News March 2024

Sugarman House, Ward Bennett, c.1968, Southampton, NY. Photo: Adrian Gaut
Bliss House, Norman Jaffe, 1979, Southampton, NY.
Interior, Cohen House, Norman Jaffe, 1983, Southampton NY. Photo courtesy
Conason House, Myron Goldfinger, 1984, Southampton, NY.

The Village of Southampton proposes designation of four modern homes

March 29, 2024

The Village of Southampton on Long Island recently proposed the designation of four modern homes including the Sugarman House by Ward Bennett (1963–1964), the Bliss House by Norman Jaffe (1978–1979), Conason House by Myron Goldfinger (1981–1984), and the Cohen House by Norman Jaffe (1981–1983). DOCOMOMO US/New York Tri-State submitted a letter supporting Southampton’s efforts to preserve these architectural legacies, which can be read here.

The Ward Bennett (1917–2003) designed Sugarman House was built in 1964 for prominent television producer Marvin Sugarman. Bennett, a multi-faceted designer, is also praised for high-end furniture pieces he designed for office spaces as well as residences. Some of these designs are still produced by Geiger, a subsidiary of Herman Miller, today. As part of his legacy, Bennett’s works can be found in the collections of the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. The Sugarman House at 1360 Meadow Lane is being considered for landmark designation because of its historic significance to Southampton Village, its distinguished characteristics of the “warm modernism” or “soft modernism” aesthetic of Bennett, and due to his work being widely recognized during his lifetime.

The Bliss House, located at 88 Meadow Lane, was completed in 1979 and later renovated by Barnes Coy Architects in 2000. Norman Jaffe (1932–1993) is recognized as a leader of rustic modern homes designed in the Hamptons, yet the home had been under threat of demolition for a few years after owner Orest Bliss was set on demolishing the residence and selling the property. Southampton Village’s architectural review board is pushing to save the home, noting that Jaffe’s work is “of particular local importance to the Village of Southampton and to the Historic District.” The home’s application for designation cites it’s historic significance in the Hamptons, it’s distinguished and site-specific style of 1960s and 1970s modernism—and being one of the only homes to reflect this evolving style in the Hamptons, and Jaffe’s success, accolades, and notoriety for his designs in the area. 

Another home designed by Jaffe in the Hamptons, the Cohen House at 380 Barons Lane, is seeking landmark designation. The home situated on 3.5 acres of oceanfront property was designed for cofounder of real estate development and management firm Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation. The home underwent a renovation in 1983 that impacted its exterior, but another renovation completed from 2002-2003 restored important features of Jaffe’s design. The residence does not meet the 50 year age requirement for designation, however it does qualify under other criteria. It is being considered for its importance to Southampton Village having been constructed during one of the last periods of the town’s development, it is an exemplary reflection of the regional modernist style of the 1960s and 1970s—one of a few in the Village of Southampton, and for Norman Jaffe’s architectural significance.

Myron Goldfinger (1933–2023) studied under Louis Kahn (1901–1974), worked alongside Philip Johnson (1906–2005), and designed many residences across the Tri-State region. He was especially well known for his homes built in the Hamptons, and in 1986 Goldfinger became a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. The Conason House, completed in 1984 for Robert and Leslie Conason, was his most iconic work. The house stands at 1820 Meadow Lane. Goldfinger nicknamed the home a “Temple of Dunes.” The home does not meet the property age requirement of 50 years, but is being considered for designation because it is a notable example of late Modernism, representative of Goldfinger’s signature aesthetic, and because Goldfinger himself is widely recognized nationally and internationally for his high standard of design.

A fifth house, which is Postmodern, Norman Jaffe’s Roslin House (1989-91) at 1880 Meadow Lane, has also been proposed for designation as part of this group.

For full details of these houses download the report: Southampton Modernist Homes: Recommendations for Designation, by Kate Reggev, AIA.