He had no intention of buying a place on Fire Island. But this was no ordinary house.
Glenn Rice’s journey to owning a home on Fire Island, NY, began unexpectedly in Boston and was propelled, surprisingly, by his love of acting.
In September 2017, Mr. Rice, a real estate agent, traveled to Boston to see a friend perform at the opening night of the play “WARHOLCAPOTE”. At a dinner party afterwards, he befriends Rob Roth, the playwright who wrote the show.
“We just started talking and hit it off like gangbusters,” said Mr. Rice, 49. “So at the end of the evening he said, ‘You should go out and stay with me at Fire Island. I think you’ll like it.'”
The following summer, Mr. Rice accepted Mr. Roth’s offer and found that he was very fond of Mr. Roth’s getaway to the Pines. But as he strolled along the boardwalk, it was another house that caught his eye: a large pyramid-shaped building with cedar shingles on three sides and a triangular steel and glass wall on the bottom. fourth.
It was almost as if a large scale model of IM Pei’s Louvre pyramid had washed up on the beach.
Intrigued, Mr. Rice began asking around and learned that the house belonged to Jeff Mahshie, a fashion and costume designer. So when Mr. Rice’s friends encouraged him to ask for a visit, he barely hesitated before approaching.
Mr Mahshie answered and welcomed him inside – and Mr Rice couldn’t believe his eyes as he took in the sweeping views over the sand dunes to the ocean and bay.
“We walk in, and it’s just amazing,” Rice said.
The house was designed by Julio Kaufman, an Argentinian architect, in the early 1960s. Then in 2001, writer Paul Rudnick bought it and hired another architect, Hal Hayes, to update and decorate it. enlarge. It was Mr. Hayes who added the steel and glass wall and reconfigured the interior to make the upper level an open plan living and dining area with a kitchen and the lower level an expansive master suite. Outside, Mr. Hayes added a poolside guest house comprising three boxes connected to the pyramid roofs.
Mr Rice marveled at the compound, struck up a conversation with Mr Mahshie about the scripts he was snooping on tables and finally told him he was lucky to live in such a stunning home.
“And he said, ‘Actually, I’m thinking of selling,'” Mr. Rice recalled.
It turns out that Mr. Rice was in the process of selling his Harlem brownstone, which would provide him with the funds to buy the house. Back in Manhattan a few days later, “we met for lunch at TriBeCa and had a handshake deal,” Rice said, after accepting a $1.32 million award.
“I just fell in love with the house and thought everything, including the process by which I got it, was amazing,” he said.
After closing in December 2018, he needed to furnish the house, but he was also prepared for it: a design enthusiast, Mr Rice runs a side business called Surveillance, buying and selling vintage and mid-century modern furniture and accessories. For the living room, he brought a pair of teak and rattan sofas designed by Peter Hvidt and Orla Mølgaard-Nielsen in the late 1950s, as well as a pair of soft armchairs with lacquered wood frames and leather upholstery. 1970s blue suede. For the master suite, he installed a 1960s Westnofa Norwegian rosewood bedroom set and vintage French resin benches with multicolored geometric bases.
“Almost everything is roughly from the same period as the house,” Mr. Rice said. “It’s my aesthetic anyway, but it turned out that I chose things that suited me.”
He chose not to make major architectural changes, but the house needed major repairs and upgrades, from replacing rotting cedar planks on the exterior to adding heat tape around pipes that would otherwise freeze in winter.
“Being on Fire Island, between the ocean and the bay, is really tough on homes,” he said. “All the salt, the constant humidity, et cetera. So every year I do a big project. I did the electrical system and the plumbing system. This fall it will be the replacement of all the doors and windows .
In all, Mr. Rice estimated that he had spent around $400,000 to restore and maintain the house.
He also flipped the script on owning a summer home, spending most of the year on Fire Island and periodically returning to his apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. When he’s not living in the pyramid, he rents it out on Airbnb and Vrbo, where it can fetch over $3,000 a night in the summer. “It’s my primary residence,” he said, “but I rent the house in high season to help cover any ongoing costs.”
And if a few hot, sunny days are missing in July and August, that’s okay. “Looking out that window,” he said, “no matter what the weather is like – a storm, a snowstorm, a sunny day or passing clouds – is just fantastic.”
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