I'd live here. Chip Chop

I've been systematically travelling through my clip files in search of a single misplaced file that I need very badly.  Although that thin piece of paper continues to elude me (stranger than you might think, as said files are actually pretty well organized in alphabetized folders), I do find things that still charm and delight more than 20 years after I first saved them.   Such a house is this, pictured in photos from a 1984 article in W, unfortunately yellowed with age.

It is Chip Chop, the Martha's Vineyard summer cottage designed for the great stage actress Katharine Cornell by Eric Gugler in 1937, and for years a gathering place for nearly all the bright luminaries of arts and letters, theatrical division.

And here, not because I'm lazy, but because it so exactly and completely says what I intended to say that anything else would amount to plagiarism, I am sending you to this article  about Chip
Chop by Carol Vogel in the May 31st New York Times ---- for which, maddeningly, the usual 'permissions' link is missing, otherwise I would more conveniently insert it here.

As for the house itself, could it be better?  If I were to build a house, it would probably be much like this---simple shape and materials, perfect on its site,  few rooms organized around one central room---and how perfect is this one with windows on all four sides, and the great sliding doors on axis with each other  on the long walls.   The stucco guest houses are in interesting contrast to the main house, and simple charm itself.  This is a beach house as it should be---owners of overwrought 1990's Hamptons houses, take note.  And notice how gracefully this design has aged.  And look at the driveway, a simple dirt track through the field.  Does anyone know enough to do this anymore?  Nowadays, driveways seem required to make a statement, and no part of the entry is without 'moment'.

Eric Gugler was an artist as well as an architect.  His wide-ranging portfolio includes a remodeling of the West Wing of the White House for Franklin Roosevelt, and Arthurdale, West Virginia, one of Eleanor Roosevelt's many projects, the first New Deal Homestead Community.

1937, as I've mentioned before, seems to have been a particularly good year for simple houses on the water, using vernacular materials.  For another great example, click here for my earlier post about Fortune Rock here in Maine.


Toby Worthington said...

Wonderful house.
Now, could this possibly be the place where
"Kit Cornell is shellin' peas,
Lady Mendl's climbin' trees,
Dear Mae West is at her best in the hay.
Stomping through the thickets,
Romping with the crickets,
Make's 'em feel more glamorous and more gay."..?

(Lyric courtesy of Cole Porter.
I just couldn't resist.)

The Ancient said...


I wonder what's happened to that lion over the fireplace.

(What is it? Part of an old pub sign?)

Blue said...

Dilettante, would you share the west wing? Beautiful place!

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

thank you thank you- it is perfect. it is true when we are looking for something- we find the thing we really needed to see. xo, Gaye

(It Must be the Cole Porter place-it would have to be)

Mrs. Blandings said...

I was born in the wrong era; I could move right in. And, I sympathize with the missing tear sheet. I've done it myself a million times. It's maddening.

Raina Cox said...

Perfect in its (deceptive) simplicity.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Tobias, so clever of you to come up with that one

Ancient, good question. When these pictures were published, the house was mostly furnished with Cornell's possessions, left behind in the sale.
Clearly it is from the side of a building--pub? hall of justice? The article makes reference elsewhere to a symbol of capricorn (Cornell's sign) over a fireplace elsewhere in the house.

Blue, for you, we'll even have the wing done over in blue & white toile.

Little A, agreed, although I really really reallllllly need to find this missing file for some paid writing....sigh

Mrs. Blandings, you'd fit perfectly in any era---although wouldn't it be nice to go to a party there just after the war---sea breezes, a clutch of celebrities...Cole Porter on the piano...As for the missing tear sheet, I had it in my hands in January----

Raina, excellent observation. I do admit that I'd probably take somewhitewash and rub into those dark beams, and freshen the upsholstery...But yeah, simplicity at its expensive best.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Down East- please don't hesitate to call on something if you don't have something or are unsuccessful- so frustrating. I know my archives are not as voluminous as yours-(witness this post-a fav of mine!) but I will always check for you. Gaye

Blue said...

The wide planking in the room with the lion relief is superb. First growth do you think?

Love the blue and white west wing but may we work with stuff that is not twoyul? Blue linen, white cotton, cream artist's canvas, bleached wood floors, silver contemporary sconces, quiet graphic carpet in sand and black, silver-framed drawings hanging above and around a Robert Kuo cabinet, and an enormous blanc de chine bowsl of brightly-hued dahlias everywhere.

I'm so there. Oh, and I should have said this in the last comment - superb post.

Reggie Darling said...

I vividly remember seeing this house in WOI when it came out, and being riveted by its perfection. This is, to me, the dream beach house. Just a bit of (very minor) updating of the decor (guest bedroom is rather narsty) and I would believe myself to be in heaven were I to be so lucky as to call it home, however brief a fling I had with it. Thank you for posting it.

The Down East Dilettante said...

well, looks as if we're all agreed about this house

Blue, you're right, much better than the toile for that space. Linen & Canvas it is.

Reggie, you've intrigued me. I never saw the place in WOI or it would have been taped to my study walls. Is it possible that I missed an issue??? aaargh.

The Down East Dilettante said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
My Dog-Eared Pages said...

How divinely perfect is this beach house! There are things about it that remind me of the early Amagansett cottages designed by my grandfather Alfred Scheffer "Scheff"... the pickled wide pine, the beams, pergola, cedar shake roof, and paths through the dunes. Nothing fussy... just right. Thank you for posting this gem! Best, Barbara

La Petite Gallery said...

Beautiful spot, like the view at dinning table.


Janet said...

I think my headache is gone now. Oh, I SO get your point about the dirt road.

Anonymous said...

The house is in Tisbury and has been owned by Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer since around 1996. Ive always thought the modern part that you show was built was built in the 50s? Beautiful old pictures, thank you for posting them.

Rose C'est La Vie said...

Love the elegiac simplicity of this house. And the idea of all that playfulness taking place in it that Mr. Worthington suggests. I wish someone would invite me there!

David L. Smith said...

I have six chapters of Clifton Webb's unfiniahed autobiography. It will be published in July, 2011. Here is what Webb said of Chip Chop...
There were no telephones. Kit and I would drive to the village to do the marketing. I'd watch her milk the cows. During this visit I first met Gregory Peck, who was playing a summer stock engagement on the mainland. He came over to read for Guthrie for a play that he was going to do with Gladys Cooper. Guthrie took him into the studio, and Kit and I sat nervously, hoping everything would turn out all right for him. When they returned, we knew that Guthrie was pleased. We all drank a toast to his success. When the play opened later on in the season, although it wasn't a great success, he made a personal hit, which led him to fame in Hollywood.

David L. Smith

Larry said...

I remember when they b
Purchased it. I believe that it was the fist home on the island to break the 10 million dollar mark.