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July 15-31, 2006


FEATURES

On the Waterfront
By Stephen Henderson
Photographs by Zubin Shroff

A CONTEMPORARY SOUTHAMPTON COTTAGE RISES OVER BIG FRESH POND

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Once the possibility of renovation arises, sometimes a "leave-well-enough-alone" instinct takes over. Could it be that what looks like solid construction is actually a rickety house of cards, and that removing even a two-by-four will make the whole thing crumble?

Jeff Pennington and Jamie Kleinbaum managed to overcome these seemingly irrational fears when they decided to renovate their Southampton cottage. They loved living on Big Fresh Pond, especially since their house is one of the few here that's built atop a bulkhead, allowing them to dive from their front porch directly into deep water. But the house, originally a convalescence cabana that was part of a World War II veterans' home, was small, dark and hadn't aged well.

"It was actually kind of a glorified shack," recalls Kleinbaum, a real estate developer and land-use attorney.

Pennington, a florist whose eponymous flower shop is in Southampton, agrees. "The place was old, and you couldn't stay there in wintertime. Even so, we thought we'd keep it basically the same, but with new materials."

This, alas, was not to be. An "overly zealous contractor" (Kleinbaum's diplomatic phrase) went at the initial demolition with such gusto that a retaining wall toppled, causing the rest of the house to implode.

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