Saturday, May 7, 2011

Springs Maintains Quiet Tack in Hamptons

Saturday, May 7, 2011
[nyopen1]Gordon M. Grant for The Wall Street Journal

Springs Wines & Liquors in the hamlet of Springs.

The hamlet of Springs in East Hampton, N.Y., is best known as an enclave for artists who made their names in the abstract expressionist movement. Painters like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning produced some of their most memorable work while living in Springs.

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At the time, Springs was a middle-class neighborhood filled with fishermen's cottages and farm houses. Most of it residents lived there year round and unlike other parts of East Hampton with sprawling mansions on the beach, property was cheap.

While Springs today is still one of the most affordable sections of the Hamptons, things have begun to change. In recent years, more boating fans have begun to discover the area. People have started to buy up the old cottages in Springs to renovate the homes or to tear them down and build new ones along Gardiners Bay, Three Mile Harbor and Accabonac Harbor.

"It has typically been an area where people look down their noses at," said Barbara Feldman, a broker who has lived in Springs for 27 years. "People just didn't want to give it credence because they thought it was low-end. But the houses being built up there are anything but low-end."

Gordon M. Grant for The Wall Street Journal

Former studio of artist Jackson Pollock at his home in Springs.

One factor is access to the bays and harbors. Vacant waterfront property has been tough to find for years along the Hampton beaches that face the ocean. While prices for homes and for land have been creeping up in Springs, they still aren't near prices for property along the ocean beaches.

Being on the bay as opposed to the ocean also gives homes some protection from the weather, said Ben Krupinski, a general contractor who grew up in Springs. Right now Mr. Krupinski is renovating a 4,000-square-foot home near Three Mile Harbor. In addition to relatively inexpensive homes with access to waterfronts, a lot of the newcomers to the area are drawn to Springs because of the tranquility and the great light, he said.

"That's why you had all the artists that would go there," Mr. Krupinski said.

Gordon M. Grant for The Wall Street Journal

Ashawagh Hall, which is used for functions such as art shows.

And for the most part, Springs is still very much like the hamlet that Pollock and de Kooning lived in decades ago—quiet, low-key and lacking the socialites that flock to other parts of Hamptons in the summertime. There are a number of restaurants in the area, but residents have to head out of the hamlet to get a lot of their shopping done.

Of the 250 properties currently listed for sale on real-estate site, the median asking price is $697,000, or $395 a square foot. In Amagansett to the south, it is $980 a square foot, and in East Hampton Village to the southwest, it is $952, according to StreetEasy.

Near Accabonac Harbor, there is a 5,000-square-foot contemporary home currently on the market. The six-bedroom, six-bathroom house sits on 1.9 acres and has harbor views. The home was built in the 1970s and was renovated about five years ago. The two-story home has high ceilings, a masonry fireplace and a professional country kitchen. It is listed for $2.5 million.

On Gerard Drive, there is a one-story cottage that faces the bay on the market for $1.5 million. The three-bedroom, one-bathroom home was built in 1930 and measures at about 900 square feet. It sits on a half-acre of land and has its own beachfront. There is also easy access to Accabonac Harbor.

Schools: Schools in Springs are in Springs Union Free School District, which has one school running from kindergarten through middle school. Older students in the area attend East Hampton High School.

In 2010, 77% of Springs Union Free School District students in grades three through eight received a proficient score on the math exam, and 66% of students received a proficient score on the English Language Arts exam. In 2009, the results were 95% for math and 86.8% for reading.

Private schools in the area include the Ross School in East Hampton and Bridgehampton, running from nursery school through high school. In Sag Harbor, there is the Stella Maris Regional School, which runs from nursery school to eighth grade.

Parks: Springs Park, a 22-acre park that has walking trails, is a neighborhood favorite for dog owners. People can also enjoy the water at Maidstone Park, a beach along Gardiners Bay. The park has picnic areas, a ball field and a pavilion. C. Gerard Park is another park off of Gardiners Bay.

Entertainment: Springs is home to the Pollock Krasner House & Study Center, where Jackson Pollock painted several of his masterpieces. The house has been preserved and has all the furnishings of the house since his wife Lee Krasner died in 1984. along with artifacts that belonged to Mr. Pollock. His studio has also been preserved. Also in the area is the Fireplace Project, an art gallery housed in a former garage, across from the Pollock Krasner House.

Shopping: Springs has some general stores for basic groceries, but for big shopping trips, residents tend to head to Bridgehampton or East Hampton Village.

Dining: While Springs is short on retail options there are a number of places in the area to grab a bite to eat. East Hampton Point overlooks Three Mile Harbor and specializes in seafood. Michael's serves American fare and Harbor Bistro has American and French cuisine with Asian and Latin twists. Springs General Store is a popular spot for breakfast.

Write to Joseph De Avila at

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