House Tour: Martha & Jeff's Period Piece

House Tour: Martha & Jeff's Period Piece

Jill Slater
Jul 22, 2009

Name: Jeff and Martha
Location: St. George, Staten Island, New York City
Size: 3,000 square feet — 8.5 bedrooms
Years lived in: 3.5 years


We all know people who enjoy renovating their home and who take particular pride in respecting the original detailing or who wish to pay homage to the history of their dwelling place. Martha and Jeff, one can say without a doubt, have taken this approach to a whole new level…



Martha and Jeff did not buy this century old house lightly. Their last home was much smaller and down the block, so their commitment to Staten Island is well established. This latest purchase took on the self-imposed responsibility of restoring it nail by nail to as much of its original appearance as possible. And while they are not wearing turn of the last century garb, they do dress of an entirely different era than the present (primarily evocative of the early 1950's).

Dedication, meticulousness, and unrelenting patience are mild adjectives when trying to explain the lengths Jeff has gone to do justice to the renowned architect Edward Sargent's work.

Ebay and flea markets are inevitably constants in this couple's lives. Because they have a big house with what seems like infinite space, there is no fear of having too many collectibles. So, they keep amassing history and arranging it under their one roof.

The only aberration I noticed, in the entire house, was the stainless steel refrigerator in the kitchen. Otherwise, it really is like walking through a museum… in awe of the work put into creating this home!


Martha and Jeff's Survey
Style: Late Victorian/Early Colonial Revival (built 1903).
Inspiration: Preservation of a prominent architect's work — Edward A. Sargent. Imagining what lives have lived here before us.
Favorite Element: The split staircase that takes you to different rooms on the second floor. Gives it a 'secret passage' feel.
Biggest Challenge: Undoing the disastrous 1980's kitchen renovation.
What Friends Say: Wow, I feel like I'm in a museum.
Biggest Embarrassment: Jeff can be found at 3am either on a ladder doing home renovations with the blinds open, or else in the yard gardening.
Proudest DIY: Kitchen and half-bathroom that feels completely original to the house even though we designed and built every square inch of it. Especially the tin ceiling — everyone thinks it's been there a hundred years!
Biggest Indulgence: Stripping and restoring all of the doors in the house.
Best Advice: It's a labor of love — the work will never be 'done'.
Dream Source: Ebay!

(Images: Jill Slater)

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