for-fixer-uppers beckon with primordial force:
an abandoned house, a low price tag, the promise of getting
something great for nothing much.
43, and Gregory White Smith, 44, felt that seductive gravitational pull
in 1989 while sitting in a sunless, back-of-the-building two-bedroom
apartment in the El Dorado on Central Park West.
On a break from writing the final chapters of a biography of
Jackson Pollock that would win them a Pulitzer Prize in 1991, they held
a real estate brochure in their hands offering a white elephant par
excellence: Joye Cottage in
Aiken, S.C., reputedly the biggest house in the state, located 17 miles
northeast of Augusta, Ga.
behemoth long owned by New York’s millionaire Whitney clan and partly
designed by Carrere & Hastings, the architects of the New York
Public Library on Fifth Avenue, it was glamorous, historically
significant-and too good to be true.