A Storybook Castle in Southampton
840 Meadow Lane, Southampton, New York
Built for a business titan in the 1920s, Ocean Castle estate with 8.2 acres and 500 feet of Atlantic Ocean frontage is ready for its next chapter.
The storied Southampton estate known as Ocean Castle gets its name from its turrets and sheer size—19,000 square feet with more than eight acres and 500 feet of prime frontage on the Atlantic. But anyone who has gaped at its sprawling series of wings, nooks and entrances likens it more to a medieval European village.
“A very long house, which stretches over the dunes with lazy, casual grace making use of the various levels of the site to do entertaining things with individual units linked together to achieve something that attractively resembles a Brittany fishing village,” is how it was described in the feature “A House that Ambles Over the Dunes,” published in Town & Country in 1930.
Businessman William F. Ladd commissioned Peabody, Wilson and Brown architects to design his dune-nestled vision, completed in time for the summer season in 1929. For their Francophile client, they emulated the Gallic countryside with a concrete composite exterior fashioned to mimic the native, building stone found throughout its northern coastal regions like Normandy. The trompe l’oeil created buzz in the American design world at the time. Rust-red roof tiles, manufactured in Colorado of all places, also celebrate provincial France. Today’s developers dream of sourcing Ocean Castle’s oak half-timber work used for its exterior embellishment and cathedral ceiling’s rafters in the living room; naturally weathered at the bottom of a lake, the wood’s further exposure to the elements after it was installed ensures timeless quality and character that one doesn’t come across too often.
The Ladd’s desired to travel beyond France in their daily life here. They borrowed a chimney style from Bermuda, and imported colorful tiles by way of the Panama Canal for hallways and the dining porch. The poolscape’s monopteros, a circular colonnade sans walls that was ubiquitous in ancient Greece, also recalls Slim Aaron’s iconic photograph “Nice Pool.”
Rambling rooms—30 in total—surprise and delight with their unexpectedly details. One boasts a 17-foot-high ceiling, while another’s windows form the shape of a ship’s bow. Innovative design features include the dining porch’s system to raise and lower plate glass windows and screens to enjoy ocean breezes on pleasant days.
Through the genius of its manmade dunes and stilt construction, thoughtfully hidden by those very dunes, the site maximizes water views. The property sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Shinnecock Bay, where it meets Heady Creek. Boaters can moor watercraft at a bay-front parcel for easy ocean access through the Shinnecock Inlet.
Previous owners have added other amenities throughout the years. The heated, gunite pool spans 48 feet with an attached spa pool. There are also a tennis court, fitness center, sauna and game rooms that conjure childhood trips to Coney Island.
The attached staff quarters is conveniently located to the west of the garage bays and accessible from the service driveway. Everything else is located under one roof. Fifteen bedrooms include seven with ocean views and four for staff. Mrs. Ladd’s original bedroom features knot-free white pine rafters to complement its soaring, floor-to-roof open plan. Though some of the home’s rare design elements are destined to be keepers, new owners will most likely want to create their own vision just as Mr. Ladd did. Whether faithfully restored or slated for a full renovation in a whole new direction, Ocean Castle’s story is to be continued.
840 Meadow Lane, Southampton, N.Y., is listed for $75,000,000.