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Architect: HORACE GIFFORD, 1975.


Lawrence Bonaguidi, a repeat client, commissioned a “tree house” from Horace Gifford which clung to a dramatic outcropping at the eastern edge of the Pines. A twisting stair scaled the steep site, leading to a perfectly square foyer. A spiral stair passed the tree line, revealing preserved dunes that stretched eastward. In the gaps created between slanted, clifflike glass walls and the suspended floor, trap doors opened up to ventilate the home, drawing air through a large “chimney” skylight at the center of the space. The home’s remove from the ground, combined with the floor’s separation from its glass walls, doubled the gravity-defying excitement of life in the tree-tops. Two built-in sofas defined a sunken living area, with cushions that slid off their frames to create a fireside love nest. On the north side of the house, the slanted glass careened all the way to the foyer floor. To the south, the sloped glass walls linked the living area to the master bath below. Its mirror was positioned so that a primping or showering host maintained a visual connection with the public spaces above.


Marc Blackwell and Eric Reinitz purchased the home in a forlorn state. While respecting the essential gestures of the house, they have put their own stamp on it in the form of a poolside kitchenette, bathroom renovations, luxe accessories designed by Mr. Blackwell, and a roof deck that that soars above the ever-climbing tree line.


This home is featured in Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction.


Sketch: Horace Gifford. Cross-section: Rawlins Design. Fireplace Photo: Michael Dunne/ Exterior photo, pool in foreground: Tria Giovan. Other Photos: Horace Gifford courtesy Christopher Rawlins.

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