Chip Chop, Diane Sawyer's House, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts


In real estate, temporary staging is often used to make a house feel more like a home. In the case of Chip Chop, a legendary Vineyard Haven house, staging is part and parcel of the home.

That's because little has changed since the house was built for Broadway actress Katherine Cornell in 1937. The open books and the glasses on the tables, the fruit arrayed on a cutting board in the kitchen, all just seem part of the endless summers of entertaining at Chip Chop.

The 1890 atlas and the 1945 aerial view layered with today's maps also show how little has changed:

{source/Mr. If It Were Mine}

Chip Chop sits on 18 acres along a "tiny peninsula trying to be an isthmus and falling short by several hundred feet, a spit of land with water on three sides and a primitive road down the middle." {source}

It was named Chip Chop after the East and West Chop peninsulas that surround the entrances (or "chops") to the harbor. West Chop is at the far left of the picture above.

It was designed by architect Eric Gugler who also consulted on a redesign of the White House's West Wing for Franklin Roosevelt. 

At first it was just a small, shingled house with a living room, kitchen, bedroom, maid's room and two bathrooms.

Then it got its great room..."a famous giant room, the picnic room, the ping-pong room, so large (40x75feet) that it holds a grand piano, two Gothic fireplaces, a ping-pong table and a Bavarian tile stove."{source}

Its redwood beams were brought in from California, and wooden zodiac sculptures (Aquarius for Katherine and Leo for her husband Guthrie McClintic) were commissioned to go over the fireplaces on either side of the room.

{1984 World of Interiors, source}

The great room connects to the original main house via a dining porch.

If it were my dining porch and needed staged with fruit instead of an open book, I'd call architect Patrick Ahearn's office.

After all, Patrick owns his own summer retreat, Flip Flop, just an hour away from Chip Chop. 

The original living room still looks pretty original:

Like the great room, the kitchen was a later addition:

So are the telephones (and TV) in the master bedroom...

but the books and glass of lemonade in the second bedroom look like they've always belonged there.

"By the second summer there were two adjoining guest cottages, with white stone chimneys, connected by a flagstone terrace and covered passageways."{source}

{1984 World of Interiorssource}

They're known as the Pond Pavilion and the Ocean Pavilion.

Diane Sawyer and her husband, director Mike Nichols, bought Chip Chop in 1995. Years before it was first sold in 1968, Nichols had met Katherine Cornell and was enchanted by the property. In 2007 they added two larger guest houses, further down the beach from the main house.

The new additions seem just as timeless as the original house.

{1984 World of Interiorssource}

So, if Chip Chop has always been the quintessential summer house retreat, where did Katherine Cornell and Guthrie McClintic live in the winter? Near Turtle Bay Gardens in Manhattan, of course. Nearly every one of my recent posts has some connection to there! 

They're posing with the books -- there's probably a table with a pitcher of lemonade on it just out of view.

The listing is here.

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