Lloyd Harbor Modernist home backdrop for 'Masters of Sex'

Rob Anzalone and Jeff Wolk, the Manhattan residents who own the Lloyd Neck Harbor home used in Showtime's series about the husband-wife human sexuality researchers, give a look inside the house. Newsday/ Chris Ware (Feb. 7, 2014)

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Hidden in the hills of Lloyd Harbor is an unlikely architectural oasis. This Modernist house is more familiar to Long Islanders than they might think. If you're a fan of "Masters of Sex" on Showtime, whose second season starts Sunday night, you've seen a replica of the house. The pilot for the show was shot at this waterfront property.

That the house ended up as part of the show is thanks to its owners, longtime business partners Rob Anzalone, 52, and Jeff Wolk, 51, who also co-own New York City-based Fenwick Keats Real Estate and Fenwick Keats Management Co., a property management firm.

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"I thought the house was so fascinating that someone would be interested in using it," says Anzalone, who sort of Googled his way into "Masters of Sex," the show about pioneering sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson. The pair are chronicled in Newsday writer Thomas Maier's 2013 book of the same name and upon which the show is based.

Anzalone was right. Sarah Timberman, executive producer for "Masters of Sex," says the crew fell in love with the house.

"I think its Modernist style reflected the man himself," Timberman says of Masters. "It feels very much in keeping with a man of science and someone who is forward-thinking. It didn't feel like Masters would surround himself with antiques and traditions of the past."

Anzalone agrees, saying that the first time he walked into the house, it reminded him of "The Jetsons,'" a TV cartoon from the early 1960s about a family living in a futuristic utopia of cars that fly through the air and robotic maids. "When I walked in the living room, I just knew I wanted this house."

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Designed by architect Keith I. Hibner in 1955, the house was completed in 1956 for $55,000, with another $10,000 for the 2-acre property (as reported in Newsday in 1968). The house and property recently appraised for more than $1.5 million, Anzalone says.

Caroline Rob Zaleski, author of "Long Island Modernism: 1930-1980," says the push for more modern-looking houses started after World War II with Robert Moses. The New York State Pavilion presented Long Island as Region I of a regional plan that connected New York City and Long Island through a series of parkways.

"Modern architecture was the ideal at the '39 World's Fair in Flushing, Queens, and with Robert Moses as its visionary leader," explains Zaleski, who adds that the war had slowed the building process, which picked back up after 1945. She says the Modern look showcased "open-plan houses with modern conveniences in quasi-traditional styles. Many houses, especially those commissioned from architects, were in modern styles that allowed owners to enjoy the outdoors from large windows and, in summer, a kind of California style of outdoor living."

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Anzalone and Wolk's home, known as Hawk House, is one of more than 700 Modernist structures built on Long Island. "Most of what I documented has been destroyed or drastically altered, but a great deal of this historical period remains, such as the Hawk House," Zaleski says.

It was Anzalone who happened upon the house and convinced Wolk to come for a look.

While Wolk loved the Modernist look of the house, he says it was the view that convinced him. The house is situated on Lloyd Harbor and has 500 feet of waterfront with banks of large windows facing the water. The business partners had recently sold a farmhouse they'd owned together in Southampton "because it was too busy," says the former Hamptonite Wolk, who also owns the film company Hawk House Productions. "I wasn't looking for another house."

Anzalone and Wolk each own apartments in both Manhattan and Miami. They have owned the Lloyd Harbor property since 2009 and mostly use it for entertaining and holidays.

"The house is like a work of art that I just had to own," Wolk says.

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Zaleski says that some characteristics of the Modern style include large-pane windows, settings that are sensitive to nature and the use of a combination of then modern materials such as Formica and aluminum in combination with natural materials, such as bricks and untreated woods. "Also, most modern houses in the mid-20th century were built with local materials and a kind of modesty, as modesty of means was a way of life," Zaleski adds. "People did not want large houses postwar as they were too expensive to take care of and heat."

Hawk House, at more than 3,500 square feet, was in great condition, only requiring painting and some minor changes when Anzalone and Wolk bought it. One of those changes was to the entryway.

"When we moved in, the house was so dark, with all this knotty pine, like a cabin upstate," says Anzalone. "The first thing we did was paint the walls white. And, as you walk in, there was this bank of closets with accordion doors, which I hate."

After taking down the doors, they turned the closet into a bar area. If you watched the first season of "Masters of Sex," at one point Michael Sheen, who plays Masters, is seen preparing drinks at the bar.

And while Masters and his wife host a small dinner party during the first season of the show, they could have gone all out if they'd wanted to, as Anzalone and Wolk do regularly.

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Hawk House can host up to 100 guests. It also lends itself to lazy afternoons of crabbing, clamming, fishing and nature watching. On a recent visit, the two enjoyed watching a group of deer traipse through the backyard. "We see these hawks, ospreys, diving for fish all the time," says Wolk.

In addition to two large living areas and a spacious kitchen, the house has four bedrooms and a Florida room. Wolk has a master bedroom and guest room on the upper floor and Anzalone's master and guest room are on the main floor. A large patio with seating overlooks the harbor.

Other amenities include a floor-to-ceiling fireplace and 2½ baths.

Anzalone and Wolk say they love the TV show, although Anzalone is trying to finish the first season before Sunday's launch of season 2.

"My favorite scene is from inside the oven," Anzalone says of a scene where Masters is checking on a dish that is being cooked and the camera is inside the oven facing him. "The show is a lot different from what I thought it would be, but I love it."

And he says the same of the house. "We are surrounded by nature -- foxes, deer, tons of birds," says Anzalone, who just co-hosted a Fourth of July party with Wolk. "It is like living in a magical place."

THE SEX DOCTOR NEVER SLEPT HERE

The real Masters and Johnson never lived on Long Island. The two did their groundbreaking sex research in St. Louis. And, although the Showtime staff loved the house, star Michael Sheen agreed to do the show only if he didn't have to relocate from California to New York. So there is an almost exact replica of the house in California, which is where the rest of the episodes were shot.

Explains executive producer Sarah Timberman: "It is not unusual to accommodate someone of Sheen's] stature. There was no question we would shoot in California. As soon as we knew he wanted to do it, we made peace with the move back to the West Coast."

Timberman credits production designers Andrew Jackness on Long Island and Michael Wylie in California with seamlessly recreating the house, with a few necessary technical changes, in California.

"If you look closely, when Michael Sheen should be going upstairs to the bedroom, he actually goes downstairs," Timberman says of a change that was made for logistical reasons.

Timberman says that overall the house worked well for the show.

"I was here for the shoot," Wolk says. "The film crew was great. Two weeks after the shoot, it was like they'd never even been here."

Well, not exactly -- they did leave the camel-colored, wall-to-wall carpet in the living room and some 1960s-era dishes, which the homeowners use on occasion.

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