January 3, 2020

Randy Polumbo Converts 1899 Lighthouse Into a Green-Powered Artist’s Retreat

  1. The bunk house, or grotto, at Plum Gut Grotto, an 1899 lighthouse converted into an artist’s retreat by Randy Polumbo. Photography by Randy Polumbo.

Internet shopping has reached a whole new level with Plum Gut Grotto. Sculptor Randy Polumbo was searching government websites for old fuel tanks for a future project and ended up purchasing Orient Point Light, a 19th-century lighthouse off Long Island, in Plum Gut Harbor, that he’s spent five years converting into an artist’s residency.

“It’s my micro philanthropy, where someone can come stay a few weeks and write the great American novel,” he says. And they can do so entirely off the grid. Polumbo, a Cooper Union alumnus who creates towering “lodestars” and immersive “grottos” (including an elaborate one at the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania), has updated the structure with USB ports, outlets, appliances, and a composting toilet, all of which run on energy generated from a newly installed windmill and solar panels—techniques he’s mastered in his other profession, founder of the eco construction company Plant (clients include Santiago Calatrava, Lee Mindel, and Maya Linn).

Of course, there’s also his signature sparkling galaxy of a grotto with a vast “topographical human habitat,” or built-in banquette, and an illuminated crystal-clad ball spinning outside, like a beacon to boaters and creatives alike.

Tax-deductible donations to Plum Gut Grotto are accepted here

Watch drone video footage of Plum Gut Grotto:

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE. Newly built teak dining table that seats six. Photography by Randy Polumbo.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE. The atelier with new teak writing desk. Photography by Randy Polumbo.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE. Closeup of the desk, which seats two. Photography by Randy Polumbo.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE. Stair to top of lighthouse. Photography by Randy Polumbo.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE. Porthole into the grotto’s 20-foot-long banquette and ceiling of hand-hammered mirror-polished aircraft aluminum. Photography by Randy Polumbo.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE. The Oracle of Plum Gut, a 4-foot-diameter spinning ball of marine epoxy, crystals, silvered mirror, glass beads, and color-changing LEDs. Photography by Randy Polumbo.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE. The deck. Photography by Randy Polumbo.
Solar arrays installed on the deck. Photography by Randy Polumbo.

> See more from the Winter 2019 issue of Interior Design Homes

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