Pristine Refuge on the Market

Because of the relatively small dwelling's earth tones it blends into the landscape. Douglas Elliman Real Estate

The other day a real estate team from Douglas Elliman held an unusual open house. The only invitees were members of the East Hampton Town Board, Nature Conservancy, Peconic Land Trust, local environmentalists, and philanthropists. The property is in an idyllic ecotone between salt marsh and forest off Northwest Creek in East Hampton. And Chris Chapin, his partner Ray Lord III, and the owner want it saved.

The house, built in the early 1980s by Helena Curtis, a science writer, is most likely a tear down. If a new dwelling is built on the Arcadian property it will most likely be “five times the size with a copious septic system, pool, and maybe a tennis court,” said Mr. Chapin. The view from such an abode would be breathtaking, but not so much for everyone else who would see a monstrous edifice blighting what has been a wilderness vista from time immemorial.

The owner, an heir of Ms. Curtis, listed the shy five-acre property in November for $3.2 million, and lowered it in February to $2.95. It is still on the market, yet the owner would prefer to see the  land purchased by an entity that would return it to its natural state. Ms. Curtis, a traveler, settled there because it reminded her of Africa.

Mr. Chapin, said it would be an ideal location in which to reintroduce the Eastern mud turtle, a species abundant here till it was nearly wiped out in the '50s by DDT. “This is a rare habitat in the middle of a preserve,” he said of the property just north of Swamp Road. “It is an untouched salt marsh that is an important breeding ground for many species of fish and a shellfish hatchery.” If bought by a public entity, “we could turn back the clock and re-wild it. It would be possible to walk along almost the entire eastern shore of Northwest Creek without trespassing upon private property.”

“The town has the money,” he said. “Because of the high recent sales volume the transfer tax monies are waiting for somewhere to go.”

The estuary is considered the most pristine on the South Fork.Douglas Elliman Real Estate