Call me crazy, but when Selling a Historic Home, It would be Helpful if it IS Actually Historic


Dick Cavett is selling his home at Montauk Point for a mere bagatelle, $62million. Hey, if he can get that price, more power to him, that’s not my quibble.

What really bothers me is the copy in the listing.

A Historic Treasure
Designed by celebrated Stanford White of McKim Mead and White, and originally built in 1882-1883, this property has never before been on the open market in its 135-year history. As the paragon of the “Seven Sisters” built for wealthy New York City businessmen in the early 1880s, Tick Hall was one of seven summer “cottages” which today form a special gathering of private homes that together are listed on the National Historic Preservation List. Built for Alexander E. Orr and his family, the home was designated “The Orr House” in the nineteenth century. When the property was purchase by Harrison Tweed in 1924, he renamed it Tick Hall, after the nickname given to family and friends: “ticks” and “tickettes.


But minor detail, this:
A fire destroyed Tick Hall in 1997. 
Cavett at ruins

Now, to Cavett’s credit, and probably thanks to his insurance company’s largesse, the house was rebuilt.

……descendants of the original McKim Mead and White firm used “forensic architecture” and the highest of today’s building standards to recreate the house exactly. Hundreds of photographs taken over the years were combined, measuring the relative height of people or dogs and the home’s details to lay out exact measurements, design details, and construction techniques to perfectly reproduce the original building, including worn spots in the door sills and the creak in the stairway. But behind the beautiful paneled walls and ceiling lurk modern amenities such as high speed internet and insulation. Although the house rarely needs it, thanks to mild ocean breezes, it has central zoned heating and air conditioning. Other amenities are too numerous to list.

Which brings me to the title of my post. To my way of marketing thinking, this is a NEW home, built in 1997, not remotely historic, a certainly NOT a historic treasure.

I’m also a bit baffled by the copy that says:

A private path winds to your own oceanfront cove

A private path and a thousand steep steps…right? The house is pretty high up on the cliff so I call hogwash on the realtor-speak of a winding path.

Oh well, I suppose there are plenty of people who want the amazing seclusion that this home offers, not to mention the incredible unobstructed view. I bet it’ll sell quickly, for full asking price. Who will it be though? The Obama’s? Leo deCaprio? John Kerry, adding to his trophy home collection? Trump? Cavett is a known Trump hater so I suspect even if Trump put in a full price offer, it would be refused.

I’d pass. It’s not my idea of a warm and comfy beach home. You, are you a yes or a no?

11 thoughts on “Call me crazy, but when Selling a Historic Home, It would be Helpful if it IS Actually Historic

  1. Wow, that location is unbeatable, despite needing crampons to get back up the cliff. The house itself, meh, a bit too dowdy, Victorian for my tastes but if the bones are all new, redecorating would be easy. If you can afford $62m, you can afford to redecorate. I dislike all the dark wood and how dark the house interior is in general. I’d paint much of the trim, post photos online and get Cavett’s goat. He’s a snarky old hater, you are right. His show was good in the old days.

  2. Agree with Anonymous above. The location, view, and privacy is 99% of the value of the home. I’ve never actually been to Montauk and if I read the copy right, you can’t get to any of these Seven Sister homes because they are protected, like behind a gate?

    While the house isn’t my personal taste either, I do appreciate that it is understated – not a gargantuan ego trip house. I wonder if it could be torn down?

    The rain here is mind numbing. I might fly to California just to gt some Vitamin D.

    1. I think it can be either but I’ll defer to an expert.

      The choice between a and an is governed by the first sound of the next word. If it’s a consonant sound, choose a; if it’s a vowel sound, choose an. Although there are regional variations, the standard American pronunciation of historic starts with a consonant sound (just like the words hit and hipster), so the correct choice is a historic.

      The linked article goes into more detail and the commenters are not all in agreement with her hypothesis. An interesting question Nazi and one I paused about before posting title.

  3. My dad was a huge fan of Dick Cavett’s show and watched the interviews faithfully. He did get some incredible people to talk, my favorite was Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Dick was a good host, allowed the guest to do all the talking, but like so many liberals, of late, he’s decided his point of view is important enough to share, loudly.

    I don’t think Cavett has any children to pass this home on to so it makes sense to sell it before Uncle Sam raids his estate after his death.

    Agree with others – the home itself is too dark and Victorian. Surprised the photos didn’t show the kitchen. He’ll sell fast. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to have that location.

  4. The cliff erosion is troubling. Curious ad with so few interior photos and misrepresentation of historic qualities. I don’t see it selling for the asking price but real estate is a funny game. Wouldn’t be the first time I’d be wrong. Surprised, stunned, shocked but still wrong.

    1. Excellent point re the cliff erosion. If Cavett is a climate change proponent, and I’m sure he is, then he’d be selling a house he knows will fall into the ocean any day. Hmmmm.

  5. Methinks it is ‘historic’ in that they bent over backwards to re-create the house that was there originally. Anybody with $62M burning a hole in their pocket is going to know the full story and act accordingly.

    Doin’ the Bing thing with the maps, I notice that Andy Warhol’s Eothen is just a hoot ‘n’ a holler away – now there’s a beach compound that puts the Mmmm in Montauk. I coulda, woulda, shoulda picked up that for $50M…(lying about the coulda part).

    1. I suppose but really, the first paragraph is 100% about how historic it is. I find that very misleading, verging on unethical.

      But yes to Warhol’s pad. A much more Montauk digs.

      No one won the PB so it’s up close to $400m. There’s hope yet for your “coulda”!! 😀

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