Real Estate: For North Fork man, small living space is his canvas

07/27/2011 2:53 AM |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Richard Keogh in his Main Street, Greenport apartment.

Picture the North Fork and, as likely as not, you’ll think about neat-as-a-pin clapboard houses with huge porches, much like the spacious Italianate Victorian in Orient that used to be Dick Keogh’s family home.

That is, until a couple of years ago when he up and moved into a very unusual apartment above Bruce’s Cheese Emporium in Greenport.

“My parents had passed on, my sister is in a nursing home and an 11-room house was just too big for me,” said Mr. Keogh.

Not that Mr. Keogh’s apartment could exactly be described as small, with its 30-foot by 30-foot open concept living/dining/kitchen area.

“I have a separate bedroom and an all-glass shower in the bathroom,” said Mr. Keogh. “The kitchen is all granite. The landlord completely renovated and gave me a blank canvas.”

It’s a blank canvas, though, with original honey pine wood floors, a lot of original woodwork and moldings and huge windows letting in so much western light that bamboo blinds are required.

Luckily for Mr. Keogh, the remodeling sensitively preserved those Victorian features despite the replacement of all the walls, which were in fairly bad shape after a stream of different tenants over the years.

“The building dates from 1850 and I believe was originally constructed for the United Order of Mechanics, who were closely related to the Masons,” he said. “Then this space was used as living quarters.”

Before Bruce’s Cheese Emporium, the building was home to Corwin’s Ice Cream Parlor.

“Part of the original ice cream [parlor] fittings were moved up here to my living space when Corwin’s ceased to be,” said Mr. Keogh, indicating the genuine piece of Corwin nostalgia sitting in his living room. “There’s an upright piano, too, which was here when I moved in. Not sure how easy it would be to move it out.”

When it came to decorating what was already an eclectic space with solid Victorian bones, Mr. Keogh let his imagination take care of the design.

“This is not a wealthy man’s apartment by any means,“ he said. “I simply mixed what was here with some of the precious items I’ve held onto for years.

“I have quite an unusual collection of things,” he added. “For instance, it just seemed right to use the trunk that used to be strapped to the back of my family’s ancient Chrysler as a coffee table.”

Mr. Keogh held a mammoth tag sale when he left Orient, but he kept some furnishings that meant a lot to him, like the old benches and tables and prints and paintings by local artists.

“I have some print reproductions I’m very fond of. I do have a William Steeple Davis and a Caroline Bell,” he said.

Mr. Keogh thinks his home is quite different from anything else in Greenport and says he loves being close to the action at the corner of Front and Main streets.

“I can sit at the window and watch the world go by,” he beamed. “I don’t need a car, but I do have a designated parking spot. And who else has part of an ice cream parlor in their living room?”

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