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Milk Paint, Old Beams and Worn Floors: Restoring Alec Baldwin's House

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News has trickled out recently that Alec Baldwin has purchased a new house in East Hampton and that his longtime Amagansett residence is up for sale. The Amagansett house is reportedly a "pocket listing," where the house is never advertised nor entered in any MLS. Well, that's no fun for us nosy types, especially since Alec's house is reportedly a beautiful old place. To find out more, we talked with noted homebuilder Jeffrey Collé, who restored the Baldwin house many years ago.

Jeffrey says, "I worked on Alec's house a little over twenty years ago. I've done a lot of historic restoration over the years. For example, Maidstone Hall, the old Gardiner mansion that was on Ocean Road in East Hampton. It was 16,000 square feet, in very poor condition and I brought that back to its original condition about 25 years ago. And I also restored Keewaydin in Southampton, which belonged to Anne Eisenhower, President Eisenhower's granddaughter. Right now I'm working on restoring the oldest house in Water Mill, which is in its original place where it was built in 1700 or so. So I've had a lot of experience in true restoration.

"The Baldwin house was built around 1700. Some records said 1697 and some said 1702, so somewhere in there. It was originally built on Montauk Highway and in 1756 it was moved across the frozen fields by oxen to its present location. They picked up the home, which was two stories, and they added a new ground floor, making it a three story home. So the first floor is 1756 or thereabouts, the upper two floors were 1700 and there was some additions added later, like a new kitchen and a couple of little rooms. We took those off and restored the house to the way it was in 1756.

"It was a very sensitive restoration. A true restoration in that we restored all the old beams, we restored all the plaster. We did add on quite a bit, but I made sure to get beams and floors that matched the originals, that were of the same era, so when you went from the old spaces to the new spaces, there was no difference in the feel.

"When a floor has been used for several hundred years, it actually wears in a path where people walk more. So we went out and we bought old foot-worn flooring and old beams that had the same kind of hand-hewing that was original to the house.

"We even matched the old paint. In the back of one of the old cupboards in the original house we found some old cans of milk paint. Years ago they used to make paint with milk. We took samples of that and copied it in newer paint. We painted some of the original parts of the house to match.

"Working with Alec was great. It was when he was married to Kim. It was very important to Alec to really restore the house very carefully and all the things I just explained, he was very passionate about that.

"He was interested in becoming knowledgeable about architecture and he was very interested in the home and how it got there and when it got there, and he was very interested in the history of Amagansett. He got very involved and was very passionate. So it was a great project."
· Jeffrey Collé [Official site]