Tracey Jackson

Aug 11 2011 | Comments


Because of the legendary Maysles documentary and the multi -award winning 2009 HBO film of the same name Grey Gardens conjures up images of dilapidation and filth of mythic proportions.

The names Big Edie and Little Edie automatically stand for dysfunctional relationships and lives as chaotic as the house they lived in.

But what is Grey Gardens like today? Not many really know and I think most people hold on to picture of the mangy cat and rotten food filled, falling down wreck of an estate.

But the truth is for over thirty years the house has been owned and lived in by writer Sally Quinn and Washington Post ‘s uber editor Ben Bradlee, their son Quinn and now Quinn’s gorgeous wife Perry.

Sally took on the task of restoring Grey Gardens close to 35 years ago; and a monumental task it was. She bought it at its most decrepit and has restored it to its original beauty, actually my guess is it’s better.

She went so far as to drag furniture from the attic and have them refurbished to their original condition. She researched fabrics and wallpapers so everything would be authentic. She didn’t just Ralph Laurenize the place.

It’s a very pretty house albeit not an enormous one as people might think and it sits on a spectacular lot in a special part of the world. And it was not called Grey Garden’s for nothing.

The images we all have of the gardens are of weeds and sticks and rotting trees. This is also no longer the case.

The other evening Glenn and I had dinner with the Bradlee’s. We got there early; Glenn has this thing about when people say seven we walk in the door at seven. I always say, seven means seven-thirty. The only other time we had been there it had been very dark so Ben said, “ Take a walk around the gardens.” We did and they are anything but gray.

Grey Gardens in the 70's.

Grey Gardens Today

Grey Garden in summer bloom.




  • Susan

    Just lovely…thanks for sharing. And I’m with you, 7 is 730.

  • nicole

    WOW- am SO happy that they brought the place back to life as it was! Lucky you for getting to see it!

    Thanks for the great update!

  • Thank you for sharing this. It was fun to see. The gardens are just gorgeous. Sally and Ben have done an amazing job restoring the property and making it beautiful again.

  • Love this! Gorgeous gardens! I especially love that little house and the blue gate!


  • gorgeous. how lucky u are to have seen it in person.

  • Annie O’Donnell Dillon

    I love the covered entry! Thank you for the peek! Like most people I had seen the film & had the old picture in my mind. I love knowing that was then, & for 35 years, this has been happening there. (I have really been enjoying your blog and am so happy that my neighbor, Anna Avellar, turned me on to you.)

  • tracey

    Thank you Annie and welcome to the blog. Glad Anna turned you on to us. Say hi to her and hi to you!

  • tracey

    Thought this would appeal to you!

  • I had the privilege of being at GREY GARDENS in 1978. I met and broke bread and photographed Edie. it was an incredible experience that i ahve carried with me to this day! For those who have not een my photos go to Im retiring my negatives of these images to any SERIOUS buyer!Quite a find if you have the money as Im the ONLY photographer in world selling private photos of Edith Beale!

  • The House looks GRAND! I only wish i could be in New York my birth place and see the house and grounds in person. WHAT A CONTRAST INDEED!!!!

  • Lynnda Blitzer

    The house and gardens are lovely! I remember that not long ago my son and I watched the movie most recently made about Grey Gardens and its whacked out owners! Matthew was fascinated by the whole story and later wrote a song about it…if I can find the song I will send it to you…

    What a good job your friends did bringing the house back to life….

  • Vicki

    this is absolutely fascinating I love it when people really restore old properties but also research them – I’m sending this link to my friend Laurie Zieber who will be blown away.
    Thanks for writing this up it’s amazing

  • Judith Paige

    I am just amazed how beautful this home is. What a wonderful thing to restore it instead of razing it… I recently watched the HBO Special and am just entranced with this. I feel that it was sad that the owners ened up the way they did.. they would certainly just love it now!!! Wonderful job especially  the gardens.

  • I really is!! Thank you for writing in!