214 BEACH HILL WALK
Architect: DON PAGE, 1962. Restoration and Addition: RAWLINS DESIGN, 2012-Present.
This early addition to the modernist landscape of the Pines was commissioned by Stanley Posthorn (1915-2009), a public relations executive for Time Inc. who was credited with the success of Forbes and People magazine. An art collector, Posthorn acquired early works by his friends Andy Warhol, Joe Brainard, Ellsworth Kelly, and his nephew Jim Dine. Seeking a coastal retreat as well as a place to display his art collection, Posthorn called upon Charles “Don” Page (1917-2007). The display of this art was accentuated by a blank wall across the entire front façade, relieved only by a covered porch that led to its front door.
Page headed the graphic design department of I. M. Pei’s office, and the plan he designed for 214 Beach Hill Walk was rigorously composed. Starting with a rectangular platform that hovered over its site on wooden pilings, Page laid out a grid overlaid with an S-shaped interior plan that cradled two planted courtyards. The remaining space was further delineated into a symmetrical array of screened porches and terraces. Its modular proportions were marked with black posts and horizontal beams that created an intimate scale within the gable-roofed rooms. All windows were aligned across their courtyards in order to see through the entire house. Alas, the home’s construction details and finishes were no match for the home’s graphic and spatial clarity, perhaps as a result of Page’s non-technical background. These shortcomings are being addressed addressed in an ongoing renovation by Rawlins Design. Vinyl floors were replaced with robust porcelain tiles in a matte, textured pattern. An out-of-scale brick hearth that created a trip hazard was reimagined as a floating, rotating ethanol fireplace. Subtle up and down-lighting was integrated into the black cross-beams. A closet that cramped the Foyer became a mirrored Bar that opens up the space while leaving the floor plan unchanged. The Kitchen and Powder Room were completely renovated, and the entire home was refurnished with new and vintage modernist furniture.
Further muddling the original design intent of the house was a lower-level apartment, built by subsequent owners, which bloated the original airiness of the structure. Rawlins Design reconfigured and integrated the apartment into the main house by transforming the covered entry porch into a glass-enclosed stair that presents a more in-viting face to the public boardwalk. The entry boardwalk was rebuilt in keeping with the original winding approach, while the lower apartment level was stained black to blend into the vegetation and restore a sense of lightness to the original, gray structure. Central air conditioning for the entire home was discreetly tucked into a closet. The latest phase of work integrates a new outdoor shower, hot tub, and a renovated pool into the ensemble. Combining formal restraint with dramatic changes, 214 Beach Hill Walk is an exploration in the art of forging ahead while honoring the past.
Photos: Tom Sibley. Magazine spread: The American Home.