A newly renovated Montauk home designed by the late architect Peter Blake has come on the market for $5.75 million.
The Armstrong House, as it is known, has an "upside down" layout, as Blake used to describe it: The onetime Museum of Modern Art curator and architecture magazine editor who hobnobbed with the likes of Jackson Pollock and Charles Eames liked to put living spaces on the top floor to maximize views of the Atlantic Ocean.
"I've brought back the house to its original character," says owner Roger Gershman, who is listing the property with Rylan Jacka and Ursula Reimann of Sotheby's International Realty and Chris Coleman of The Corcoran Group. "I call it modern bohemian."
Before restoring the four-bedroom, 2.5-bath house, Gershman, the son of photographer Norman H. Gershman, consulted with Blake, who died in 2006 at the age of 86. Gershman had been renting the home in the summers, starting in 1998. A full-time California resident who works in finance but studied architecture at Syracuse University, he says he fell in love with the house, though the structure needed work. "It didn't have the technology to withstand the conditions of the ocean," Gershman says, adding the interior was "moldy and beaten up."
Gershman says he wanted to buy it, but artist Gucki Mulally, the original owner, refused his offers until 2001, when he made a promise to restore the house to its former glory -- and allow her to stay there in the fall and spring for seven years.
Gershman spent some time drawing up the plans for the house, enlisting the help of a planner to work on the dimensions. He then hired builder Tom Gessler to do the work.
The project was completed in 2004. Mulally died two years later. A framed photo of her is at the house. "She is really a part of the family," says Gershman, who has two daughters, Alexandra, 8, and Sasha, 4, with wife, Daria.
Changes Gershman made include opening up a hallway that extends from the front of the house to the back, providing yet another view of the ocean. It contains riverstone flooring. He enclosed the garage under the upstairs deck, which featured a hot tub and a firepit; the space now contains an office, two bedrooms and a bathroom. There are new sliding glass doors on the first and second floors, and he built a deck in the front of the house from which two tall maple trees sprout.
And the interior was "totally gutted" and redone, Gershman says, adding that he tried to keep the design and furnishings "modern and clean."
He says he paid special attention to the lighting both inside and outside the home. "Anytime it's amazing," he says of the house, adding, "Nighttime is when the house really comes alive."
Current or former neighbors include Julianne Moore, Ralph Macchio, Uta Hagan and Tuesday Wells.
So why is Gershman selling? The full-time Marin County resident says he wants to buy a beach home in California and downsize to a smaller home in the Hamptons. "I've had an amazing time," he says of the house. But, he adds of possibly leaving, "Oh gosh, it's so sad."