Matthew Breitenbach | July 25, 2022

4 Most Popular Architectural Styles in the Hamptons

Architecture can tell us a lot about a country and its people. Changes in society, trends, and cultures are embedded in the architectural features of an area.
As the only site to be preserved by the National Park Service because of its architectural merit, the Hamptons exemplify diverse structures and landscapes like few other places in the U.S.
Like several parts of the country, the East End of Long Island is rich in history. But unlike these other areas, the Hamptons have perfectly preserved the architecture of America’s past. As new trends and designs in architecture began to take hold, the prior ones have been maintained so well that their stories remain apparent to any keen observer.
Today, the buildings at the Hamptons are a fusion of American design concepts and classic European architectural styles, making many of them unique and distinctive.

Here are four of the most popular architectural styles in the Hamptons.

1. Farmhouse architectural style

Photo courtesy of Harrison Design
The Hamptons were founded in the 1640s by farmers who crossed over from England; farmhouses were the first architectural style in the area. But "farmhouse" doesn't exclusively refer to style; it also relates to function. These structures were built on agricultural lands to house the individuals who worked on the farm. That is why farmhouses have several different styles.
The farmers themselves built the original style farmhouses instead of relying on architects. But as materials became accessible through the railroad, people started adapting to the popular style at the time. Landowners would look at a pattern book to choose which style they wanted and then buy the materials to build it. The result was architecture featuring saltbox-style lean-to homes built with pine paneling, oak framing, and cedar shingles with post and beam barns.
Although farmhouses may not sound appealing, they can be quite beautiful. Modern farmhouses have been upgraded for modern times, and some are even converted from barns. You might describe their contemporary style as rustic with chic interiors.
They have long, wide, rectangular designs and high-pitched roofs, allowing their owners to plan and design the interior as they see fit. They also have oversized windows and entryways.
Farmhouses are built with natural materials, usually locally sourced, including stone for fireplaces and foundations.
Notable farmhouses in the Hamptons include:
  • The preserved historical site, Home Sweet Home, built in the early 1700s.

  • 849 Hayground Road, a Bridgehampton farmhouse that sits on 2.5 acres. It was built in the 17th century and has five bedrooms and several modern amenities.

  • 52 Meadow Court, Bridgehampton, a beautifully renovated traditional farmhouse and exemplary piece of Bridgehampton real estate.

2. Shingle architectural style

After the railroad arrived in the Hamptons in the 1870s, so did the summer colony and wealthy scions of industry. With the money and accessibility to various materials, residents could hire architects to design grand summer cottages.
They left behind the highly ornamental Victorian-style houses for shingle-style homes that were more expensive to design and build. Shingle-style houses originated in Newport's wealthier coastal areas, Long Island's East End, and Rhode Island. Today, they are popular with homeowners looking for a cozy seaside home.
The modern shingle-style house features a shingled surface, asymmetrical exteriors, a large grouping of windows, spacious porches, asymmetrical facades, and many steeply sloped, complex rooflines. Overall this style carries an atmosphere of informality and relaxation.
Architects notable for designing shingle-style homes include Stanford White, a partner in the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, and Francis Fleetwood, who was greatly influenced by the work of Stanford White and designed more than 200 mansions in the Hamptons.
Some notable buildings featuring the shingle architectural style include:
  • A mansion designed for commodities trader David Campbell in 2001 that was among the most expensive properties in the U.S. It sold for $45 million in 2004.

  • Montauk Association Historic District houses, which McKim, Mead & White designed in 1883. They are restrained, modest vacation homes, a cohesive group where each house is distinct, but none stands out as more important than its neighbor. If you like these homes, look for your favorite Montauk lake house at the Montauk Lake Club.

  • The Seven Sisters on the East End, a complex of Montauk cottages built in the 1880s.

3. Colonial Revival architectural style

Colonial revival architecture is one of the most popular architectural styles in the Hamptons and around the country. That ubiquity is due to its inherent elegance and ability to represent a variety of forms.
The 1876 Centennial Exhibition reignited Americans' fascination with houses built by the early Dutch and English settlers. This interest intensified throughout both world wars and peaked in the 1950s. This iconic home style is still constructed throughout the country.
These homes are essentially a mixture of uniquely American styles. They are a fusion of previous colonial styles, feature elements from different colonial architecture styles, and are influenced by the more ornate Victorian-era homes that came before them. In short, the Colonial Revival style allowed architects and home builders to take the previous generation's architecture and revisit it with the current technological and cultural trends.
The side-gabled roof, with the triangular part on the sides of the house, was quite popular. Other popular styles were gambrel roofs with dormers and hipped roofs with all four sides sloping down towards the walls.
Most of the colonial houses in the Hamptons are about two or two-and-a-half stories tall, with the front doors typically boasting a grander appearance than their predecessors. It is common to find a paneled door with sidelights, a broken pediment over the door, and a modest portico with columns accenting the entrance of these homes.

Some iconic Colonial Revival Hamptons properties include:
  • The Colonial Revival home to the south designed by Sawyer Berson. It is clad in white shingles, accented with black shutters, and has a railing on the front roof inspired by Chinese Chippendale fretwork.

  • The President's House at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. It was built in 1733 and has perfect symmetry, balance, and formality. It has been home to the university's presidents for 300 years.

4. Modern and contemporary architectural style

When it comes to new constructions, instead of the traditional houses discussed above, the Hamptons are seeing more modern farmhouses and contemporary homes being built.
Modern homes have an eclectic combination of multiple architectural styles, featuring modern construction materials like concrete and steel. They also use traditional materials in new ways, allowing a high level of flexibility that many residents appreciate.
Modern and contemporary homes use expansive windows to allow more natural light. Some contemporary residences also have overhangs, asymmetrical exteriors, sharp angles, and straight lines on roofs.
Although they vary from house to house, most modern and contemporary homes in the Hamptons have swimming pools, well-manicured yards, sliding glass walls, balconies on the front and back, and outdoor entertainment areas.
If you take a walk along any Hamptons beach, you will see excellent examples of modern architecture. One of the most notable architects of contemporary properties in the Hamptons is Norman Jaffe, the “father of modern architecture.” One of his famous designs is the Gates of the Grove Synagogue, which has been lauded as the epitome of excellence in modern synagogue design.
Charles Gwathmey is known for the house he built for his parents in Amagansett in 1965, which he described as "a solid block that has been carved back to its essence."
Other notable architects also are responsible for the Hamptons' breathtaking modern and contemporary designs. Apart from the Gates of the Grove Synagogue and Charles Gwathmey's house, unique houses featuring the modern architectural style include:
  • BatesMasi+Architects office building in North Main Street in East Hampton. BatesMasi, whose firm has received 127 design awards since 2003 and is in the Interior Design Hall of Fame, received ID's 2017 Best of the Year award for this property. The simple office building sits and blends comfortably into its traditional surroundings and the larger community of East Hampton luxury homes.

  • Frank Greenwald's modern two-story abode, a prime piece of Sag Harbor real estate that features a gently sloping hipped roof and big bay windows.

  • A sleek, curved house on Flying Point Road in Water Mill, between the Atlantic Ocean, Mecox Bay, and Channel Pond. It was completed in 2019, has fantastic views, and was designed for indoor-outdoor living.

How experienced Hampton real estate agents can help

If you are more traditional, you may want the classic houses with cedar shingles and gambrel roofs that will make it seem like your family got off the train in 1870 the minute it reached Main Street. If you prefer something more modern with swimming pools and balconies, you are spoilt for choice in the Hamptons. If you want a blend of traditional and contemporary homes, you can choose a cozy, classic exterior and a modern interior to suit your needs.
Whatever style of home you’re searching for in Southampton, the Matthew Breitenbach Team can help you find it. We have over 12 years of experience representing celebrity and luxury clients, and our team brings insider intel and behind-the-scenes knowledge to every Hamptons luxury real estate transaction.
The Breitenbach Advisory Team is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to put down roots in this charming coastal community. Whatever architectural style you're looking for, whether you're seeking Southampton, Bridgehampton or East Hampton homes for sale, we will help you find a property that matches your wish list.
Contact us today!

*Header photo courtesy of Houzz

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