One image in that sole book on architect Horace Gifford (a minor celebrity in the community for his distinctive cedar-clad structures) always stood out to James, a sculpture artist: a quartet of sunken sofas sandwiching a tangerine wood-burning stove. “My favorite picture in the book was our living room,” he reveals. Although he didn’t know it at the time, the window-lined space would soon be theirs.
Hara, a partner at commercial real-estate law firm Goulston & Storrs, had grown up walking by the undulating Gifford property, six houses down from her parents’ place, on her way to the beach. “His homes are striking; they leave an impression on you even as a child,” she recalls. The couple and their 4-year-old son, Judd, have taken the same route to the water countless times since. It was only in 2019, on the hunt for a year-round studio for James nearby, that it dawned on Hara that the homeowners hadn’t been there all season. Serendipity struck again: The family who commissioned the four-bedroom house in 1972 had just put it up for sale. “It was this fortuitous, looking-up-at-the-stars-at-night sort of thing,” says Hara.
In a series of serendipitous events,
a family finds themselves the
caretakers of a ’70s architectural
treasure on Fire Island.
A Twist of Fate
During the summer of 2019, Hara and James Perkins had a tradition of sorts. On lazy afternoons at her family’s longtime home on New York’s close-knit, car-free Fire Island, the couple would sip margaritas and flip through the coffee-table tome Fire Island Modernist.
By Lindsey Mather
Photography by Ngoc Minh Ngo
Styling by Benjamin Reynaert
May 8, 2021