When Ann Kayman was living in Long Beach in the 1980s and ’90s, she was fascinated with the white stucco mansions with red tile roofs that dotted the streets along the ocean. The homes had been built in the early 20th century by state Sen. William H. Reynolds as part of a planned community, designed for the wealthy visitors to this city by the sea.
“It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to own a Reynolds home,” Kayman says.
After moving to Manhattan and renting in Long Beach during the summers, Kayman, a grant writer who owns her own business, recently purchased a 1906 home that is the first mansion that Reynolds, also the developer of Coney Island’s Dreamland amusement park, built in Long Beach.
Douglas Elliman’s Joyce Coletti listed the nine-bedroom, 3 1⁄2-bathroom home last July for $949,000, and Kayman recently closed on it for $900,000.
Called Cottage No. 1, the home was designed in an English style, with steeply sloped, multi-gabled rooflines. It was the first of about a dozen estates designed by the New York City architectural firm of Kirby Petit & Green, says Roberta Fiore, founder of the Long Beach Historical Society.
The home sits on West Penn Street, one of a few streets in Long Beach that is lined in the original red brick.
Reynolds — who also built the famous Long Beach boardwalk, as well as hotels, entertainment facilities and the railroad station, creating what Fiore calls a “city of play” — modeled the international styles of the homes, which include French, German and Japanese influences, on the architecture at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, Fiore says. Later, dozens of additional white or cream-colored stucco homes, built without the assistance of Kirby Petit & Green, were built north of the boardwalk.
“This man took a sandbar and turned it into a self-governing city,” Fiore says of Reynolds.
The three-story home has many original details, including parquet floors and an ornate marble fireplace in the living room. A small hole in the floor of the formal dining room, which has been filled, once held a button that the homeowner would press to summon the servants. The help had a separate wing of the home, accessed by a tucked-away staircase off the kitchen that still remains, behind a pocket door.
In the living room is also a door, hidden behind a bookcase that swings out, leading to an enclosed porch. It is not clear whether that feature is original to the home.
Kayman understands that she has a long renovation ahead of her, but is enthusiastic about the home’s potential. She is already filling it with period pieces, including a coat tree that she collected during her travels.
There have been few updates to the home in recent years, and Coletti says that the sellers appreciated that Kayman wanted to preserve it.
“Some potential buyers didn’t appreciate the history, but Ann did,” Coletti says.