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A rare chance to buy one of Montauk’s fabled Seven Sisters

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The Andrews house

In 1879, a real estate developer called Arthur Benson bought virtually all of Montauk. He decided to turn the best area of it into a private hunting and fishing enclave for his friends. (While today we consider houses as near the ocean as possible to be the best site, back in the day that wasn’t necessarily true—for example, Carl Fisher later put the Montauk Manor on the highest spot in town, not by the ocean.) Benson hired the best landscape designer of the day, Frederick Law Olmsted, and a young architectural firm, McKim, Mead & White, whose most famous member today is of course Stanford White. Seven houses were built for Benson and six friends, along with a central clubhouse, where food was prepared and laundry done. (The clubhouse burned down in 1933, but the current owners of the property are planning to reconstruct it.) The area is now a historic district.

Today, the Montauk Association houses are considered important examples of the Shingle Style, a distinctive American architecture. These are restrained modest vacation houses, a cohesive group where each house is distinct but where none stood out as being more important than its neighbor.

This house was originally owned by William L. Andrews, founder of the Grolier Club in Manhattan. It was virtually rebuilt by Francis Fleetwood in 1992, with a kitchen wing added (original kitchens were tiny because the owners generally ate at the clubhouse).

Asking price for the Andrews house, which includes 2.3 acres of oceanview but not oceanfront land, is $18.5M. There’s 3800 square feet, four bedrooms and 2.5 baths. The listing says the property comes with "plans for future expansion by Alan Greenberg." No pool, but since other Association homes have one, it’s probably OK to add one. (The broker says more pictures will be coming shortly.)

This house won’t appeal to everyone, but for those with good taste, who want to be stewards of an important home in American architectural history, it’s a rare opportunity.