What makes a house too big? And is it really anyone’s business other than the owner? We talk with Thomas Bena and Mollie Doyle, stars and creators of the new documentary One Big Home, based in Martha's Vineyard MA. Like many wealthy coastal communities, new homes there are not the cottages which have dominated the area for centuries. 10,000 sf and 20,000sf and even larger McMansions started appearing during the 1990’s. One Big Home is a documentary about Thomas Bena's work to curb the disruption of life on the island by giant houses. But the film is more than the story of a cause. Along the way, he found a girlfriend, Mollie Doyle, they married, moved, had a beautiful daughter named Emma - all events that influenced or changed his progress and perspective on the film and his life.
Fire Island, just 50 miles from New York City, was one of the few gathering places in the 1950’s where gay people could feel safe in a world that certainly did not offer such a welcome. It was also a haven for the creative class from New York and LA who built houses by Andrew Geller, Harry Bates, and the unbelievably attractive Horace Gifford. Our guest is Chris Rawlins, architect and author of critically-acclaimed Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction. Chris is an architect who lives in New York City and Fire Island and is founder of Pines Modern, a non-profit preservation initiative documenting the island’s architecture.
We also talk with the last living mid-century architect of Fire Island, Harry Bates, whose masterful Modernist coastal residences adorn both Fire Island and the Hamptons.