“This is a Trachten Blumenstrauss, which I gave to my wife Christine on our honeymoon in the Austrian Alps,” says Denis Sheahan, pointing to an odd-looking bouquet adorned with aging plastic flowers, ribbons and doo-dads that hangs on the white brick fireplace in his dining room.
“While skiing on the first day of our honeymoon, Christine got off the cable car, skied all of 20 feet, fell and broke her leg. The rest of the week, I skied while she stayed in bed, writing thank-you notes. I felt bad and wanted to bring her flowers, but all I could find was this thing. The Austrians burn them on New Year’s, but the heck with that ... we’ve kept it for 42 years.”
Like any good Irishman, Denis Sheahan knows how to tell a story. And like any good journalist, he knows the importance of using good visuals to make his point.
Picking up a collage of fading photos that rests on the fireplace’s hearth, Mr. Sheahan points to more images from the Remsenburg couple’s memorable honeymoon.
“On the second week, we went to Paris. Since I had studied at the Sorbonne, I knew the city well ... I got a wheelchair and pushed Christine all around. Then,” he says, pausing for effect, “I developed a fever from the travel shot I had taken for the Asian flu. Christine ended up pushing me around in her wheelchair.”
The couple has no shortage of stories to tell about their professional and personal life together, and walls of paintings and photographs in their home illustrate their entertaining tales.
After moving to the Hamptons from Manhattan, the Sheahans launched Sheahan Publications in 1981 with the publication of House in the Hamptons, which is now House magazine.
“As a journalist from the city, I was used to covering city politics, murder, rape, crime and mayhem. But when we moved here, the only thing people talked about were houses and the real estate market, so I thought a magazine about upscale houses might sell,” says Mr. Sheahan, who began his newspaper career with the Hudson Dispatch in Jersey City and later worked as an editor and reporter for The Jersey Journal, The Newark Star Ledger, The World Telegram & Sun, The World Journal Tribune and spent 10 years as national retail editor for Fairchild Publications.
House, a glossy bimonthly magazine, now has a circulation of 30,000 and is sold at 700 newsstands in the tri-state area. With its operations based at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, the Sheahan Communications Corporation also publishes Builder & Remodeler, a regional trade publication, and Antiques of the Hamptons, an annual publication. Its Sheahan Television Productions division produces “House Television,” a half-hour television series highlighting upscale living on Long Island. The show airs several times a week on WNBC-DT, Channel 110.
Christine Sheahan founded her own publication, Networking, in 1991 and serves as its publisher and CEO. The magazine targets senior level executives and includes the fund-raising activities of not-for-profit agencies on Long Island. Networking magazine also launched the David Awards as a way to honor Long Island men and women who give back to the community.
The couple’s grown sons, Denis, Jr. and Andrew, also work in managerial positions for the Sheahan Communications Corporation.
Because the Sheahans’s demanding careers require long hours and many evenings spent eating rubber chicken dinners at various functions, the couple finds solace in their full-time home in Remsenburg, which they moved into on July 4, 1970. At the time, the couple was living in a $50-per-month rent-controlled apartment in midtown Manhattan (a story about how they finagled that appeared in New York magazine and is framed in their house).
“After we became parents, and our apartment got more crowded, we started looking for a summer house to buy. To pay for it, we saved my entire salary,” says Ms. Sheahan, who graduated from Marymount College and worked as a graphic artist for The New Yorker and the New York Telephone Company. She also was a freelance illustrator and graphic designer for such companies as Van Heusen and Mennen.
“In 1969, we bought an acre of land on a former farm field for $10,000 and spent another $22,000 to build a 1,500-square-foot Cape Cod with four bedrooms and two baths,” says Mr. Sheahan. “When I discovered it took three hours for this city boy to cut the grass every week, I put in a tennis court and pool.”
The Sheahans used the home as a weekend getaway until 1980, when they moved to the Hamptons full-time and gave up their apartment.
Eventually, they added another two bedrooms and a bath and expanded the size of the house to 2,900 square feet. The grounds are now lushly landscaped with a koi pond and more than 300 trees that the couple planted by hand.
These days, the couple likes to relax in their comfortably-furnished living room, which serves as a repository for their collection of 400 videos and DVDs of their favorite movies.