Designer Steven Gambrel reimagines a 19th-century Sag Harbor whaling captain’s residence, now on the market with Saunders.
Renovated to preserve its historical character while adding luxe 21st-century details and amenities, the home features a double-height great room with sumptuous furnishings—a mix of antiques and new custom- designed pieces.
“It had the spirit of a sea captain’s house,” says designer Steven Gambrel, describing the stately building at 42 Howard Street in Sag Harbor. “However, it had been a boarding house and was clad in aluminum siding.”
Gambrel discovered the home three years ago and decided to refurbish it and resell it; today it’s a dream house more suitable for a captain of industry, with a new wing, featuring a double-height public room and a media room with a fireplace, as well as a 33-foot saltwater pool. Every aspect of commodious 19th-century life has been brought up to the standards of modern luxury living. “He went through a lot with the planning board to get this done,” says Saunders’s Terry Cohen, who is co-listing the property for $10.5 million. “Some lucky person will get a home conceived by Steven Gambrel without waiting three years for him to complete the design. It has captain’s beds and reclaimed wood floors that match the historic original ones, and you’re steps away from a marina.”
Also representing the house is Saunders’ Jane Gill, a former Ralph Lauren contract model who frequently worked with Bruce Weber and who now specializes in historic homes. “I love that he took this 1853 house and brought back its authentic character, with beautiful 21st-century touches, such as geothermal heating,” says Gill. “The house has 7,300 square feet with 5,300 under roof, so there are many terraces and porches. Captain [John] Overton had come in from a successful whaling expedition when he built it, so there are a lot of fabulous details.”
Some of those details were enhanced by Gambrel, such as “a beautiful back staircase off the kitchen,” he says. “It has a wonderful mud room with mercury-glass panels on the doors.” As for the sumptuous furnishings, “I’ve been going to auctions in France and London,” says the designer, “but a lot of it is custom furniture that I design. There is one 13-foot mural of shipbuilders with a giant mast running through it that I got in Baltimore.”
The house also boasts a heated two-car garage, a wine cellar, and a charming guesthouse. In fact, no detail of the building and its history has gone unnoticed. Says Gambrel, “Ballast from the ship that we dug up in back of the house was integrated into pavers.” Terry Cohen, Saunders,2287 Montauk Hwy., Bridgehampton, 458-4915; S.R. Gambrel, 15 Watts St., NYC, 212-925-3380