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Inside one of East Hampton’s most mysterious mansions

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As far as the “America Only” story goes, this is the story of the centuries. It’s an epic tale with a global cast, from Charles I of England, who was executed for treason in 1649, to the last Iranian king deposed by fundamentalist clerics more than three centuries later. Underpinning these imperial cameos are the founding families of New York’s legendary Hampton enclave and its masters at preserving one of the most historic properties on Long Island’s exclusive eastern tip. A dashing Jewish refugee with good taste.

At the heart of this story, of course, is the House: Gardiner Estate – A hedged 5-acre haven in the village of East Hampton. Robert Downey Jr. claims to be a neighbor, but few people even know the property is there. Complex facilities are common. However, they are usually found on former potato farms rather than on acres of land just off Main Street.

Shahab Kamalley outside her East Hampton home © Weston Wells

The estate and Gardiner name are as old as the town itself. The land dates to his 1648 and was claimed by the English-born Patter Familia, Lion His Gardiner, who arrived in 1635 and founded the first English settlement in New York State a few years later. Within twenty years, Gardiner amassed over 90,000 acres of his land. Much of it was obtained from Wydanuke, the local Montauket chief, in gratitude for rescuing his daughter who had been kidnapped by a rival Indian tribe in what is now Rhode Island.

View of the alley leading to the pool

View of the alley leading to the pool © Weston Wells

Robert and Eunice Gardiner entertaining in their home in 1966
Robert and Eunice Gardiner entertaining in their home in 1966 © Alfred Eisenstaedt/The Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock

The most famous parcel is Gardiners Island, a 3,300-acre densely forested island in Gardiners Bay, 10 miles from East Hampton. Granted to Mr. and Mrs. Gardiners by decree of Charles I, the island is famous for burying Captain Kidd’s bounty in 1699. Today, the island is in family hands and is completely private and off-limits to outsiders.

For over 350 years, the East Hampton estate, like Gardiner Island, was continuously owned by Lion Gardiner’s descendants. That last Gardiner – Robert David Lyon Gardiner – was a childless former Wall Street executive who lived in his home until his death in 2004 at the age of 93. Island.” new york times Obituary. After he died, the island became the property of his estranged niece Alexandra Creel Goulet, with whom he repeatedly quarreled in court. However, with no direct descendants, the estate remained dilapidated and isolated until 1978, during the rise of the Ayatollah, when Tehran-born Jewish refugee Shahab his Carmelie defected to America. He studied art history at Sotheby’s in London and built a sizeable real estate development empire in New York and Miami. He stumbled upon the Gardiner mansion almost by accident. He had rented and owned nearby Southampton for many years, but a business contact suggested Calmeri to tour the property as a potential investment.

2nd floor foyer

2nd floor foyer © Weston Wells

looking at the house from the pool
View of the house from the pool © Weston Wells

The place looked completely haunted. The grounds felt like a cemetery,” recalls Carmery, whose grounds are obscured by towering bushes of mature arborvitae trees. He added humorously, referring to the iconic East Hampton home famously owned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s eccentric relatives. Karmely fell in love with a 12-bedroom, 8.5-bathroom, terracotta-tiled Renaissance villa. He also admits to being very intrigued. “I’ve driven past Main Street over and over. Who knew that five acres of land associated with this legendary family was hidden?”

House painted in 1920 by Frederick Childe Hassam

A house painted by Frederick Childe Hassam in 1920 © Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images

garden and parking lot on the side of the house
Side yard and parking lot © Weston Wells

For most of its history, the estate was inhabited by a series of agricultural buildings until the early 19th century, when the Gardiners built a wooden house that served the clan for a century in 1835. It also served as a “summer White House” for President John Tyler, who married Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in 1844, when he escaped the sweltering heat of Washington to the relative coldness of East his Hamptons. did. Clearly it had been carefully preserved, but in 1938, a hurricane that hit the east coast from New Jersey to Quebec devastated the house, along with many precious fruit trees, killing nearly 700 people. I was.

Just a year later, the Gardiners were ready to rebuild and ordered a fashionable model of the time. architecture Wyeth & King promised to come up with a worthy replacement. Founded in Palm Beach, the company is best known for producing many of the most luxurious piles in South Florida resort towns. Its peerless imprimaturity can also be seen in landmarks such as Shangri-La, the former home of Doris and his Duke in Honolulu. He is now one of the world’s leading Islamic museums.


Living room © Weston Wells

Hans the Pomeranian and Kiki the long-haired Akita and Shahab Carmery
Hans the Pomeranian and Kiki the long-haired Akita and Shahab Kamalley © Weston Wells

In East Hampton, architects replaced the region’s traditional wooden shingle-style structure with solid stone walls about two feet thick. Karmely describes the house as “built like a pit, but filled with state-of-the-art technology for its time.” With a spectacular entrance foyer supported by a formal dining and living room, the hotel is reminiscent of the buildings built for pioneering Hollywood movie moguls in the great Beverly Hills mansions of the same period. and

Along with its enormity, this history was unparalleled in layers and lore, and quickly fascinated Karmely, who understood its rarity and potential as both a scholar and an architect. “I was amazed, considering the proportions of the house, how the interior is arranged, even though it’s worn out,” he says. I was thinking of splitting it up and keeping some for myself. But as he learned more about the Gardiners, Carmarie understood that this was the place to seek control and protection. And save what he has.

main foyer of the house

Main lobby of the house © Weston Wells

Lively kitchen garden
A vibrant kitchen garden © Weston Wells

Karmely worked with her crew on a complex four-year plan. renovation It ended up taking twice as long (and costing millions of dollars). The process was painstakingly detective, spending hours locating and reviewing original photos and floor plans. Some were hidden in the house’s wine cellar, while others were obtained from the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Karmley admits that he is “more an architect than a conservationist.” But he understood the prudence of keeping as much of his original property as possible: after all, “they spared no detail in its design and construction,” he said. . “I had to get everything back to full working order. I didn’t want to make anything ‘Disney.’ ”

In practice, this meant adding or replacing “behind the house” necessities such as new elevators, geothermal heating, and an elaborate security system with 32 individual cameras. The home’s decorative window shutters and vaulted French doors have all been updated, and the bathrooms have also been updated and covered in heated marble to match the books. A mahogany-lined screening room has also been added on the top floor. The exterior walls were painted in period colors by the British company M&L Paints.

Gardiner Island Guests with Robert and Eunice
Robert and Eunice with guests on Gardiner Island | © Alfred Eisenstaedt/The Life Picture Collection/Shutterstock
dining room

Dining room © Weston Wells

Meanwhile, inside, an Italian father-son team from Italy spent a year applying Venetian stucco and handcrafted plaster moldings throughout the interior. “They lived in a staff apartment above the garage,” he says. Accented with custom lighting by Best & Lloyd, founded in Birmingham, England in 1840, the house also houses an impressive collection of artwork, from 17th-century Dutch landscapes to his latest NFTs.

Only one wall has been removed throughout the house. It was demolished to make room for the breakfast nook in the kitchen. “Everything else was left untouched,” Karmely says, adding that most of the home’s furnishings are from George Smith and B&B Italia, and Milan’s Nilufar Gallery showcased the Chinese Art Deco-style showstopper. It is accented with antique carpets from India and Iran, including.

Landscaping was done in partnership with landscape architect firm Terrain.

Landscaping was done in partnership with landscape architect firm Terrain © Weston Wells

The grounds gardens have also received a significant and much-needed upgrade. At its entrance, Karmely restored her original U-shaped hedge. Right after that, some new fountains were added. Large-scale landscaping was done in partnership with landscape architect firm Terrain. Terrain is his one of many companies in Karmely’s professional black book.

Garage and 2nd floor staff quarters

Garage and second floor staff quarters © Weston Wells

sunken tennis court
A sunken tennis court © Weston Wells

“I knew quite a bit about structures and historical references, but the next thing I knew nothing about gardening’ he says. “Every weekend for two years, Terrain founder Steven Tup would drive east from Manhattan to the Hamptons to make sure we were progressing properly.”Today, Gardens at Karmely. is lush and fragrant, bursting with jasmine, rose organza and clementine. “You’re totally bathed in scent here,” he says.

The swimming pool has been updated, but the core DNA has been retained. An oversized cube of reflective black glass, designed by British artist David Harbour, is placed just beyond the futuristic pool of his house. Of the cubes that Harber himself installed on site, Karmley said: “But during the day it reflects the trees and sky brilliantly, and at night it lights up like a lantern.” Further ahead are the tennis courts and the beginning of the Orangery.

Nearly 20 years after first stumbled upon the Gardiner Estate and nearly four centuries after its name helped establish the East End, Carmarie now lives full-time in East Hampton with his wife and two sons. . Karmely said that with decades of experience and the perseverance to weather the inevitable delays and overruns, only a builder like him would have had the cojones to undertake a project of this magnitude. I admit that

“Even Hamptons billionaires and ‘money agnostics’ would be horrified by a project like this,” says Karmely. “Decades of building it gave me a huge advantage,” he continues. “This is what I do because this is what I do best.”

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