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Hamptons Life

Oct 31, 2016 9:59 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Big Plans Brew For A Barn At Madoo

The barn at Madoo is in for a major renovation. COURTESY ALEJANDRO SARALEGUI
Oct 31, 2016 10:19 AM

The first time the artist and gardener Robert Dash visited a particular 2-acre plot of land in Sagaponack, he saw a cow—and endless potential.He was standing in a circa-1740 barn, which would become his painting studio in the rambling garden he called Madoo, now a horticultural treasure, conservancy—and future home to a residency for gardeners and artists alike, following in the tradition and footsteps of the late Mr. Dash himself.

But before the residency program can begin, the original barn, and the summer home attached to it, will need a major face-lift.

With approvals from the Town of Southampton Landmarks & Historic Districts Board and Village of Sagaponack Architectural and Historic Review Board in place, the $1.1 million restoration was slated to begin this week, according to Bridgehampton architect Kathrine McCoy. They will start with the barn’s foundation, or lack thereof.

“The barn itself, which is the studio, does not have a foundation and it is, we suspect, on locust posts. We won’t really know the full extent of how much damage there is to the floor joists of the structure until we lift the building,” she explained during a recent telephone interview. “But it’s likely that they’re in pretty poor condition, because they’re likely in contact with the ground.”

Once the building is braced and stabilized, it will be lifted. The ground underneath is scheduled to be excavated next week for the foundation’s footings, walls and new floor joists. After four to six weeks, the barn will be put back down on its new foundation before phase two begins.

“On the studio itself, there are currently big tarps on the roof because the shingles are paper-thin in places and it leaks like a sieve, and the sidewall shingles need replacing,” Ms. McCoy said. “It’s a drafty building at all times.”

Once the 30-by-50-foot barn is rewired and the furnace is replaced, work will begin on the façade, Ms. McCoy said. This will include fresh shingle siding, exterior trim and new windows and doors.

“The intent is for the building to appear as it always has once the shingle siding is weathered,” she said of the future studio, which will be used by artist-residents who stay in the summer house. “There’s not much, in terms of exterior materials, that can be salvaged. It will be new and improved, but it will be exactly as it was. And it will be weather-tight, stable and strong, and hopefully there for another 100 years or more.”

Attached to the 25-foot-tall barn are two 19th-century sheds that were connected to each other in the 1980s, and that make up the summer residence. Their interiors will remain the same, Ms. McCoy said, but new windows, siding and roofing will be installed.

“It’s not going to be different, it’s just going to be freshened up. The barn is in much poorer condition than the summer house—in need of a lot more TLC. The barn is desperate, the summer house is to complete the whole building,” she said. “We are hoping to be ready to open for the summer season next year, so May 2017.”

It is unclear whether the residency will be under way by then, according to Madoo Conservancy Director Alejandro Saralegui, as it is still in its infancy.

“With two residences on the property, it would be a shame not to use them to their fullest,” he said in a recent email. “We are thinking that the shoulder seasons would be the most logical times to run the proposed residency program. We’re still trying to figure out the parameters of who we would like to invite to stay at Madoo for one- or two-month-long residencies.

“Additionally, we are considering a season-long residency for trained gardeners at Madoo,” he continued. “With increased visitor-ship from programming, tours and open days, we have a greater need for gardeners on a daily basis. Creating a garden residency at Madoo would be a wonderful opportunity for a young gardener—and the garden would benefit.”

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