrooms, and two half-bathrooms.
The new owners are also committed to restoring the house's namesake gardens, which became overgrown under the Beales. "They’ve hired a landscape architect to bring the garden back to what it originally looked like," Hummel said.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.