Edward Albee wrote one of his three Pulitzer Prize-winning plays at an oceanfront Montauk property that recently came on the market for $20 million.
The four-bedroom, three-bathroom house served as the famed playwright’s summer home from the 1960s until his death in 2016. The house is where Albee wrote “Seascape,” which won a Pulitzer in 1975, says Rex Lau, a longtime friend of Albee’s and the property’s caretaker.
“He wrote it in the house and on the beach,” says Lau, adding that Albee’s upstairs study was typically where most writing was done. “Edward always said he would walk the beach and get to know his characters. He didn’t make them up, they came to him.”
The three-bedroom, 3-1/2 bathroom main house is lined with floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors that offer views of the ocean. With the amount of glass and the flagstone flooring in the living room and dining room, the house was “meant to be lived in as if it were outside,” Lau says. “When the doors are open, you really can’t tell if you are inside or outside.”
The 2.8-acre property, with 200 feet of oceanfront, also includes a one-bedroom guesthouse with a bathroom, an in-ground concrete pool, a pool house with a kitchenette and a tennis court. Neighbors include fashion designer Ralph Lauren, says listing agent Paul Brennan of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
“For its time, it was a very interesting beach house,” Brennan says. “It’s like the Montauk of yesteryear in the sense that everything is pre-existing.”
The house, Lau adds, was designed entirely by Albee. Nearly every tree in the property’s dramatic landscape was planted by Albee himself. “It wasn’t uncommon for me to come home and find him pruning trees in his 80s,” Lau says.
In addition to having won Pulitzers for “A Delicate Balance” in 1967 and “Three Tall Women” in 1994, Albee is also known for his works “The Zoo Story,” “The Sandbox” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.” Albee also earned many other prestigious honors, including a Tony Award for lifetime achievement in 2005.
“He was a very prolific man,” Lau says. “The property played a big role in his life. He only spent the summers here, but they were productive.”
Since Albee’s death, the house has been owned by The Edward F. Albee Foundation, which last year celebrated its 50th anniversary, says Lau, also the director of the foundation. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the house, he adds, will be used to redevelop the foundation, which provides free summer housing for writers and artists.
“We give them a place to live and work and get out of their way,” Lau says. “And, of course, we also provide time and encouragement.”