55 Summit: A Beacon of History in Downtown Sea Cliff
However, when John and Laura unexpectedly learned that their new home had landmarked status in Sea Cliff, their project got a lot bigger. Bigger, though, was exciting.
At the final walk-through before the purchase of the home, John & Laura debated whether they would remove a full bathroom on the first floor to accommodate a breakfast nook, a priority on their wish list. Constructing the nook would leave the first floor without a bathroom.
“During the final walk-through, John and I explored the area by the side door,” Laura recalls as they were about to make the first of many exciting discoveries in the house.
“The area was closed off with what looked like a storage area. When we opened it from the outside and saw the space, we immediately knew there was room for a half bath. That allowed us to build our breakfast nook without sacrificing a first-floor bathroom.”
John and Laura were comfortable with making all of the design decisions inside the house. The design for the outside, however, posed a different challenge.
“I needed guidance with the exterior paint because there are design standards & principles specific to the period & the style,” Laura said. “I did not want to own the house directly across from Sea Cliff Village Hall – the home of the Sea Cliff Architectural Review Board & the Landmarks Commission – that didn’t have the correct style of paint. My house is literally across the street from Village Hall!”
One of the unique elements of Sea Cliff culture is how architecture and design are baked into the community’s character. A long-time resident of Sea Cliff, Laura wanted to incorporate the color Tiffany Blue into the exterior paint design for her ornate, Victorian-era home. Her plan was to follow detailed Victorian patterns & principles. She didn’t, however, plan on what emerged beneath the outdated asbestos shingles.
“I was still working on Wall St. when we were removing the asbestos shingles and deciding on the type of siding,” John recalls. “Laura texted me a picture of the original cedar-shake shingles underneath the asbestos shingles. I immediately sensed that we might have gotten very lucky.”
The asbestos shingles preserved the original cedar-shake shingles on the house. This discovery was incredibly exciting. It would be a defining detail that helps to characterize 55 Summit Ave as one of the most unique properties in Sea Cliff.
“Usually when you pull down shingles or demo a house, surprises are not welcomed. In this case, it was the opposite. We couldn’t believe how good the original shingles looked after all the years,” John said. After the final coat of paint was applied to the preserved shingles, the house could return to its original glory.
John & Laura welcomed the unexpected exterior surprise and got back to work on the interior design. Recalling a humorous twist in the renovation process, Laura tells the story about the non-existent clawfoot tub.
“The original listing sheet indicated that there was a clawfoot tub in the third floor master bathroom. Well, that did not exist,” Laura recalls with a laugh. “However, that error inspired me to make use of an awkwardly small space. One of the only things we could do with the alcove in the master bathroom was to fit a clawfoot tub under the two skylights. As you can tell, that nook has become one of the best features in the house!”
The third floor master bathroom is part of a three room master suite, punctuated with a stunning view of Hempstead Harbor and Sea Cliff Beach from the bedroom window.
“Every night when I walk into the bedroom and see this view, I can’t believe this is our home!” says John. “We love this house.”
With the installation of the stone patio in the backyard, the renovation of 55 Summit Ave is now complete. This house is truly an entertainer’s dream. In late July 2018, John & Laura hosted their first party after the complete restoration of their home.
“Laura and I love to host parties, so we couldn’t wait to finish the backyard. The 2018 Richard B. Arnold Summer Soiree was the perfect way for us to celebrate the completion of our home!” said John.