This cozy Shelter Island home makes a bold statement with architecture inspired by some of the nation’s most famous residences.
Reminiscent of a smaller Mount Vernon or Monticello, the stately 66 Ram Island Drive on Shelter Island offers a private retreat with 110-foot dock on the bay.
In their desire to own a home unlike anything else in the neighborhood, some people are earning bragging rights not with colossal size or avant-garde design but by thinking small and looking to the past. Twenty years ago, Dr. Andrew Carlson, a heart surgeon, and his now late wife commissioned Peter Pennoyer Architects to design this cozy yet stately waterfront residence whose forebears include such historic American mansions as Mount Vernon and Monticello.
“It has pediments and a colonnade facing the water; it’s more classical than most shingled houses,” says Peter Pennoyer. “And it’s on quite a dramatic scale for such a small house. It has an open view looking down on the water and the harbor. It’s all about the site. The metal spears on top of the cupola are whale harpoon spears.”
Pennoyer is a virtuoso at designing traditional homes inspired by the past. While still in graduate school, he worked with acclaimed American traditionalist architect Robert A.M. Stern, and he has written four award-winning books on early 20th-century architects. This compact masterwork at 66 Ram Island Drive on Shelter Island’s Little Ram Island is appropriately named the Lighthouse.
Double-height ceilings and detailed millwork in the elegant dining room recall a bygone era.
“It is such a custom, elegant house, when you look at the moldings, the beautiful trim, the height of the ceilings,” says Carol Tintle, the East End regional manager for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, who shares the $5.395 million listing with the owner’s son-in-law. “It has such tall windows. I don’t know anyone who would spend the money now on such special millwork.”
The double-height ceilings in the gracious dining room and foyer summon a bygone era. Imposing gates and manicured grounds suggest the summer retreat of a business tycoon or former president. “It’s a very private, very grand-looking house,” Tintle says. “On the bay side, there is a walkway that leads down to a 110-foot dock.” The driveway is paved with Belgian block, and she adds that the grounds contain room for the addition of a pool.
Inside, fine detail work is omnipresent. “Even the kitchen has beautiful moldings,” Tintle says, “and the light from the windows above the cabinets shines down.” The cupola on the main residence contains an office with sweeping views of Coecles Harbor. There’s also a separate two-door garage with a spacious guest room over it.
“Magazines tend to feature ultra-contemporary homes that are very beautiful and exciting,” says Tintle, “but not everyone wants these great big houses with big, big prices.” She suggests that with only three en suite bedrooms, the Lighthouse might be perfect for “a highly sophisticated couple from Manhattan who want an elegant weekend getaway... It will attract the right person.” Carol Tintle, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, 28080 Main Road, Cutchogue, 734-5439. Peter Pennoyer Architects, 136 Madison Ave., 11th Fl., NYC, 212-779-9765