Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Writer's Summer House In The Hamptons

The 1960's through the 1990's were very different than today in the Hamptons. There was a different sort of society out there then. It was so much quieter. Now the Hamptons is a publicity society.

Truman Capote commissioned the two-story, flat-roofed, saltbox house near Gibson Beach in Sagaponack in 1961.
I bet he would fit in today. In the '70s he hobnobbed with Andy Warhol and the Rolling Stones and all the great society girls of the era. Who knows? If he were still alive today, he might have been at the center of P. Diddy's latest party, making little asides...taking it all in.

The house sits on six acres of land-including a bird sanctuary,
a long gravel driveway and endless vistas of scrub pine, wildflowers and potato fields

He liked to emphasize that he decorated the home himself: "For me it's a bore to use a decorator...I just don't care to have someone come in and tell me what I need to live with. I know."

You could hear the roar of the ocean, 200 yards away, from the screened-in porch. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room offered views to accompany the ocean soundtrack.
He liked to combine very elegant things with quirky bric-a-brac that caught his fancy. It was characteristically eclectic. The second-floor study is where Truman liked to read and write during the day. It was a comfortable room with comfy furniture and photographs and painted portraits.

He would remove his shoes upon entering the house, trying to preserve the highly-polished floor coated with blue boat-deck paint.

The blue floors brought a whimsy to the home’s stark lines -
I love how he painted all the wicker the same blue

According to Capote, he would rise at 7 AM and work for four hours, stopping only to read the papers. He resumed work again until 1 PM when he would stop for lunch. Then he would drive into town and do errands and walk the dog. Dinner was at 7 PM and if there were no parties, he would be in bed by 9:30, retiring with a book.
Work or no work, if the sun became unbearable, Truman would drive over to Southampton and have a swim in Gloria Vanderbilt's pool-whether or not she was in residence.

Truman moved in shortly after the release of the film version of his novella Breakfast at Tiffany's. He already had friends in the area, including Lee Radziwill and Gloria Vanderbilt-both were among the handful of women who inspired the story's heroine, Holly Golightly. Truman would seek out their company, but he also used the home for concentrated bouts of writing. It was here that he penned his factual murder account, In Cold Blood, and the now infamous guest list for his Black and White Ball. His longtime companion Jack Dunphy also resided here on Daniel's Lane, in a spartan cottage Truman later built for him 75 yards from his own residence.

In July of 1980, Jack Dunphy found Capote collapsed on the steps of his summer house with broken glass all around him. Dunphy rushed him to Southampton Hospital, where Capote told him, "I drink because it's the only time I can stand it." Three summers later he was dead.

The house recently went on the market for $14.6 million. The seller, is noted abstract-expressionist painter Ross Bleckner, who purchased the mid century saltbox house for $800,000 in 1993 from the Nature Conservancy.
Bleckner restored and enlarged the home. The main house is now 2,000 square feet. There is also a 1,900-square-foot studio, a two-bedroom guest house, a detached garage and a pool.
After Truman died in 1984 the house was left to his longtime companion, Jack Dunphy, who died in 1992 and left the property to the Nature Conservancy.


MissBliss said...

Great writer's schedule; I love the blue wicker too.

vicki archer said...

Fascinating post - the relationship between Capote, his style and his home. xv

vicki archer said...

Fascinating post - the relationship between Capote, his style and his home. xv

pve design said...

Val -
You know he was 5"3" and born in New Orleans!
Is there a modern day Capote?

Leslie Rowlands said...

Great Post, I recently bought the movie CAPOTE he was a fascinating fellow. Love the home pictures!
lamaisonfou blog

Kwana said...

Thanks for the history of the amazing house and man. Very well done.

Habitually Chic said...

It's funny how the Hamptons always get a bad rap these days. Most people go out to get away from the city and just hang out with friends, attend dinners and walk to Main Street for ice cream. There are a lot of parties for charity that Mr. Bleckner and others attend but the days of the White Party are over.

ArchitectDesign said...

I love how the home reflects his personality and is so eclectic and fun! Who wouldn't want to spend a weekend at the beach there!

KO said...

As the Visual Vamp notes, The Nature Conservancy sold the Capote property that was donated to them.

Property donated to TNC can be sold for development if the TNC chooses to do so.

While the Capote property was not pristine, TNC can sell property donated to them that is.

Those who wish the land they donate to remain in a natural state should donate to an organization that will not sell it.

You can read The Washington Post series on The Nature Conservancy here:


Linda Merrill said...

Excellent post, V*V! A simple view of a highly complicated man. Loving the painted floor.

Renee Finberg said...

fascinating stuff.


Visual Vamp said...

Hi Everybody,
Trying to get back to normal after the party.
Heather, I think this is the first time you've stopped by. Welcome!
Patricia - Yes of course we claim the diminutive and wonderful Truman as our own in New Orleans. He personifies New Orleans.
And there's no one like him - I think he truly was an original.
xo xo

. said...

Great post Valerie. Admired the man and now his home too.

Velvet and Linen said...

That is one great weekend home.
Love the walls of bookshelves and the two story loft space.
Wonderful post Valorie!


Carey said...

Well, I just love Truman Capote's writer's nest and the personal & eclectic warmth he filled it with (though sorry-and a bit shocked-to hear The Nature Conservancy let it out of their hands, hmmm). To have all that natural solitude and the ocean's roar as a constant companion is a lifelong daydream of mine. Before ever reading any of Capote's actual work, I studied a long, detailed biography which was captivating and heartbreaking. The first Capote books I read were "A Christmas Memory," "The Thanksgiving Visitor," and "The Grass Harp, " - all three so tenderly and beautifully written. Experiencing his quality of writing was as satisfying as hitting a baseball with the bat's sweet spot. And he was so young when he wrote those! Of course I saw the film, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" decades ago when I was a kid. I finally read the book in my 30's, thus learning how much it differs in spirit from the film. Still, I'm so glad we have Audrey Hepburn's Miss Golightly to love.

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

What a great post and peek into more of his life and loves!