Returning to my sometimes pastime of fantasy house hunting for a property to house our “art b and b,” I discovered this gem. Three hours from New York City. Thirty-six thousand square feet. A steal at $1.2 million. Oh the things we could do there. Amsterdam Castle is already a bed and breakfast…
Built in 1894 by the state of New York for the National Guard, Amsterdam Castle is a 36,000 square foot private residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places. New York originally built 100 of these armories, of which nearly 50 are still in use by the National Guard. Other “sister” armories uses include a military museum (Saratoga), art gallery (Manhattan East Side), and a concert hall (Albany). This armory was decommissioned in 1995 and is the only armory converted into a home. This home has two guest wings available for bed and breakfast accommodation. - HistoricProperties.com
As of today, Carlos and I have a named residence in Sag Harbor, New York! “The Anchorage” is our future home, and the future home of the very loosely organized “Spare Room Residency” (a way to get our artist friends to visit us in the country). How country is it? When I called to set-up utilities, a real person answered the phone. AND, there is no municipal trash service. Now we’ll have real metrics for one family’s weekly waste production…
Even though the house was built in the 1930s, I like to imagine it as a “whaling cottage.”
Arrived at last in old Sag Harbor; and seeing what the sailors did there; and then going on to Nantucket, and seeing how they spent their wages in that place also, poor Queequeg gave it up for lost. Thought he, it’s a wicked world in all meridians; I’ll die a pagan.– Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Nautical kitsch dreams can come true. (See all boat posts.)
My visit to the Freeport Historical Museum last Sunday was quite pleasurable, despite the lack of air conditioning in the Civil War era “Bayman’s Cottage.” I was heartened by the all-volunteer (seemingly all female) staff, and their endurance of the heat and the low ceilings. The Museum Curator, Cynthia Krieg, helped me find the postcard below of my parent’s house in its earlier incarnation as The Wind Mill Inn, and a former Our Holy Redeemer classmate of mine, Regina Feeney, talked with me about Nikola Tesla’s Long Island Lab in Shoreham, and other architecture deserving of preservation.
As of July 12, we are living with my parents in my hometown of Freeport, New York. (Our plan is to lounge here until we relocate to Pittsburgh in mid-August for a Warhol Curatorial Fellowship I was awarded at Carnegie Mellon University.) I was raised in Freeport, but I know surprisingly little about its history. I see this vacation as an opportunity to bone-up on all things Long Island, especially nautical history.
Growing up, I had heard tales of Freeport’s many famous thespians who took up waterfront residence here in the early part of the 20th Century. My parent’s house (the former “Windmill Inn”) was host to vaudeville era performers and operated as a speakeasy during prohibition. On a recent visit to my brother’s house (also in Freeport), I was delighted to find a newly minted historic plaque in the front yard, indicating my brother’s residence is built on the site of the L.I.G.H.T.S. Club (Long Island Good Hearted Thespian Society), whose members included Al Jolson, Victor Moore, Will Rogers, and John Philip Sousa. The Freeport Historical Museum has photos of the club in action, and I plan to make a visit there this Sunday (they’re only open one day per week).
One of the traditional Lights Club functions was the celebration of Christmas on the Fourth of July. Most of the vaudeville actors spent their Christmas days on trains, in dingy dressing rooms or in drab hotels. On July Fourth, though the temperature be in the 90s, the Lights’ Christmas tree was decorated and lighted, Santa Claus was dressed in his heavy suit with ermine trimmings, presents were placed under the tree and the members and their children arrived in their furs, mittens and earlaps, some even clattering into the club on snowshoes.
- Fred Allen, “Much Ado About Me,” 1956
Just three weeks till we make the big move from Houston to New York. While packing I found among my possessions, the 1995 audio tour of Graceland (obtained by my friend Joanna Spitzner, who was helping co-pilot my moving van from Chicago to Texas). We made a pit stop in Memphis to pay tribute to “The King.”
I hope you enjoy listening to the tour as much as I do. It’s as though I’m right there in the “Jungle Room” digging my toes into green pile carpet.
Find some amazing 360 views of the Jungle Room here.
Our home is for sale…
Contact: Andrea Grover
800 Aurora Street
Houston, TX 77009
For Immediate Release:
ORIGINAL AURORA PICTURE SHOW BUILDING FOR SALE
Houston, TX, May 24, 2010 – The original Aurora Picture Show building, a unique church-to-single-family-home conversion, is for sale. Located at 800 Aurora Street, Houston, Texas, 77009, the 1924 wooden church building houses a 96-seat cinema, with a four bedroom, 2.5 bath residential addition.
The property has been the residence of Aurora Picture Show founder, Andrea Grover and her family, since 1997, and served as the main cinema for the non-profit organization from 1998-2008. In addition to the monthly screenings that took place there for ten years (presenting artists Ant Farm, Craig Baldwin, Enid Baxter Blader, James Benning, Constance DeJong, Skip Elsheimer, Harrell Fletcher, Calvin Johnson, Sharon Lockhart, Eileen Maxson, Tony Oursler, and more), the converted church was host to many art community ceremonies, including 13 weddings (the marriages of Houston artists Francesca Fuchs and Bill Davenport; Claire Chauvin and Patrick Phipps, and others); and two memorials (including a tribute to Ant Farm founding member, Doug Michels). Additionally, the East Sunset Heights Association held their bi-monthly meetings there from 2004-2010.
List price is $409,000 $395,000, including pew seating, and a disused baptistry.
Photos may be downloaded at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gentleridevan/sets/72157624060187394
About Aurora Picture Show: Founded in 1998 by Andrea Grover, the first home for Aurora was a former church building where Grover and her family both lived and worked. Now the home base for Aurora Picture is adjacent to The Menil Collection. Since 2009, Aurora screenings have been nomadic and site-specific.
About Andrea Grover: Andrea Grover is a migrant curator, artist and writer.
Carleton Island Villa (Carleton Island, NY) looks so tragically beyond repair, that I can’t imagine who would buy it. Not me. Stop looking at me, you sad, beautiful old house. Built as a summer residence in 1894 for W.O. Wykoff (Remingon Typewriter tycoon), the home was designed by architect William Miller and had over 50 rooms, a crypt-like cellar, grand halls, libraries, and parlors. But with no inhabitants for over 60 years, this fixer upper is a downer. Creepily, Wykoff himself never even inhabited the villa, save one day. He died July 7, 1895, his very first night in his new home, of a heart attack.
Listed at $495,000 and “in need of major restoration.”
It reminds me a bit of another tragic ruin of the Gilded Age, Bannerman Castle.
And so begins a new category of my writing: Homesteads. I have an addiction to searching for dream homes, planning their renovation, checking out the region online, and then moving on to my next imaginary homestead. The current front runner in this time wasting game is “Cobble Mountain Lodge” for sale in Elizabethtown, New York for $487,000.
Situated on 30± acres, this historic Adirondack waterfront home, built in 1920, was designed by Thomas W. Lamb , for his private summer residence. Mr. Lamb is an internationally renowned architect of some of the world’s most beautiful theaters, including the old Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. This camp contains a total of eight bedrooms, seven full baths and seven fireplaces. The exterior is accented by stone work, including a stone turret which houses one of the upstairs bedrooms. This property, with all of its incredible details, must be seen to be appreciated. Cobble Mountain Lodge requires extensive work and needs that special person to restore it to its original grandeur.
I could be that “special person.” I feel a strange magnetism for any architect who has designed as many major theaters as Thomas W. Lamb.
I love nautical kitsch. While I was on Long Island, my parents were invited to a Bay House party, and I eagerly tagged along hoping to get some decorating ideas for my future houseboat. Bay houses (or Bayman’s Cottages) are small bungalows on the marshlands, originally built by fisherman, baymen and duck hunters, and they’re only accessible by boat. A few of the houses have generators, but most have no power at all, so it’s like camping. Around 1965, many bay houses on LI were moved to preserve the wildlife on the wetlands, but a handful like this one remain, to preserve the other wild life on the wetlands. That’s my dad “Capt. Al” sitting on the cooler on the right. He’s the one with the white beard, dark shades and the fat baby (my Gigi!) on his lap. Please also enjoy the stuffed marlin photo (hanging above the duck decoys and the beach glass).