Behind the Dunes in Davis Park/Ocean Ridge: The Tower House

Tower House Davis Park
The fabled and majestic “Tower House” of Davis Park.
Photo by Lisa Daglian.

A majestic beauty beckoning from the bay, beach, and ocean is the Tower House in Ocean Ridge, Davis Park. This welcoming landmark has greeted generations of visitors and serves as a homecoming beacon for its residents.

The tallest home in the easternmost community on Fire Island, the Tower House has 360-degree views and wonderful sea breezes. Known for its distinctive shape and multitude of colorful flags, it is a home that was born, built, and filled with love.

A legend behind the construction of the unique hexagonal lighthouse-shaped house. As told by the current owners, Hobby Miller – the community’s most prolific builder – was driving home from a visit to New England when he spied an abode in the shape of a lighthouse and knew he needed to duplicate it for his lady love in the community he was helping construct on Fire Island.

The Tower House, reposted in 1995 to FEMA standards, was originally built as a single elevated story with a full bathroom, and a sleeping loft in the tower. Original access to the tower/loft was via a rope ladder that could be drawn up when the occupant was sleeping. A second story was added below the original floor in the mid-1970s, with three bedrooms and two additional full bathrooms (there are also two outdoor showers).

Because of various construction projects and differing visions over the years, three distinct sections to the house evolved, each having its entrance door – with no access between the sections without going outside! The construction of internal stairs resolved that situation, now allowing smooth and easy flow throughout the house.

Over the four decades that Marty and Shelly Chinitz have owned the Tower House, they’ve stayed true to its spirit and distinctiveness while updating and replacing the 1960s and 1970s-era features to make it more modern and comfortable.

The entire interior is insulated, with light wood paneling throughout. There is a new hot-water heater and air conditioners and heating units built into the walls of every room. The electric circuitry has been fully upgraded, and it also has a wood stove that is still functional.

The main level boasts the original floors, in mint condition. Floors on the lower story were newly installed seven years ago except for the master bedroom, which still has its beautiful original oak floors. The eye-catching spiral staircase was constructed by Davis Park master-carpenter, Garrett Anger. The kitchen is modern, with all appliances new or recently replaced. The living area on the main level is open plan, with space for a separate dining area, and a kitchen with a long bar-height peninsula and stool seating.

The inside of the Tower House is beautiful, and very special – but when you step outside, you’re left breathless. The incomparable views of the ocean, bay, and to the east and west are stunning.

Marty tells of being the proverbial “fish are running” bellringer in the days before cellphones when the birds would start working, summoning fisherfolk to grab their poles post-haste due to his best-in-town vantage point.

Nowadays, the expansive south-facing deck is still great for being the first to know about the fishing prospects and hitting the beach from the private stairs, but it’s also perfect for sunbathing, whale watching, dolphin spotting, cocktailing, having a simple lunch with a few friends, a soiree with many, or relaxing away the week’s worries.

Marty and Shelly have spent an amazing 41 years in the Tower House but are motivated to spend time with their daughter Jessica, her husband Marc, and grandson Evan. They hope the love and wonderful times they have had in the home will carry forward to its next owners, who will love it back and make special memories of their own.

Breathtaking views await, making this property an oceanside paradise. Photo by Lisa Daglian.
The interior boasts charm and architectural interest.Photo by Lisa Daglian.
Then & Now: The Tower House in 1960 and today in 2024.Photo by Lisa Daglian.