Snag This Fire Island Beach House by Modernist Architect Horace Gifford for $3.75M

Built in 1967, the cedar-and-glass residence features dramatic, barrel-vaulted ceilings that extend to an oceanfront deck.
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Beginning in the 1960s, architect Horace Gifford led a modernist transformation of New York’s Fire Island, designing 63 homes across the area—including the 1967 residence at 46 Schooner Walk.

Designed by architect Horace Gifford in 1967, the five-bedroom beach house at 46 Schooner Walk sits on a coveted beachfront lot in the village of Ocean Beach on New York’s Fire Island.

Located at the end of a residential lane in the Summer Club community of Fire Island’s Ocean Beach, the five-bedroom home offers an unobstructed beachfront view—sand even comes up to the edges of its timber slatted deck. The elegant, modernist design bears the hallmarks of Gifford’s approach, with an exterior and interior clad in natural cedar, floor-to-ceiling arched windows that peer out onto the beach, and a few sculptural curves thrown into the building’s otherwise rectilinear geometry.

During his career, Gifford designed 63 homes across Fire Island characterized by their use of glass and cedar.

A waist-high gate marked by a pair of curvy, wood storage units signals the entrance to the beachfront residence on one side of the structure. Situated perpendicular to the gently sloping staircase, the front door opens to the main living area where a long wall of sliding glass doors with curved clerestory windows sits below a dramatic, barrel-vaulted ceiling. Gifford designed the four barrel vaults to extend to the outdoor area, forming a cedar canopy that partially shades the wraparound deck. The open kitchen also offers impressive views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. 

The front door is situated perpendicular to a gently sloping staircase at the entrance.

A barrel-vaulted ceiling in the primary living area creates a series of curved clerestory windows above the wall of sliding glass doors.

The living and dining areas form one large space that connects to the deck via sliding glass doors.

The open kitchen retains a cozier feel with a low, flat ceiling that makes the living/dining room feel all the more spacious.

Granite countertops complement wooden cabinetry and a mirrored backsplash in the kitchen.

The barrel-vaulted ceiling extends to the home’s exterior, creating four arched, cedar canopies that partially shade the wraparound deck.

The principal bedroom is situated just beyond the main living area and is also lined with a wall of glass overlooking the beach. On the other side of the home, four additional bedrooms connect to a landscaped yard with a boardwalk that leads to an outdoor seating area and, beyond that, a fence-enclosed outdoor shower and dressing area.

The principal bedroom enjoys the same floor-to-ceiling glass and clerestory windows as the common spaces.

On the other side of the home, a landscaped yard offers an additional outdoor seating area. 

The yard includes an outdoor shower with an enclosed dressing room.

Born and raised in coastal Florida, Gifford made his way to New York to work at a Manhattan firm after earning an architecture degree from the University of Florida. He eventually pursued a master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania under celebrated modernist architect Louis Kahn, but returned to work at the same New York firm one semester short of graduation. 

A photo of architect Horace Gifford from the early 1960s

In the 2013 book, Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction, architect-author Christopher Rawlins writes: "As the 1960s became The Sixties, architect Horace Gifford executed a remarkable series of beach houses that transformed the terrain and culture of New York’s Fire Island." In 1992, Gifford passed away of complications from AIDS at the age of 59. But today, Gifford’s modernist designs remain as warm and inviting as they are timeless.

46 Schooner Walk in Ocean Beach on Fire Island, New York, is currently listed for $3,750,000 by Jamie Winkler of Winkler Real Estate Inc.

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