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The rural homestead at 830 Springs-Fireplace Road in Springs, East Hampton, that is now the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center dates back to the late 19th century. The land was purchased in 1878 by James S. Corwin, a local fisherman, who built a house on the 1 ¼ acre lot. (A collar tie in the attic bears the date 1879). In 1888, Mr. Corwin sold the property to Adeline H. King, who sold it two years later to David Howard, another fisherman. His son John Howard and his family lived in the house until 1926, when David Howard sold the property to John Quinn, who worked for the town highway department. His son Howard Quinn inherited it in 1933, and after his death in 1944 his estate put it on the market.   

The Howard children, Amy, David and Alexander, behind the family home, 1918.  Photo courtesy of Camilla Los.

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner were shown the property by Edward Cook, a local realtor acting for the Quinn estate. It was for rent with an option to purchase. The couple moved in on November 5, 1945. (They had been married two weeks earlier at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan.) Jackson’s dealer and patron, Peggy Guggenheim, agreed to lend them the $2,000 down payment, which enabled them to get a $3,000 mortgage from the local East Hampton bank. The deed was transferred to the Pollocks on April 15, 1946. They later bought adjacent land, eventually owning five acres. Lee had a studio area in the back parlor, and Jackson painted in an unheated upstairs bedroom. In June 1946, he had the barn moved from behind the house to the north side of the property and renovated it as his studio.

Pollock-Krasner House, rear elevation, ca. 1946 Photograph by Ronald J. Stein.

Lee continued to work in the house until after Jackson’s death, when she began using the barn studio. Initially the house had no central heating or indoor plumbing. Over time the couple made many improvements; one of the earliest was a back porch extension that accommodated an indoor toilet. They removed interior walls, closed off windows and doors, painted the walls and floor white, and created an open, loft-like space on the ground floor. The house originally had a clapboard finish, which they painted white, with blue shutters. In December 1949, after Jackson’s very successful solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery, they had enough money to install full plumbing and central heating, and in the spring they had the house shingled. After Jackson’s death in August 1956, Lee divided her time between Springs and New York City. She painted many of her major canvases in the barn studio between 1957 and 1982, after which ill health curtailed her productivity. She died in New York Hospital in June 1984. 

Pollock-Krasner House, 1949 Photograph by Martha Holmes

The Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center was created under the terms of Lee Krasner Pollock’s will. She instructed her executors to deed the property to a charitable institution. She envisioned it as “a public museum and library,” to show the setting in which she and Jackson created many of their works, and as a place for the study of modern American art, especially the eastern Long Island art community. In 1987 the property was deeded to the Stony Brook Foundation, a private, non-profit affiliate of Stony Brook University. In preparation for interpreting the house and studio as the artists’ living and working environment, it was learned that a new surface had been applied to the studio floor in 1953, during a major renovation in which the building was winterized.

In 1987-88, a team from New York Conservation Associates removed the pressed wood squares that covered the floor, peeled up a layer of tar paper and revealed the floor surface on which Pollock painted from 1946-1952. The floor was then cleaned of tar paper residue.

When that covering was removed, the original floorboards were found to be intact, complete with the remnants of Jackson’s most famous poured paintings, including Lavender Mist: Number 1, 1950 (National Gallery, Washington DC), Autumn Rhythm: Number 30, 1950 (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Convergence: Number 10, 1952 (Albright-Knox Art Gallery), and  Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952 (National Gallery of Australia). The painted surface was stabilized by a team of art conservators, and an exhibition of photographs and text panels chronicling the two artists’ careers was installed on the walls, where remnants of Lee’s dynamic gestural paintings, including Gaea (Museum of Modern Art, New York), Siren (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden), Untitled (Red) (Guild Hall Museum) and Portrait in Green (Pollock-Krasner Foundation) are evident. The museum was opened to the public in June 1988. 

Jackson Pollock & Lee Krasner,ca. 1949 Photo: Lawrence Larkin