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Hamptons Life

Apr 15, 2010 12:52 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

It's a museum, a real screa-um: The Addams Family house

Apr 15, 2010 12:52 PM

The Addams family house in Sagaponack might be slightly eccentric and jam-packed with unusual collectibles. But creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky, not so much. Well, maybe a little.

The residence, once home to Charles Addams—the famous illustrator, cartoonist and Addams Family creator—and his wife, Marilyn “Tee” Addams, nee Matthews, now houses the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation, founded by Ms. Addams in 1999. And due to a just-opened production of “The Addams Family: A New Musical” on Broadway featuring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, there is sure to be renewed interest in the home of the real-life Mr. and Ms. Addams.

Fortunately for curious East Enders, the Cedar Point Lane property will be open for tours from Thursday, April 15, through June 15 and again from September 15 through November 15.

One might expect the Sagaponack house that the couple moved into in 1985 and referred to as “The Swamp” to be a dark and dreary Victorian. But instead, the rambling, cedar shingle, ranch-style bungalow is full of light and set on 4.5 acres in the Sagaponack woods.

Despite the acclaim for his black humor and macabre creations—including the best-known Addams Family consisting of Gomez, Morticia, Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandmama, Lurch and Thing—Mr. Addams was a fairly regular guy who loved animals, restoring old cars and collecting weaponry and antique armor. He and his wife, who were friends for approximately 40 years before they wed eight years before his death in 1988, were actively involved in East End life. The pair were conservationists and she was a prominent supporter of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons up until her death in 2002.

But there are some unusual things at the house, namely Ms. Addams’s impressive collection of stuffed and mounted wildlife. Though dedicated to saving animals, incongruously, she (a model in her youth who then became a photographer of wild game) was an avid collector of taxidermied creatures. There is also the pet cemetery in the front yard—the final resting place of beloved pets Poppy, Willie, Liletee and Nudawg—the unlikely location where the couple held their wedding ceremony in 1980 and where it is rumored that Mr. Addams’s cremated remains are buried.

The house today is furnished to closely replicate how it was when the couple lived there, according to Tee and Charles Addams Foundation Executive Director and family friend Kevin Miserocchi. He is also the author of “Charles Addams: The Addams Family: an Evilution.” Mr. Miserocchi and his co-trustee, Robert Klosowicz, who was also a close friend to the couple, now live at the house and tend to its care.

The rustic home is filled with Mr. Addams’s creations, Victoriana, objects given by friends and fans, the many stuffed and mounted animals, and photographs of animals in the wild.

Perhaps the room that will most entrance visitors is Mr. Addams’s personal study and office. Some of the many collectibles in that room include: an antique drafting table where Mr. Addams drew; a stuffed mongoose in battle with a cobra given to him as a gift; stuffed birds encased in a glass globe; and delicately painted Addams Family-themed eggs from 1966. Right off the study is the cedar archival closet, which holds originals of Mr. Addams’s famous works.

Another area of interest is the room most favored by the mistress of the house. Her favorite room was referred to as “the bird room,” according to Mr. Miserocchi, who added that the panoramic views offered in the room gave Ms. Addams great joy. “It was all about the birds,” he said. “She did everything in that room.”

That space, which offers a commanding view of the woods surrounding the property, also includes: a photograph of a cheetah taken by Ms. Addams in Africa, ostrich and emu eggs, papier mâché-inspired heads of members of the Addams Family created out of linen and made for performers of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1965 (the same heads are being featured in television commercials for the current Broadway production) and needlepoints of the famous illustrated Addamses, made by Sloan Simpson, an ex-girlfriend of Mr. Addams, dated 1965.

For those who enjoy being titillated, there is also a naughty nude needlepoint version of Wednesday Addams wearing pale green stockings and fashionable ankle boots hanging in the downstairs bathroom.

Though there is plenty to see at the house, much of Mr. Addams’s artwork and significant pieces are now on display at the Museum of the City of New York through May 16. There are more than 80 drawings, cartoons, sketches and watercolors on exhibit there, as well as examples of the artist’s personal ephemera.

But the personalities of Mr. and Ms. Addams still shine through in the house, whether from the many collections, memorabilia still on display, or the spiderweb-inspired artwork on a window in the “bird room.” And that’s just the way Mr. Miserocchi and Mr. Klosowicz say they like it.

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Unless I have lost my mind, (I was a guest at their wedding), Tee and Charlie were married at their Cobb Road house in Water Mill, And yes, the pet cemetery there was part of the wedding scene.
By demivoix (2), East Hampton on Apr 16, 10 7:19 PM
Tee was so sweet.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Apr 18, 10 3:12 PM
Southampton Animal Shelter, Unconditional Love, Adoption