From the tiniest Manhattan apartment to the most sweeping palatial estates, greenery can change the feel of a home. (Not to mention, being around plants is good for you.) A newly listed property overlooking Fishers Island Sound brings greenery into the home in a truly distinctive fashion for an asking price of $8.25 million, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The greenhouse-evoking edifice does away with the privacy of opaque walls, bringing its verdant landscape into every inch of the unique living space. With glass walls on every side, the house doesn’t offer much privacy. The island home, however, has its own kind of privacy, nestled on a three-acre lot at the oceanic intersection of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Thomas N. Armstrong III, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1974 to the early ‘90s, owned the residence along with his family. He began visiting Fishers Island, which is only accessible by ferry or plane, in the ‘70s and eventually bought a home there.
However, in 2003, a fire destroyed the Colonial Revival house. Despite being 71, Armstrong set to work on a new structure with architect Thomas Phifer. “I got it into my head,” Armstrong told Architectural Digest in 2010, “that I wanted to live in the garden with my art. I wanted a steel-and-glass house so I could witness the landscape as I viewed the art.
“I replaced the natural history prints lost in the fire with a collection of midcentury abstract art. I had wanted to be an artist and have enormous admiration for people who succeeded and pursued their talent.”
Fortunately for Armstrong, the fire didn’t touch the gardens. “Tom had put heart and soul into the landscaping, and it was mature, with a bosk of apple trees, an allée of linden, and serpentine paths winding through secret clearings with elaborate beds and borders,” Phifer told the magazine.
The resulting home brings the experience of its immaculate gardens inside. But that kind of vision isn’t cheap. The $8.25 million price could be a record for Fishers Island, according to Leslie McElwreath of Sotheby’s International Realty, who represents the property along with Jim Reid of Mystic Isle Realty.
Armstrong conceptualized the gardens with landscape architect Morgan Wheelock. The process and details are outlined in Armstrong’s posthumously-published book A Singular Vision: Architecture Art Landscape, which is about the home and landscape. The latter of which contains elaborate flower beds, hedges, decorative boulders, fountains, and specimen trees, per the Wall Street Journal. Those flower beds include azaleas, peonies, and roughly 150,000 daffodils.
The rectangular house is 180 feet long and has around 4,600 square feet of space. Despite being open to its surroundings, a canopy of aluminum tubes keeps it from getting baked in direct sunlight.
Nonetheless, there is plenty of light inside, aided by six skylights. The rooms are separated by 11-foot-high walls that sit perpendicular to the longest exterior walls. Those interior walls, however, do not reach the home’s edge, creating two long corridors that run the length of the house. Those walls separate the living room, kitchen, library, master bedroom, and dining room. The house was designed without doors between rooms, with the exception of closets, bathrooms, and a utility room. So, the walls separate the spaces but still allow for a 180-degree view of the grounds at the edge of each room.
Window shoppers will instantly notice the art and décor. The home features striking modernist art and furniture by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Eero Saarinen, according to the Wall Street Journal. The furniture is included in the sale. The art is not.