Monday, January 26, 2015

Resurrecting the Concer House

In September of 2013 an application was made to demolish the homestead of Pyrrhus Concer at 51 Pond Lane in Southampton Village and replace it with a new home. The application was denied three months later by the Southampton Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review after which the property owners sued the Village of Southampton who settled, with the stipulation that all original period fabric be able to be extracted prior to the site being cleared and a sign be erected describing the historic significance of the property’s association with Concer. The historic c.1805 fabric has since been extracted and the site was cleared. A sign has not yet been erected.
In late December 2014 the current property owners decided not to proceed with their building plans and have placed the property on the market for sale. This is an opportunity! The property should be purchased by the Town of Southampton so that 1) the Concer homestead can be re-erected on its original property and 2) archaeological investigations can be made on the property which are likely to yield additional important information. Both of these endeavors will ensure that a rare and precious historic resource directly related to Southampton slavery and local African American whalers will be preserved and made available to the public for educational purposes.
If you agree, please paste the following statement into an email and send it to the Southampton Town Clerk at:
Dear Madame Supervisor and Members of the Southampton Town Board:
I, [state your name], a [resident] [second home owner] [visitor] of Southampton, wholeheartedly endorse that the Southampton Town Board purchase the property at 51 Pond Lane, Southampton Village, so that 1) the Concer homestead can be re-erected on its original property and 2) archaeological investigations can be made on the property which are likely to yield additional important information. Both of these endeavors will ensure that a rare and precious historic resource directly related to Southampton slavery and local African American whalers will be preserved and American history, and Southampton Village more particularly, will be preserved and made available to the public for educational and promotional purposes, and especially when much of the same across Long Island has been largely eradicated.
And please share this post! The Town Board needs to hear from as many people as possible!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Benjamin F. Howell Residence, 195 Quimby Lane, Bridgehampton - THREATENED

195 Quimby Lane, Bridgehampton: The Benjamin F. Howell Residence
This home was built on Montauk Highway, just east of Norris Lane, in 1840 for Benamin F. Howell (1801-1855) by Benjamin Glover for $2,230. Benjamin Franklin Howell was a fifth generation descendant of Edward Howell, an original setter of Southampton. At that time the estate encompassed a farm that spanned to the north beyond Edgewood cemetery, and to the south across Montauk Highway beyond where the Bridgehampton school is now. 
The home’s symmetrical internal side chimneys allude to its construction around 1800, (the center chimney referring to construction before 1750), and in this case a copy of the original receipt of construction, dated 1840, survives, so we know its date of construction definitively. The William Corwith house at 2368 Montauk Highway, home of The Bridgehampton Museum, is a similar structure.  

The Benjamin F. Howell residence is a two-story tall, five-bay wide, one room deep home with a side gabled roof, center entry and double-hung windows. It is clad in cedar shingles with corner boards and has one and two-story rear extensions. Early surviving photos indicate that the home was originally painted white. Its front entry is paired with sidelights and a transom. 

Benjamin Franklin Howell was a son to the whaling captain Caleb Howell (1761-1841) and this house was built just west of Caleb's. The latter's, however, no longer survives (removed before 1935). The Howells are buried in the old Bridgehampton cemetery, adjacent to the Presbyterian church in the middle of the hamlet's Main Street.  

In the winter of 1982 the Benjamin F. Howell residence was purchased by Wallace and Elise Quimby and moved to 195 Quimby Lane. The move is captured in Geoffrey Fleming’s book, Images of America: Bridgehampton.
In 1874 Edward Everett Quimby (1831-1902), 43 years old, married for sixteen years and having six children, came to Bridgehampton with his family in tow to spend the summer as a renter, proceeding as such for the next 19 years. His wife was Cynthia Ensign Root who came from a musical family similar to the Von Trapps of Austria. An accomplished violinist herself, she was also a relative of the noted songwriter, George Frederick Root (1820-1895), and even more notably, of Elihu Root (1845-1937), “an American lawyer and statesman and the 1912 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.” The Quimby family was so proud of their connection to the Root family that the name continued to be used as a middle name through several subsequent generations.
E. E. Quimby was born in Maine but was known locally as being from East Orange, New Jersey. Professionally he became a successful dealer of lightning rods and a patent lawyer. Lightning rods were attached to buildings to attract the lightning to them rather than to the buildings, thereby supposedly preventing damage to them. In 1969 E. E. wrote a paper on electricity favoring Benjamin Franklin’s theories about positive and negative energy when Franklin’s theory was much less favored than his French contemporary, Charles duFay. By 1879 however, when E. E. was 48 years old, his lightning rod business was being headed by Edward H. Williams, E.E.’s named successor.
In 1893, E. E. bought 32 acres of land from the Bridgehampton Sandford family at the lower end of Ocean Road, between it and Sagg pond, and the next year he bought property adjacent to it and along Ocean Road. Six years later, the first of several eventual Quimby summer cottages was built which marked the slow realization of a family compound that included many amenities for recreational entertainment.
Wallace Lawler Quimby (1925-1996) was a great-grandson of E.E. Quimby.  He grew up in Bronxville, NY and obtained a college degree in administrative engineering before serving with the Army in the Pacific theatre during World War II. Elise was Wallace’s second wife. His first wife (his first cousin, Cynthia Ann Gilbert (Kate Root Quimby Wiley’s daughter; E.E.’s great grand-daughter) died in 1980. 

An application to demolish this home has been submitted to the Town of Southampton by its present owner, Francois deMenil (brother of Adelaide, who has been a tremendous preservation champion in the Town of East Hampton). The home was moved once before, and as I've learned in the past, there is a strong market in Southampton for historic homes available for relocation. Here's hoping someone will come forward, preferably before January 20th, with an interest in obtaining this valuable historic resource.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pyrrus Concer - His Life, His Family, His Home, and His Legacy - Presentation

Hello world. I haven't blogged in awhile. I am finishing up my second book due out in April. I will hopefully resume blogging in full force by January or February 2015. In the meantime, I will be giving a second - and much improved - presentation on Pyrrhus Concer on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, at 2pm at the Eastville Historical Society in Sag Harbor. I am honored to have been asked to present and am looking forward to it. Sorry for the late notice. If you've missed all the hoopla over the past 14 months, you'll learn A LOT.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More Inspiration

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

186 Crescent Av, Water Mill - "Penny Haven"

186 Crescent Avenue, Water Mill
The home at 186 Crescent Avenue was built about 1785 for Caleb Halsey (1755-1810). It was originally located just up the road at about 258 Halsey Lane, where the land continues to be owned by the Halsey family since before 1750.

About 1929, Lawrence Halsey (1881-1965) sold the house for $200 to Mr. and Mrs. Hendricks V. Duryea who had it moved down to the end of the not yet created Crescent Avenue and renovated into a Colonial Revival style summer retreat. Hendricks, known as "Drix" was a famous architectural photographer and muralist as well as a descendent of the wealthy starch manufacturing family from Glen Cove. During the renovation, when taking up floor boards in the attic, they discovered a penny from 1804, thus choosing the name "Penny Haven" for the residence. They hired the architectural firm of Goodwillie & Moran to design the renovation, a very well-known firm that also designed "Stone Eagles", a Tudor style mansion in Montclair, New Jersey listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Penny Haven in its original location about 1890. Note the original center chimney.
Penny Haven in its original location, about 1925. Note the dual internal chimneys and the new bay window.
After the Duryeas, the home was owned by Eleanor Tyson Bridgman until 1956, by George and Mary Kent Jr. until 1967, by Samuel H. Swint Jr., until 1987, and then by the Sargent family, before selling it in January 2012 to Andrew Zaro. Mr. Zaro had negotiated with the Halsey family in 2013 for them to take the house back to their property and pay all related expenses. That deal fell through. Mr. Zaro is now applying with the town to have the structure demolished. He is aware of the house's age and local significance but is not interested in preserving it. Let's hope he and the Halsey family might come to some 11th hour agreement.

The rear of the home today. This rear/water side was originally the front. The original front door survives.
See the NY Post article out today about the house here: