Saunders, Real Estate, Hamptons

Hamptons Life

Mar 29, 2010 1:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

At home with Joe Pintauro and Greg Therriault

Mar 29, 2010 1:31 PM

It’s not uncommon for East Enders to own more than one home, but it is rare when a couple’s vacation home sits adjacent to their primary residence. Such is the case for award-winning writer and artist Joe Pintauro—who is perhaps best-known as a playwright—and his partner, Greg Therriault, a former potter who is now a psychotherapist.

The couple, who met in Sag Harbor and have been together for more than 30 years, delight in the unusual distinction of owning two neighboring homes in Sag Harbor Village, both of which they live in and enjoy. The two farmhouses are practically mirror images of one another in structure, but definitively different in design—the primary residence is chock-full of antiques and personal collections while the secondary “vacation” house is ultra-modern and sleek inside.

In keeping with the styles of the two residences, there are two outbuildings on the land as well, each complementing its anchor house. A small “Ruskinian Gothic” carriage house, once a boat house, and now Mr. Pintauro’s favorite place to work (he’s a 2008 Guild Hall Lifetime Achievement Award winner, among other distinctions), sits next to the main house. Across the back lawn is a neoteric pool-side guest suite for the secondary residence.

During a recent interview and subsequent tour of the homes and outbuildings, Mr. Pintauro reported how he came to possess the compound.

“I bought it in the 1960s from the money made from my poetry books ... It was a long time ago when things were cheap,” he said. “It’s a luxury but we love it.”

The two homes were built in the 1870s, according to Mr. Pintauro, though he and Mr. Therriault are only the second family to live in the primary residence, a charming, two-story farmhouse filled with light, love and antiques—many of the pieces preserved from the original owners of the house.

“We didn’t want to violate the real old authentic character of this place,” Mr. Pintauro said. “The aesthetics of it are very satisfying, very livable.”

In fact, the last person who lived in the house before Mr. Pintauro purchased it was Gladys Bassenden. She not only provided the house with a staggering collection of antique furniture and rugs, but also with scads of the latest fashions from the early 1900s (she had been a milliner). Additionally, until she died Ms. Bassenden until kept in touch with Mr. Pintauro and Mr. Therriault and advised them on the care and upkeep of the property.

“Gladys would always call me up around February 15 and say, ‘I want to remind you it’s time to cut back the grapes, don’t wait too long.’ Then she would call on Christmas Eve and say, ‘Where are you going to put the Christmas tree? It should go in the small dining room.’ So we would put it there,” Mr. Pintauro recalled fondly.

Some of Ms. Bassenden’s other contributions come in the form of antique, handmade Persian rugs, which grace the wooden floors of both homes. The coverings, which she referred to as “rain rugs,” had been stored in the attic to use in case of inclement weather, according to Mr. Pintauro.

“She used all new rugs in the house, those were the ‘good rugs’ to her,” he said. “But to protect them, she’d roll those all up and put out the ‘rain rugs,’ these beautiful Persians.”

For a while, the couple preserved Ms. Bassenden’s possessions but eventually decided that displaying her pieces would be more fitting with her wishes.

“We started bringing everything down from the attic and mixing it in,” Mr. Pintauro said, adding that he, Mr. Therriault and their frequent guests have found great joy in many of Ms. Bassenden’s leavings.

“There are trunks up there full of old, amazing hats,” he said. “We’ve had parties where people go up there and come down looking like Miriam Hopkins.”

The two men have such respect and tender feelings for the former owner that they keep a painting that she made in the house. And a small picture of her hangs in their dining room.

“Keeping the house this way comes out of that feeling of really not wanting to do too much damage to Gladys, who’s now long dead, to her idea of this house,” Mr. Therriault said.

“The house is so full of fantastic memories,” Mr. Pintauro added. “This is kind of like a little time capsule house, it gives us extreme personal satisfaction ... It’s like a nest. You bring your straws in and you make it what you want it to be.”

Lovingly filled with an assortment of furniture and objects from the couple’s former homes in Key West, Florida and Manhattan, as well as from their world travels and, of course, from some pieces from Ms. Bassenden—including antique finds, French pieces, Persian rugs, an Italian Murano glass chandelier and whaling artifacts—the home is reminiscent of an airy Key West bungalow.

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Absolutely stunning!! Thank you for sharing your beautiful home with us. And here's to another 30 years together...
By MaryMac (43), Riverhead on Apr 2, 10 8:31 AM
All those who buy an address, demolish History, and Character, take heed.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 2, 10 1:56 PM
Thanks for sharing your charming hosue and beautiful story with us. Priceless!!
By unelana (29), North Wales on Apr 7, 10 10:21 AM