It’s not only the $62 million list price that grabs your attention, but the fiery history of Dick Cavett’s enviable, Montauk estate at 165 Deforest Road is what truly makes the story of this celebrity home a page turner. And given the home’s history, it’s little wonder that Cavett recently told the Wall Street Journal that listing the home for sale is one of the hardest things he’s ever done.
Originally built in the 1880s by the renowned architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, the 7,000-square-foot home known as “Tick Hall” stood sentry on 20 acres on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean for decades. When Cavett and his former wife bought the place in 1968, it was in need of repair, but it became a beloved and stunningly situated place to escape and recharge during Cavett’s hectic career in New York City, where he hosted many TV shows.
However, in 1997, a fire wiped out the historic home — a tragedy that spurred Cavett and his now ex-wife, Carrie Nye, to rebuild it. Without house plans, the couple used photos and forensics to come as close as possible to the 1880s original structure. The entire undertaking has been memorialized in a documentary film called “From The Ashes: The Life and Times of Tick Hall.” (You can view a clip of that film here.)
Flash forward: Cavett has since remarried, and continued to love the Montauk treasure over the years. But at age 80, the writer and talk-show host told the WSJ it is time for a new chapter in life. The property includes 20 acres, which is what remains after Cavett sold 77 acres for $18 million to a conservancy group in 2008.
The home’s history has been nicely documented over the years in other venues, too. In 2001, Architectural Digest revisited Cavett in Montauk and detailed Tick Hall’s history:
Before the Fire began in the mid-1960s, when Cavett and Nye first rented, then purchased, Tick Hall, the last in a group of seven Shingle Style houses designed by McKim, Mead White and built between 1881 and 1883 as hunting and fishing cottages for a group of well-to-do New Yorkers. The cluster, at the eastern tip of Long Island, was known as the Montauk Point Association Houses, and Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned to plan the site. They had wide porches that embraced the sea, generous dormers, exquisite detailing, abundant light. Originally accompanied by a clubhouse, the houses were among the earliest designed by the firm, which White and his partners had just formed in 1879.
Architectural Digest also did a nice job with a slide show that demonstrates the painstaking effort Cavett and Nye took to recreate the home as near exact as they had originally kept it. Given the woodwork and detail and furnishings, that was no easy task. No wonder it inspired a documentary!
The listing is held by Tim Davis and Karen Kelley of Corcoran, whose listing notes describe how the property includes 900 feet of ocean frontage in the Montauk Moorlands, bordered by 190 acres of oceanfront parkland and an additional 2,200 feet of pristine coastline.
A private path winds to an oceanfront cove known, naturally, as, Cavett’s Cove, which also is accessible to miles of equestrian trails, a fresh water pond, swimming pool and a trail to the beach.