Busy men have dreamed of having a house somewhere "to get away from it all" ever since the Caesars started building their Mediterranean pleasure domes in Capri and elsewhere.
Following the pattern set by Hadrian, Tiberius and the rest, the Caesarean tradition has been carried forward ever since on a scale that has varied from the ridiculous to the sublime—from Louis XIV's mirrored fun house at Versailles to the musty hunting lodges of Teddy Roosevelt's day, complete with suspended moose head and woodburning stoves.
Nowadays, people who are neither monarchs nor presidents are daring to wish for and even acquire leisure homes of their own—and this magazine, through a department we call Design for Sport, has tried to assist them in their search. Over the years SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has offered its readers the opportunity to study everything from modest single-family leisure-time hideaways to giant recreational complexes.
Our expert in these matters, and the person behind this week's Design for Sport feature on Long Island seashore homes (page 42), is Pamela Knight, a transplanted Briton who has created at least three housing problems of her own (above). Pam, her husband Jim and the three little Knights live in a West Side Manhattan brownstone. Like many others of its kind, this structure was rescued in the nick of time from a crumbling demise. Now painted a fetching pea green, the Knight home is part of a once-dowdy nine-building complex purchased in 1964 by the Knights and a syndicate of similar-minded shelter seekers. The building, restored handsomely in an architectural style coming to be known as West Side Rehab, has received three important architectural awards in the last two years.
"It was a struggle," Pam says of their five-year bout with plumbers, carpenters and assorted tradesmen, "but we were very fortunate to have started before interest rates and building costs went absolutely out of sight. I think we just managed to escape the collapse of the New York housing scene. We feel a bit as though we had caught the last lifeboat off the Titanic."
People whose houses Pam has spied and featured in Design for Sport are often glad she did. The exposure has had an explosive effect on the demand for the featured homes. In 1966, for example, we did a story on a Northern California community called Sea Ranch. Today the land it occupies has doubled in value and the structures on it have inspired many similar recreational complexes throughout the country.
Readers who have houses they consider worthy of SI treatment should bear in mind Pamela's prerequisites: 1) The place must fulfill a leisure function and be designed with a recreational purpose in mind; 2) the people who live in it must be oriented toward enjoyment of their leisure.
No moose heads required.