Guastavino House, Estate of the Day
This just may be the Southern Californian in me speaking, but was there a typo in this listing price? Can this waterfront home with a front lawn I'd mistake for a putting green and tile work by one history's greatest masters really be available for just $1,495,000?
OK, it's on the Great South Bay of Bay Meadows, New York, not the Hamptons, but still -- $1,495,000 and you can jump in your boat docked at the property's edge and take a fast sail over to Fire Island.
The brick Moorish style villa, which sits on 1.26 acres and has 230 feet of waterfront, was built in 1912. It has a tile roof built by architect/ceramic craftsman Rafael Guastavino Jr., who worked alongside his father Rafael Guastavino and designed more than 300 historic structures including Grand Central Terminal, Carnegie Hall and the Great Hall of Ellis Island. The 12-room home has five bedrooms and 3.5 baths in 4,000 square feet. There is a renovated eat-in kitchen, a formal dining room and sun room, a walnut-paneled living room and custom walnut-carved doors with depictions of crests and creatures. The hardware is original and there is a private terrace overlooking the water off the master bedroom. The property has a grape arbor dating from 1913 and a built-in fountain spouts into a decorative semi-circular reflecting pool in the rear of the property. The boat house in the side yard was Guastavino's tile workshop; his kiln remains.
This house is really all about the tile work. It's called "Guastavino's Tile House" in several architectural magazines and the entire exterior is covered in monochromatic fireproof square tiles with brick frames an accents. Guastavino, a well-known architect from Spain who came to New York in 1881, patented the "Tile Arch System" or timbrel system -- a technique of self-supporting arches and vaults formed by interlocking fireproof terracotta tiles in a herringbone pattern. His son continued the company into the 1960s.
The entry hall of this home is lined with pale tile walls above a terracotta tile floor; the ceiling is a mixed green tile display of Guastavino's signature herringbone pattern. The focal point of the living room is a tile fireplace surround with mosaic columns and a mantel made of decorative tiles depicting griffins and shields. Bands of turquoise tiles accent the arched glass doorways and windows of the sun room. The dining room has tapestry-covered walls above more tiles. The wall sconces are Steuben glass.
The central stairway walls are lined with interlocking quatrefoil and eight-pointed star-shaped tiles, set beneath a barrel ceiling accented with mosaics. A bias tile relief of a man on horseback is above the main stairway, where an arched leaded glass window depicts the Spanish countryside.
The Guastavino house has only had three owners in nearly a century. It is listed by Bonnie Williamson of Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty in Huntington, N.Y. The price was recently reduced from $1,895,000.
Gallery: Guastivino House