If your first introduction to Grey Gardens was through one of the movies (the 1975 Grey Gardens documentary or the 2009 HBO film starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange), then you may only know the house as dilapidated, vermin-infested mess.
But the home, bought in 1979 by Washington Post publisher Ben Bradlee and his wife, journalist Sally Quinn, for $220,000, was restored to its original beauty and is now for rent!
East Hamptons socialite Edith “Big Edie” Bouvier Beale shared the 28-room mansion with her daughter Edie “Little Edie” Beale, where they lived amidst rotting food and furniture, accompanied by cats, raccoons, and fleas.
Built in 1897 as a summer cottage for the Phillips family (who published the Detroit Free Press), it was bought by the Hills in 1913. Anna Hill, a horticulturist and writer, imported walls from Spain to build the gardens. In the ’20s, Phelan Beale bought the house with Big Edie’s money. After Phelan divorced Big Edie in 1934, and her father disinherited her because she wanted to be a singer rather than a socialite, Big Edie’s life went from riches to rags. Rather than move to a smaller place, Big Edie chose defiantly to remain in her home, even as it crumbled around her. Photo: The New York Times
Big Edie was the aunt of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and Jackie restored part of the house in the early 1970s to keep the Edies from being evicted. They lived in the house, practicing their singing and dancing routines, raising feral cats and feeding the attic raccoons, until Big Edie’s death in 1977. In 1979, Little Edie sold the home and most of its contents to the Bradlees. In 1984, Architectural Digest featured the home and an in-depth interview with the new owners about the renovation. Photo: Architectural Digest
When Little Edie showed the Bradlees, the home, she told them, “All it needs is a coat of paint!” The Bradlees completely renovated the estate, gutting most of it, but also restoring furniture found in the attic and scraping off layers of dirt to find the original blue, pink and green paint colors. Photo: Curbed
Ready for your own paint job?