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Hamptons Life

May 10, 2018 11:21 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Southampton's Four Fountains Estate Put Back On The Market For $35 Million

Four Fountains COURTESY CORCORAN
May 10, 2018 12:07 PM

William S. Paley was not one to give up, and certainly that perseverance was a big reason why he was able to found the Columbia Broadcasting System in the late 1920s and during the ensuing decades preside over its international reach, especially that of its news division populated by the likes of Edward R. Murrow, Fred Friendly and Walter Cronkite. His frequent getaway was the 6.7-acre estate known as Four Fountains in Southampton. The present owners of this property, Bruce and Maria Bockmann, are displaying some dogged perseverance themselves by once again putting Four Fountains on the market at the same price as two years ago: $35 million, via Corcoran.

Some recent history first. The Bockmanns have owned Four Fountains for more than two decades. A 79-year-old Massachusetts native, Mr. Bockmann is a former managing director of Morgan Stanley. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine, spent five years as an officer in the U.S. Navy, then in 1967 he earned a master’s degree from Harvard University and joined Morgan Stanley. Among his extracurricular activities is being an active supporter of the American Ballet Theatre and the Australian Opera.

The first life of Four Fountains, to be found at 660 Halsey Neck Lane in Southampton, was as an arts center. The arts patrons Ethel and Lucien Tyng were living in a cottage across the street when, in 1928, they decided to construct a building that would be a combination theater and art gallery. The firm Peabody, Wilson & Brown was hired, and the mansion was built just in time for the Tyngs to move in after their cottage was destroyed by fire. Ethel Tyng died in February 1933. Seven months later, Lucien Tyng married the actress Olive Wyndham and continued to enjoy Four Fountains (and the rebuilt cottage known as the Swallows) until he sold the estate to Archibald Brown of the architectural firm that had designed it. The new owner had the estate converted into a purely residential one.

Mr. Paley purchased the property from the Brown family in the 1970s, when he was in his 70s and with his second wife, Barbara Cushing Paley, known as Babe. The son of a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine, Mr. Paley began CBS as an expanding network of radio stations from 16 in 1927 to 114 a decade later. His innovations were to develop original programming for the network and to sign up national advertisers. During World War II, CBS gained a great deal of credibility and popularity through Murrow’s dramatic radio reporting from London, and after the war CBS became the standard-bearer for radio and then television news.

For Mr. Paley and his wife, Four Fountains was a hub for summer entertaining and, returning to its original purpose, to house an extensive art collection. Babe Paley died in 1978. When William Paley died 12 years later, the estate was left to his four children. The present owners purchased Four Fountains from the heirs in the 1990s.

For the same $35 million asking price as when the Bockmanns first put it on the market in 2016, the next owner of the French-style Four Fountains will acquire a 9,000-square-foot, two-story house with 10 bedrooms, eight baths, a 40-foot-by-40-foot living room (with a 20-foot ceiling), a library, a pond view, garages, a greenhouse, and a pool and guest house. The ocean is a stone’s throw south, and Southampton Village and Cooper’s Beach are just to the east.

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