Bates Masi + Architects LLC, a full-service architectural firm with roots in New York City and the East End of Long Island for over 50 years, responds to each project with extensive research in related architectural fields, material, craft and environment for unique solutions as varied as the individuals or groups for whom they are designed. The focus is neither the size nor the type of project but the opportunity to enrich lives and enhance the environment. The attention to all elements of design has been a constant in the firm’s philosophy. Projects include urban and suburban residences, schools, offices, hotels, restaurants, retail and furniture in the United States, Central America and the Caribbean. The firm has received 170 design awards since 2003 and has been featured in national and international publications including The New York Times, New York Magazine, Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, Metropolitan Home, and Dwell. Residential Architect Magazine selected Bates Masi one of their 50 Architect’s We Love. In 2013, Bates Masi was inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame.

Paul Masi spent childhood summers in Montauk and currently resides in Amagansett. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from Catholic University and a Masters of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. He worked at Richard Meier & Partners before joining this firm in 1998.

Harry Bates, a resident of East Hampton, received a Bachelor of Architecture from North Carolina State University. After ten years with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, he was in private practice in New York City for 17 years before moving the firm to Southampton on the East End in 1980. Our offices have recently relocated to a new office building of our own design in East Hampton.

Sag Harbor Sanctuary

Sag Harbor Sanctuary

Lot size: .5 acres

Building size: 11,500 sq. ft.

Location: Sag Harbor, NY

Program: Single Family Residence


The 1836 Methodist Church of Sag Harbor is integral to the history, community, and character of the village. One of 14 local landmark structures, the building is a historical record of the prosperity of the 19th century whaling community, the craftsmanship of the shipwrights who helped construct it, the hurricanes that battered it, and the waxing and waning of the congregation that built it and tried steadfastly to maintain it despite the changing times.

For its own preservation and for that of the historic structure, the congregation moved to a lower maintenance space and put the building up for sale. An art dealer who appreciates the character of the church and how much it means to the community stepped in to preserve it by giving it new life as a residence. The challenge is to retain the significance of the landmark and its awe-inspiring qualities while adapting it to a new use. The strategy is to pare down the sacred trappings and peel back the layers of repairs, letting the structure’s scale, materials, and craftsmanship tell the story of the place.

The private spaces required of a residence are arranged at the periphery, on the lower level and balcony level. This leaves the sanctuary space open for the public areas of the house, its scale evidencing the prosperity of the 19th century congregation that built it. The enormous height of the building from lower level to roof peak is revealed by removing the acoustical drop ceiling to expose the roof trusses and opening a slot in the floor to connect it to the lower level. Floors within the bell tower are also removed to create an awe-inspiring 45’ tall vertical gallery with a circular stair rising through it to the belfry looking over the historic district.

A skylight running the length of the roof ridge illuminates the newly exposed roof trusses, highlighting their hand-hewn timbers. They bear the marks of the shipwrights who built them, and of history. In a 1938 hurricane, the steeple collapsed and the massive bell fell through the roof, breaking one of the trusses. Unable to pay to repair it at the tail end of the Great Depression, the congregation built up supports from the balcony below and closed off the balcony permanently to conceal it. New steel gussets are sistered to the truss to repair the structural damage but the broken members remain visible, bearing witness to the story. Throughout the project new features required by the change in use have their own vocabulary that compliment rather than replicate the existing structure, out of respect for its history. For instance, a new interior stair is comprised of bronze tubes, a reference to the original 1902 pipe organ that was moved to the congregation’s new church.

On the lower level the 1970’s wall paneling is removed to expose the original stone foundation, highlighting the effort of importing massive stones to a sandy area and placing them by hand. Layers of recent asphalt roofing, aluminum siding, and paint are removed and the original materials replaced in kind with the same local materials as the original.

By respectfully adapting the structure to a new use, a building on the verge of disrepair is given new life, allowing it to continue to contribute to the character of the community and remind us of its history.