Georgica Eccentric

Once a carriage house and stable, an architect and her husband call it home
Eloise poses beside the stone turret, which, like the nonfunctional windmill above, was characterized by Greta Weil, the owner, as a folly. The interior of the turret, below, opens off the dining room.

At a time when teardowns have become so ubiquitous here that everyone knows what is meant, it is a relief to find a sprawling carriage house and stable dating from 1902 that, aside from modest interior renovations and some exterior repairs over the years, is essentially unchanged.

It is even more unusual that the house is in the Georgica Association, and that its current owners, Richard Conway and Greta Weil, have no interest in tearing it down, even though the three-acre property could accommodate something much grander.

Mr. Conway and Ms. Weil had developed plans to bring the house into the 21st century without enlarging it or making substantial exterior changes, but the economic downturn of 2008 put their plans on hold. Ms. Weil, who has a master’s degree in architecture from Columbia University, is a partner in the 25-year-old Manhattan firm of Weil Friedman, which is known for apartment renovations and residences both here and in Connecticut.

During a recent visit on a warm October morning, the couple were closing the house, which is unheated and lacks insulation, for the winter. They had rented it every summer from 1990 until 2005, when they bought it. 

  “The Georgica Association was beautiful until people started tearing down houses and inserting historically inappropriate structures,” she said. Ms. Weil said that she and her husband left the house just as they found it.

Arthur Hendrick, a grandson of Mary Josephine (Mrs. Ellwood) Hendrick, the original owner of the property, said his grandparents spent most of the year in Connecticut except summers. The carriage house and stable was 400 yards north of their house. 

In the 1930s, “after horses became history,” Mr. Hendrick said that his parents did some remodeling and made the carriage house and stable their summer retreat. The stable became the west wing, the carriage house, the east wing, and a nonfunctional windmill connected them.

 “No structural changes were made,” he said. “My parents and their guests stayed on the west side, and the children, servants, and governesses stayed in the east wing.”

A second remodeling took place in the 1960s, after Mr. Hendrick and his brother, Robert E.P. Hendrick, inherited the house. “Dick Ridge did the work for my then-wife and me on the west side. My brother did some work on the east side, but nothing really major, except relocating the kitchen from the windmill to the east end of the building.” On the west side, Mr. Hendrick said, he, too, added a kitchen, topped by a sun porch.

While the east side of the house faces the site of the original Hendrick house, the west overlooks a broad lawn toward what used to be a caretaker’s house, where James McCaffrey, who later became an East Hampton Town Trustee, lived. Mr. McCaffrey was able to buy the caretaker’s house for what Mr. Hendrick said was a token after his grandmother died.

As Ms. Weil showed a visitor around her house, she said, “The footprint is the same as when it was built, and the interiors are the same as when we first rented. Everything is original. We haven’t done anything except paint,” which she seemed to indicate was a good thing, since the extensive wainscott walls of the west wing were a chocolate color. They are now white, like the ceiling and the rest of the wing.

In addition to the windmill, which rises above the roofline, a brick turret, or silo, with a conical roof is on the west side of the house. The entrance to the west wing is through a mudroom that leads into the dining area. To the left is the kitchen added by Mr. Hendrick, and to the right a remnant of the building’s days as a stable — one remaining stall now used as a TV room. The dining area opens into a vast living room with original wide oak flooring. On the north side of the living room are French doors, which replaced sliding barn doors, with the barn-door hardware visible above them.ond and third levels. 

The windmill connects to the east wing, where the style speaks more of the 1960s. Darker, rough wood paneling covers the walls, and the space is divided into living and dining rooms. The second floor of both wings is chockablock with bedrooms. In the east wing, a bridge over the living room connects the bedrooms to an open sleeping area where two beds sit back-to-back, creating the illusion of a mirror image. Ms. Weil said their dog, Eloise, is afraid to cross the bridge.

While nothing seems provisional, at least to an outside observer, it’s apparent that the couple would like to revisit their plans for making the house their own when the time is right.

“My ideas have changed a bit since the drawings I did in 2008, but all I would say is that we were updating keeping within the pastoral rustic typology.”

The exterior of this Georgica Association house, seen from the north, remains unchanged since 1902, when it was built as a carriage house and stable on the Hendrick family’s estate.
To one side of the dining area, a wall of the former horse stall is still intact.
From left, a Dutch door, original to the stable, allowed horses to take the air. The interior of the windmill connects the two wings of the house. The former carriage house was redesigned in the 1960s with ample living areas.
Greta Weil takes takes in the view from the dining area into the spacious, high-ceilinged living room. Her taste for white necessitated painting over the walls of the living room, which originally were chocolate.
The long hallway on the second floor of the east wing, above, runs past several bedrooms to an open sleeping area reached by a bridge. Below, a wood staircase twists its way up the windmill.
Looking at the west wing from the south, one sees an American flag on spectacular fall day.