607 SHORE WALK
Architect: HARRY BATES, 1964.
Built in 1964 as a rental property, two minimal post-and-beam volumes--a main house and a guest house--frame a verdant courtyard, inspiring the nickname “Dual in the Sun.” The private nature of 607 Shore Walk illuminates the courtly reserve of its architect, Harry Bates, versus the voyeuristic bent of his rival Horace Gifford. But the lucky guests who entered this exclusive domain witnessed some of the most glamorous times in the life of the Pines.
Jeanette Edris Rockefeller, a socialite married to Governor of Arkansas Winthrop Rockefeller, purchased the home as her relationship with Rockefeller cooled. They divorced in 1971 after Winthrop left office. She bought it to be next door to her friend Joe Lombardo, an antiques dealer, designer, and brother of famed bandleader Guy Lombardo. They filled it with possessions from Winrock Farms, the family estate in Arkansas. Mrs. Rockefeller’s bed remains in the guest room, and a stone planter and sculpture in the courtyard exemplify artifacts from her tenure. Controversially, Lombardo ordered seven coats of paint applied to its maintenance-free, natural wood finishes in his bid to create a more stately home for Rockefeller. In 1969, Harry Bates returned to design a second floor addition to the property, but it was never executed. Rockefeller and Lombardo produced a fabled party at his home in 1972, featuring a full orchestra. It culminated in a fireworks display, with fire hoses at the ready thanks to a generous donation to the Fire Department.
An illustrious new chapter in the life of the house began in 1974 when it was sold to Ron Martin, John Macunovich, Jim Meade, and David Napoli. Their “Lady Pizza Goes to Havana” party transformed the home into a Cuban nighclub, circa 1940. Supermodel Pat Cleveland, pigtails aloft in helium-filled ballons, turned the courtyard into a catwalk at their annual Labor Day Party in 1976. The following year, DJ Howard Merritt used a 607 Shore Walk party to debut the disco anthem “Native New Yorker.” “Beach ‘79,” also known as the Party of the Decade, was conceptualized in its living room.
But in 1983, Ron Martin and his partner Dr. John Fenoglio began planning the Pines Care Center, as their home transformed from a hedonistic paradise into a site of loss, mourning, and activism. Ron Martin remains as the sole survivior and good steward of 607 Shore Walk, and served as an officer of the Fire Island Property Owners Association for 30 years, including as President from 2006-2010.
Photos: Tom Sibley.