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Hamptons Life

Aug 2, 2019 4:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Of State Selling Historic Sag Harbor Home

23 Suffolk Street, Sag Harbor. LENA YAREMENKO/COURTESY COMPASS
Aug 4, 2019 2:48 PM

The Sag Harbor home that once belonged to playwright Lanford Wilson — and now belongs to a former member of the U.K. Parliament, Shaun Woodward—is on the market for $9 million.

Mr. Woodward, who served at the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2007 to 2010, purchased the 1840s Egyptian revival house at 23 Suffolk Street in 2012, the year after Mr. Wilson died.

Speaking from the United Kingdom, Mr. Woodward said in a phone call on Wednesday that he began coming to the Hamptons when he discovered that it was a wonderful place to spend time in between working visits to New York. He bought an East Hampton estate and became a board member of the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Mr. Woodward sold in East Hampton shortly before discovering the Lanford Wilson house. “I fell in love with it in a minute and made the decision then and there to buy it,” he said. He also was pleased to learn that it was the Pulitzer-winning playwright’s home. But he realized it needed work.

He set about restoring it, working with one of his best friends, designer David Kleinberg, and architect Martin Sosa of the Manhattan firm Arcologica. Everything was renewed, with enormous attention to detail, down to the window and door frames and the baseboard and crown moldings, Mr. Woodward said.

“It’s been a great house for 150 years, but it now needed a makeover for its next 150 years, and that’s what we did,” he said.

In the autumn of 2015, he was finally able to move in.

The house previously had no foundation. Now, it has a “lower grand floor” with 10-foot ceilings, a gym and a family room, Mr. Woodward said.

The new eat-in kitchen looks out to the gardens and pool. “Lanford Wilson had the presence of mind to buy a lot on Concord Street and double the size” of the property, he said. That enabled Mr. Woodward to add a 50-foot gunite pool to the 0.38-acre parcel.

New fireplaces, especially designed for the house, were brought over from England.

Mr. Woodward’s favorite room is the library. “We have several thousand books,” he noted. “It’s a room which works all year-round. It’s a fantastic room in the winter if you light the fire.” It’s where he liked to curl up on the sofa and watch Don Lemon on the television in the evening, he added.

The now four-level house is 6,200 square feet, with five bedrooms, four full bathrooms and two half-baths.

“It’s a wonderful home to live your life in and to share with your family and friends,” Mr. Woodward said. “And it’s a house which I think leaves you with a wonderful sense of joy.”

He and his partner, Luke Redgrave, had been spending three months a year there and considered making America their permanent home. However, Mr. Woodward said they decided a few weeks back to make their main house in England, to be closer to their children, as his oldest daughter, food writer Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella, just had her first child.

Also, Mr. Redgrave, a camera operator for such films as “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Les Misérables” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” has a career in the United Kingdom. “His work is very much in England,” Mr. Woodward said.

He said it’s been a huge privilege to live in the Sag Harbor house and he knows whoever buys it next will have the same experience they did.

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