At Home in East Hampton
After 45 years and two generations of ownership, an East Hampton couple prepares to part with their family’s legacy estate.
Images: Amanda Kirkpatrick
For second-generation East Hampton resident Jessica Ambrose, the ability to host friends and family in her Egypt Lane home is a cherished tradition. Purchased by her parents in 1972 and passed down to Jessica and her husband Colin six years ago, the property—rendered stunning by a dramatic renovation upon their arrival—has since served as an idyllic setting.
But with three daughters grown and gone, Jessica and Colin have decided the time has come to trade their property and enjoy time traveling. As they prepare to part ways, they invited us over to tour the classic East Hampton estate and regale us with tales of their years spent within its walls.
How did you come to live in this home?
Jessica: My parents bought the house when I was 12 or 13, though we lived in Manhattan during the week and came out every weekend. Then after we were married, Colin and I had a home on Dunemere Lane so we were always over here. My kids would spend the day at the beach, and then they would ride their bike here to spend time with my mom and dad. This was always our family’s home.
Did you make any changes to the property after moving in?
Jessica: We wanted to channel that classic Hamptons aesthetic, to make it feel like it had been here forever. My parents loved this home for its proximity to the ocean and golf course. We also love the ability to walk and bike everywhere!
Throughout the renovation process, it was really important to us to support local businesses. Craig Lee from Sag Harbor did the architecture; Buddy Webb was our contractor and building company; the landscaping was done by Landscape Details; and the interiors are all by Tom Scheerer, whose younger sister happened to be my best friend growing up!
Any details that are really unique?
Jessica: Tom found an old East Hampton map in one of our drawers and used it to create the custom wallpaper in our guest bathroom. It’s a real conversation-starter!
And at the bottom of the stairway, there’s a really cool crystal finial. We didn’t do it intentionally, but it’s actually the only original feature left in the house, dating back to the family that lived here even before my parents.
So what does a typical summer day look like for you?
Jessica: Everybody grabs a cup of coffee, jumps in the golf cart, and rides down to the Wiborg Beach for a morning swim with our three dogs. Then the girls are off to their summer jobs, and Colin and I attend to work ourselves; as a director for India Hicks, much of my job can be done from home.
We’ll then generally meet back here for lunch; my kids are fanatical about harvesting seasonal fruits and vegetables from Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett. In the late afternoon, we‘ll play golf or tennis before heading back to the beach. It’s almost mandatory that everyone hangs out by the water between 4 and 7pm. It’s the best time of the day down there!
Then, since my husband is a chef—lucky for us!—we have no idea how many people are going to show up for dinner. We have an open-door policy, and there can be anywhere from five to 22 people around our table on any given night.
Sounds amazing! What’s it like once summer has ended and all of the tourists pack up?
Jessica: The winter is blissful. The sunsets from the upstairs balcony are beautiful — they change so much so from season to season. We have all the same friends show up, and our mud room transitions to snow shoes, cross country skis, and paddle tennis rackets.
And there’s a rotisserie in the kitchen fireplace. My husband puts a pork loin on there. You can’t believe what he produces out of that fireplace. So in the winter, there’s something even better about it.
Communities like this seem increasingly rare these days. Can we assume you plan to stay in the area?
Jessica: They really are, and we absolutely do! The children of my best friends growing up are now best friends with my kids, and their parents were all friends with my parents. There’s not a lot of places where you can go where there are three, even four generations that are still living in the same place.
That’s what’s so unique about East Hampton: everywhere you turn there are so many people who have been here forever. My husband was able to create a business, and our kids were raised here, and they’re going to raise their kids here. It’s a really cool tradition to have as a family.