Another Modern Loss in the Hamptons: Otto and Eloise Spaeth House Demolished


Susan Horowitz




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Gordon Chadwick and George Nelson
Otto and Eloise Spaeth House

Ironically, one of the results of the demolition of significant architecture is the renewed focus on the histories and influences embedded in the built environment. The innovative convergence of modern architecture with 19th century styles, mid-century design innovations and cutting edge modern art were all represented in the interests of the architects Gordon Chadwick and George Nelson and their industrialist/art collecting clients Otto and Eloise Spaeth.

In 1986 Paul Goldberger wrote that “its significance to the Hamptons cannot be underestimated: at the very moment when architects were deepest into their fascination with the stark forms of the International Style and least interested in recalling the Shingle Style, the Spaeth House was a triumphant allusion. It served to remind East Hampton in the 1950’s that the stylistic heritage of its nineteenth century shingled architecture had a continued validity and appropriateness to an oceanfront setting: by making reference to a relatively abstract model from that period, it also focused the Shingle style through a modernist lens."(1)

The complexity of the architects, clients and the influences on the exterior and interior of the house were presented in Long Island Modernism 1930-1980 by Carolyn Rob Zaleski.(2) Briefly, they included: Chadwick’s early history in the Hamptons with exposure to shingle architecture and barn vernacular combined with his later work with Frank Lloyd Wright, the scope of the Spaeth involvement in the public exhibition of modern art and the role of the house as a site for their collection including a new storage system by George Nelson, and the dramatic but informal aesthetics designed for living.


(1) THE HOUSES OF THE HAMPTONS by Paul Goldberger Knopf NY 1986 pp.- 19-20
(2) LONG ISLAND MODERNISM 1930-1980 by Caroline Rob Zaleski Norton NY 2012 pp.- 206-213