The Estate of Villa Maria
By: Gina Samarotto
May | June 2014
In a swirling sweep of brilliance, the spiraling center staircase of Villa Maria reveals itself in an air of gracious welcome. Through massive bronze doors, guests are ushered into a home where the lavishness of New York’s Gilded Age meets an aura of effortless luxury to create an effect that personifies Southampton’s unmistakably elegant, modern allure.
Originally built in 1887 by the partners of Lombard, Ayres & Company, the home in its early years traded ownership among a various array of captains of industry; each vying to claim her splendid attributes as their own. 1910 marked the start of the home’s reign as Grey Gables, christened as such by shipping magnate Edward P. Morse and his wife upon the purchase of their summer retreat. In 1931, after having been owned by several others including the stage actress Ann Murdagh, the Sisters of the Order of St. Dominic
acquired the property and bestowed upon her the name she carries today, Villa Maria.
After more than seven decades in the Church’s care, the property changed hands once more in 2005,this time to her current owners. After assuring the nuns that their beloved seaside retreat would be well loved and lovingly restored, the new owners began the process of turning back the hands of time to bring the edifice known as Villa Maria, back to her intended state of exquisite elegance.
As it exists today, the home is a study in grandeur. Overlooking Mecox Bay, her stone façade and rolling lawns give way to endlessly breathtaking water views. It’s an idyllic, opulent setting redolent of The Great Gatsby. It’s an impossibly romantic place where if one listens carefully one can almost hear the tinkling of crystal, Daisy Buchanan’s laughter and melodic notes from a jazz piano drifting throughout.
Despite it’s mammoth proportions, the 22,000 sf Villa Maria is convivially warm; an effect no doubt created by the masterful, architectural renovation led by Andre Tchelistcheff combined with the impeccable personal style of the Master and Mistress of the home - themselves prominent, preeminent design figures. The estate is surrounded in privacy afforded by a stone and wrought iron fence, an allee of evergreen Cryptomeria and a border of crushed stone and lush gardens; the portico of the home opens into a foyer where limestone floors and carved details frame a water view that captures your
heart as it commands your attention.
“The home is baronial,” says Tim Davis, “it simply cannot be equaled or duplicated in the Hamptons today.” As the top broker with the well-known Corcoran Group as well as a Hampton native, Davis understands the intrinsic local importance provided by the home’s history and sheer, unadulterated beauty.
A master bedroom suite, eight ensuite bedrooms, and three additional bedrooms are located on the upper levels of the home, though should those accommodations in the main house not be adequate additional quarters may be found in the attached artists studio or the gatehouse – itself a two bedroom, 2,400 sf jewel box located on the grounds of Villa Maria.
T: + 631.283.7300, www.timdavishamptons.com
Excerpt from the article published in the May | June 2014 issue of Private Air Luxury Homes Magazine.