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How Great Craftsmanship Touches People Deeply, Forever – Part 1

During this past Labor Day weekend, my wife said that she had a DVD she wanted to share with me. She said it is about the rebuilding of an old house. On Saturday evening, we sat down and watched the 55-minute documentary. I was very touched, at many levels, by the movie. I will first give you a little background on this old house and then share my insights.

The Old Tick Hall

The Old Tick Hall

Tick Hall is part of a grouping of seven shingled cottages and a clubhouse, built in the 1880’s, in an area called Montauk, at the tip of Long Island, on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic ocean. The land was purchased in 1879, for $151,000, by a wealthy New Yorker named Arthur Benson. His idea was to build cottages for his friends. So he did. He retained the services of the famous landscape architect Olmsted, along with Stanford White as chief architect for the project and the best craftsmen he could find.

The houses were built in a shingled style, in an era when American architecture was just taking its first steps towards developing an identity of its own. Because the houses were built in a short time span, they are a “period” frozen in time. They represent an important step in the development of American architecture.

Rebuilt, Restored and Recreated Tick Hall

Rebuilt, Restored and Recreated Tick Hall

Dick Cavett and his wife Carrie Nye, after falling in love with Tick Hall, purchased the house in 1966. In March of 1997, the house burned to the ground! In spite of having no drawings, the Cavetts decided to rebuild Tick Hall, but not just to rebuild it: they set out to recreate Tick Hall, authentically, in a way that recreates the feeling of being there. What is it that can inspire people to spend millions of dollars to recreate the “feeling” of a house?

I believe that the answer lies in two words: great craftsmanship! Great craftsmanship would not exist without passion, intensity and love. These three elements, when combined, create an irresistible pull. When exposed to it, people may not realize what is going on, but they want to slow down, pause, sit down and relax. People can just be! They are deeply nurtured. In some blessed instances, when that environment is taken away, a hole is left in one’s life, that one wants to fill, at any cost. I believe that the Cavetts’ story with Tick Hall is the epitome of the impact great craftsmanship can have on one’s life. The recreation of Tick Hall worked because the team that rebuilt it matched the passion, intensity and love of the original builders. By watching the movie, you witness for yourself those elements in the folks involved on the project.

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