Grey Gardens | The Beautiful Decay

When I saw these images in the New York Times my mind immediately drew parallels to Dickens’s Great Expectations– from the once-grand mansion in decay to the fascinating & eccentric characters Miss Havisham and Estella– it’s all so eerie in a beautiful, maddening sort of way–

A 1975 documentary captured the eccentric lives of Edith Bouvier Beale, known as Big Edie, and her daughter, Little Edie, in Grey Gardens, the filthy, dilapidated mansion they occupied in East Hampton. 

After Big Edie died in 1979, Little Edie sold the house to Sally Quinn and Benjamin C. Bradlee, who undertook a massive renovation. These photographs, which have never been seen by the public before, were taken by a photographer hired by Ms. Quinn at the time she and her husband purchased the house, in order to capture the extent of the decay.

Thirty-four years after a documentary film introduced the world to Grey Gardens and its eccentric occupants, a new movie on HBO is again casting light on the legend of this East Hampton property. In 1979, when this photo was taken, Sally Quinn, the writer and Washington hostess, and her husband Benjamin Bradlee, former editor of The Washington Post, purchased the property, which had fallen into complete disarray, and set out to restore it to its earlier splendor.

Thirty-four years after a documentary film introduced the world to Grey Gardens and its eccentric occupants, a new movie on HBO is again casting light on the legend of this East Hampton property. In 1979, when this photo was taken, Sally Quinn, the writer and Washington hostess, and her husband Benjamin Bradlee, former editor of The Washington Post, purchased the property, which had fallen into complete disarray, and set out to restore it to its earlier splendor.

 

Ms. Quinn says that when she pressed a key on this piano in the living room, the whole thing collapsed and fell through the floor.

Ms. Quinn says that when she pressed a key on this piano in the living room, the whole thing collapsed and fell through the floor.

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