John Louise doesn’t like a house without a ghost in it.
Which is why the retired businessman found a new passion in restoring and designing homes around the East End. One of his most recent projects, the 18th Century Sag Harbor residence The Latham House is currently on the market with Sotheby’s International Reality for $4.5 million.
The Main Street residence is one of two historic Federal-style homes in the Village of Sag Harbor and was originally constructed around 1790. It features a commercial, ground-floor space, currently Calypso home furnishings, in addition to the four-bedroom, three-bath residence complete with three-car parking, a heated gunite pool, private gardens, as well as six fireplaces throughout the home.
According to Stephanie Lousie, daughter to John, who shares the exclusive at Sotheby’s with East Hampton broker Jan Conklin, The Latham House has been on the market for less than a year, following her father’s restoration.
Lousie has owned The Latham House since 2006.
“For years and years the style of the house attracted me,” Louise said on Monday, adding the central location of the home was another draw. While a homeowner in Bridgehampton as well, Louise has resided in The Latham House with his dog Masimo for the last two years.
According to Louise, the research conducted during the restoration of The Latham House revealed Peleg Latham, the original owner, was born around 1769 and was believed to be a merchant or a captain of a merchant schooner.
A fan of architecture, Louise said he also enjoys the unique style of the home, which was designed to be perfectly symmetrical in the tradition of Federal-style homes, although Louise noted the stairway entrance was altered during the Victorian period. Despite minor alternations, Louise said the residence retains much of its humble beginnings, down to its original timber.
However, aspects of the historic Peleg Latham House were in dire need of restoration, said Louise. In 2008, he commissioned the project, in hopes of restoring the building as much to its original state as possible, hiring Westhampton’s Cedar Cove Construction to tackle the project. Using a combination of research and on-site sleuthing, Louise said they discovered the home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was not unusual for a Sag Harbor merchant’s residence.
The restoration began, said Louise, after the homeowner discovered a leaky roof. Repairing the leaking roof led to a larger project, including the restoration of the chimney. Louise has an obvious adoration for restoration projects and becomes almost giddy when discussing the ventures. He eliminated modern portions of The Latham House that were added to the rear of the residence and to keep the historic integrity of the building not just on the exterior, where preservation laws demand little to no alterations be made, but also on the interior, although he admitted modern conveniences like flat screen televisions had made the cut.
“I have people ask me, how did I manage to put a big Wolf stove and a Subzero refrigerator in this house and have it still feel like the 1790s,” he laughed.
“It really is very handsome,” said Louise of the end result. “I could have put in steel and all of that, but I didn’t do that. Down to the vintage wall paper, I tried to keep the integrity of the house intact.”
Louise admits a passion for the work.
“I have restored seven houses and every time I do it I swear it is the last one and of course it is not,” he said.
While not unfamiliar to letting projects go, Louise admitted at times it is bittersweet and often he tries to wait for the right buyer before letting go of a property.
“I have done this and I love it,” he said. “I have loved all the houses people have bought from me, but I won’t just sell to anyone. It has to be someone who wants to keep the integrity of this house.”
The Latham House, located on Main Street, Sag Harbor is listed for sale with Sotheby’s International Realty. For more information, contact Stephanie Louise with Sotheby’s Bridgehampton office at 537-6000 or Jan Conklin with the firm’s East Hampton office at 324-6000.