Throwback Thursday – Tick Hall

Tick Hall in the 1920’s | Montauk Library Archives
Tick Hall circa 1990, photo by John Keeshan | Montauk Library Archives

Harrison Tweed and six other sportsmen were delighted to be able to purchase Brightmoor, Andrew Orr’s old “cottage” in the Montauk Association, in March of 1924. Tweed and his friends paid a little more than $2,000 each for the house, which sat on 19-plus acres with 700 feet of oceanfront perfect for surfcasting for striped bass.

Like the six other homes in the Montauk Association, Brightmoor was designed by McKim, Mead and White and situated by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect known for his work on Central Park. Arthur Benson, who at the time owned most of Montauk, had established the Montauk Association in the 1880s as a private retreat for people like himself and Andrew Orr, a merchant and financier who also enjoyed fishing and other outdoor pursuits.

Inspired by the creatures she picked off dogs and clothing, Harrison Tweed’s first wife, Eleanor, gave the former Orr cottage, Brightmoor, a new name: “Tick Hall.” Members of all the owners’ families came to be known as the Ticks (in the case of the men), Tickesses (the women), and Tickettes (the children), and their adventures were faithfully logged in a journal along with the names of guests, daily weather conditions, and the weight, date, time, place, and species of each fish landed by each and every family member. The journal begins with the inscription “A dry line catches no fish.”

Tick Tweed’s family continued to own the house, although they were using it less, until the late 1960s. Dick Cavett and Carrie Nye were in their 30s and recently married when they first rented and then – to their own disbelief – managed to purchase Tick Hall, the easternmost of the so-called “Seven Sisters” in the Montauk Association.

“It was like entering the witness protection program,” Dick Cavett said about his first visit to the remote moorlands of Montauk. He described Tick Hall as “majestic but not imposing” and noted that the panoramic appearances of light, ocean and blufftop views, sunrises and sunsets had been planned in such a way “to make you gasp.”

“I’d found where I lived, not just where I’d hang my hat,” Carrie Nye recalled in a documentary about Tick Hall. “Some people find the right places and are blessed.”

In March of 1997, however, Tick Hall burned down to the ground. The owners, who had been in New York City, were devastated. “It was like losing the moon,” Carrie Nye said. “I couldn’t conceive of a world without that house. I didn’t actually have to live in it. It just had to be there.”

At her insistence they had Tick Hall meticulously reconstructed, bit by bit. The architects had no original plans to guide them, so they relied on what information they could discover within the burnt ruins as well as, to some degree, clues from informal snapshots taken by the homeowners and others.

“We weren’t sure of the height of the upstairs windows,” Nye said in an interview with Architectural Digest, “but we had a picture of our two little shih tzus on their hind legs looking out the windows, so we measured the dogs.”

Carrie Nye was able to spend only a short time in the house before her death in 2006. In 2017, Dick Cavett, who by now had married Martha Rogers, put Tick Hall on the market. It sold for $23.6 million in 2021.

“It was a remarkable piece of architecture, and living in it was like living with a great painting,” Carrie Nye had said. “It improved you.”

#TickHall #MontaukHistory #DickCavett #CarrieNye #MontaukAssociation #SevenSisters #TBT #ThrowbackThursday


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