Expertise comes threefold
Breskin Development has been building, designing, and transforming homes in the Hamptons since 2009. A trio of expertise — Max Breskin, Michelle Breskin, and Rob Walford — is all part of what makes the magic happen. In 2017, the team tackled a restorative project in Sag Harbor for the Morpurgo House, showcasing their talents in bridging the gap between the old and the new.
Why did you decide to restore the Morpurgo house in Sag Harbor? A restoration of that scale is daunting!
RW: We were aware of 6 Union and its condition problems. However, upon a more detailed examination, we determined that aside from the front porch and rear third of the house, the rest was actually sound. The owners at the time had gutted the house of its lath and plaster. This allowed us to do a detailed examination of the timber framing.
To our surprise, it was in excellent condition. So, coupled with gorgeous (and approved) plans in place, we decided to take the plunge.
What is the history of that home and what is its significance to Sag Harbor?
RW: The home is a very important component to the history of Sag Harbor. Like many homes in Sag Harbor, 6 Union Street evolved over time to accommodate the needs of the owner. The original part of the house dates from about 1760 and possibly was the first home of Captain John Hulbert, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and purportedly the designer of a very early prototype of the American Flag.
The house was expanded several times over the years until about 1870. That design, Italianate architecture, is what you see today. It became a boarding house around 1850 and apparently continued as such until the 1980s.
What are some interesting things you discovered about the house when you gutted it?
RW: Although we found no treasure (everyone asks!), we did find various things that were interesting. Hidden behind some base molding in one of the small bedrooms was a letter from a boarder to his sister. Although there is no date on it, we believe the letter was written in the latter part of the 19th Century.
The author of the letter is from an unmarried gentleman who works at a local farm as a laborer. The letter really illustrates what it must have been like living in a boarding house far from his family.
How true to the original design did you stay to when rebuilding it?
RW: The footprint of the house is what it was before we started restoration. The front and side window openings are where they were also. We restored or rebuilt all of the exterior corbels and trim. The porch column profiles were rebuilt exactly as they were. The porch ceiling detail was recreated as it was also.
We repurposed many of the hand-hewn beams throughout the house. We added a new foundation to the house but repurposed the original foundation boulders as a retaining wall that now surrounds the backyard.
What do you prefer, custom building or restoration?
RW: Those are two very different experiences for us. With a custom build, we start with a design but that design is never what we build exactly. Invariably the client will make changes based on their needs or based on something they see or read about. It is always exciting for us to help our clients maximize the potential of their custom home.
A restoration doesn’t offer that flexibility in general. However, it is very satisfying for us to know that our restorations could be around for another 200 or 300 years.
What projects are you currently working on?
Max Breskin: We’re currently working on a mix of custom and homes for sale. Union Street required a lion’s share of our attention but as we finally near completion we’ve shifted some of our time and focus toward our other projects.
The one Michelle and I are most excited about is the home we’re building in Water Mill for ourselves where I will live year-round, while Michelle and the kids will split their time between NYC and the East End.
Your team has been building luxury homes since 2009. Was it a husband/wife team from the beginning has Rob been a partner since then?
MB: We’ve known Rob since he gave me my first job out of college in 1998 working at his trading firm. After a short break to get my MBA in 2002 to 2004, I joined him again on his trading desk at the New York Mercantile Exchange trading natural gas futures. Developing luxury homes has been husband/wife since 2009, until Rob joined us full time in 2016.
His unique technical ability and sharp analytical skills have been an integral part of our growth and expansion to custom and historic. Although the team has grown, it still feels like a family — with all the dysfunction that comes along [with it].
Are you incorporating any trends that you’ve seen in any of the homes you’re currently building?
MB: Aside from “green” and “smart,” which have become industry standard, we are looking for ways to make our homes more functional for the homeowner. The process really begins at the siting stage, where we pay particular attention to maximizing the site and/or view of a particular property.
This could mean allocating space for a tennis/sports court while enhancing it with a viewing pavilion or pool house designed with an eye toward entertaining guests. Inside the home, we try to maximize utility and functionality by incorporating features such as a home gym, screening room, sauna, fully stocked bar, and when necessary, an elevator.
When you’re not building luxury homes, what do you do for fun?
MB: I’m sure it will sound like a cliché, but Michelle and I enjoy to travel. It’s easy to get consumed by the daily routine. Getting away for a few days helps to re-energize and refocus. With the demanding schedule of raising our three kids while managing a construction and development company, we’ve been taking shorter but more frequent trips rather than longer/extended holidays.
Though truth be told, whether fishing, sipping cocktails on a beach, or strolling a foreign city, we’re rarely disconnected from the business.
Let Breskin Development build or restore your next home! The office is located at 50 Station Road in Water Mill. Call 631-458-1001 or visit www.breskindevelopment.com.