Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Nestoria," 88 Great Plains Road

Edward Payson Huntting (1844-1931), a Southampton native, built this lovely home on Great Plains Road, after purchasing the property from the vast land-owning Reeves. The Reeves date back to the settling of Long Island’s East End. “The Southold tradition has it that two brothers, Thomas and James Reeves, came to this country about 1660 [from Wales] and took up a residence in Southold. About 1667 Thomas moved to Southampton.”[1]

In 1879 this parcel consisted of sixty-three acres. Yes, sixty-three. It is now less than two acres. Until sometime after 1932 it also included the lot to its east. The name “Nestoria” has been associated with this house since its creation, and is even mentioned in deed and mortgage documents dating back to 1902. It is a two and a half story multi-gabled house with Queen Anne detailing such as variegated shingles, turned posts, and decorative railing patterns. I especially love the entry porch which greets residents and guests with an angled gable.

When Edward P. Huntting was 18 years old he spent a year abroad on a whaling vessel named The Balena and kept a detailed and illustrated journal. Newsday published excerpts from the journal saying it was punctuated throughout by humor, death, and even romance. After the voyage he lived in Iowa and worked as a clerk. In 1870 he returned to Southampton at the age of 26. In 1880 he married Mary Frances Jessup, another Southamptonite; they had three daughters. Mrs. Huntting was an active member of the Methodist church. The Hunttings came from Massachusetts to East Hampton. The first son was born in East Hampton and died in Southampton, where many subsequent Hunttings were born and lived. Edward was Vice-President of the Anti-Saloon League and, according to the Port Jefferson Echo, purchased what was considered to be a bunch of portable buildings (one which was being proposed as a saloon) and had them moved to Eastport in 1901.

Chester H. G. Vail (1887-1949) purchased the property in 1925. The 1920 census lists him as a garage owner who lives on a street leading to Riverhead with other people that had occupations such as “beach house manager, blacksmith, house carpenter,” and “private estate gardener.” The 1930 census lists him as an “auto salesroom proprietor” in the Village of Quogue. Amazing that he could afford the lifestyle and expense of “Nestoria,” and in fact he couldn’t. The Suffolk County Trust Company foreclosed on the property in February of 1934. He is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in East Quogue. He married Ruth L. B. King in 1901.

The next owner was John H. Overall Jr. (b. 1888) was a lawyer with his own firm and a judge from Missouri. His family dates back to the early ancestry of that state. “His grandparents in the paternal line were Wilson Lee and Eliza Ann Overall, the former an officer of the American army in the War of 1812, while the latter was the first woman in America to won and edit a newspaper. The ancestral line is traced back to Bishop John Overall, who was dean of St. Paul’s cathedral in London from 1602 until 1632 and was one of the principal translators of the bible under King James I.”[2]

[1] The Early History of Southampton, L.I., New York, with Genealogies, by George Rogers Howell
[2] Centennial History of Missouri, 1921

Monday, December 27, 2010

The New Hill Street Building

The photo above is the new 16 Hill Street building taken on December 5th and approved by the ARB in October of 2009. It has since received most of its glazing and is even further along.
So what do you think? Like it? Not so much?

I’m sorry. I really want this blog to be a good thing for this community – an asset - but I can’t help standing on my little soap box once in awhile and complaining. This building does not meet the new criteria established in the new design guidelines which Hamilton Hoge actually suggested the applicant look into (They were not yet drafted, but a conversation with the architect commissioned to produce them would have been appropriate.).

The approved design was for a stucco building that had natural, grey, and burgundy coloring and blue retractable awnings over the entry. At some point (that I don’t recall) that changed to a combination of stucco, brick, and shingles, I assume to try to make each store look even more like its own little building. But it’s unsuccessful, because overall the layout is still obviously deliberate, not to mention symmetrical.

The back (shown below) is also a curious elevation, but more along the lines of what was approved. The little cubes of each retail space line up – with a blank spot in the middle - in their pastel colors and tiny windows and look post-modern in style. Not exactly screaming with Southampton character.
Would we prefer the old Yawney dealership still be there? I don’t know, but I know some people who could have renovated that building to be a very appropriate and very cool re-envisioning for Hill Street much more successful than what has been realized. An opportunity has been lost, but this type of architecture is only temporary…………..I think. Blah.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

143 Years Ago, Part II

Continuing from Part I, here are excerpts from the second of a series of articles published by The Southampton Press titled “Southampton Sixty Years Ago,” beginning in December of 1927 and written by Benjamin C. Palmer.

“While one can believe only a small part of what he reads in the newspapers, a home recital can be believed.

……we are sticking to the job of endeavoring to make plain to the younger generation here what took place around Main Street sixty years ago.
…..Just south of the Sayre house (photo above) at Bridgehampton road [Hampton Road now] corner stands a very small building; it stood there just as it does [not] now, when the writer was one of the boys about town. Build and occupied by a good natured genial man, who came from Washington County, NY., and who was a shoemaker by trade. He was brought here by Charles Parsons, the Postmaster, who also was from the same county…….
In the old days, when horses were the only motive power along the country roads, there were inns every few miles, and nearer often, according to the amount of travel, just as gas filling stations exist today, which furnished all that was necessary for man or beast. The leading requirement for most of the travelers was rum. It appears that whiskies and stimulants of other kinds had not become so well known in those days, while rum was well established, rum of two colors – a yellowish white known as New England, and a very dark kind known as Jamaica. Every inn had built at one end a one-room apartment for men only, known as the bar room. Ladies received their refreshments in the main building. Early writers tell us that the demand for rum by the men travelers was continual and the main traffic of these was rum in astonishing quantities. A man was charged only for a measured amount, two fingers being the minor measure, and a hand, including the thumb, the maximum. Generally it was the latter measure that sold most frequently. All inns depended for a livelihood on the amount of rum sold in their bar rooms. Each finger above the two added to the cost, and the most welcome guests were those who ordered a full hand. We have said “all inns,” we have learned of one exception and that one stood on Main Street about opposite the Southampton Bank, and was run by Capt. Charles Howell (photo below). It was a neat, clean hostelry, well kept by the Capt. And his wife. It had the usual bar room attachment, but not a drop of intoxicating liquor was ever sold there. He certainly was a past master Prohibitionist; he raised two fine sons free from the taint of rum-polluted air, the oldest, Charles Rogers Howell, who wrote Howell’s History of Southampton and who also went to Albany, NY. to become the state Librarian and Historian. John, the younger, remained at home and later built and ran the bathing station at the beach…..

We recall the Capt. had a nice row of trees in front of his property. Itching posts were not plentiful, the Methodist Church [relocated, now Brown, Harris, Stevens; photo below] was close by and they had no sheds for the attendants to drive their horses under, out of wind and weather, hence the Capt.’s trees were a great temptation, affording good hitching places and affording shade to the horses on a hot summer morn.

Horses often will gnaw the bark, thus defacing and injuring the young tree; the front stoop of the house stood out to the sidewalk, and today in memory we can see Mrs. Howell, who also prized the trees, standing on the stoop and in shrill and commanding voice calling out to some forgetful Methodist, “Hey there, don’t tie your horse to that tree,” and the poor misguided Methodist had to hunt around and find another place to tie to, for he knew when he woke up, that if by chance he did tie to a Howell tree, he would find after service his horses untied and led off to crib…..”

What a kick! Hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for part III!

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Altered View

The photo above is the view of the “Tenacre” replica being built at the top of Halsey Neck Pond (on Meadowmere Lane) from the overlook at Cooper’s Beach. Isn’t it amazing? Isn’t this a drastic change of view? Do you think this view was considered when the ARB was reviewing the application? I certainly don’t remember that conversation.

The photo above is from the same point but shows a wider context. On November 22nd there was another new house approved on Meadowmere Place which, due to FEMA regulations, will be raised so that its first floor is somewhere around 2 feet above the flood plain. This will result in the house's ridge being about 42 feet above grade. Yowza. Imagine these photos with another house looming on the left/west side. Poor pond. I thought the preservation of open vistas and views had become much more important these days.

Did you know this pond used to be much larger? Above is a detail from an 1894 map showing you Halsey Neck Pond then, below, a Google Earth image of Halsey Neck Pond now. Where the tip of the pond touches Meadowmere Lane is right where Meadowmere Place now begins, the dead end street off the south side of Meadowmere Lane. Many of our village ponds have become smaller over the years and development has happily replaced what was once wetland. I know map-making isn't an exact science, but do you think this evolution has been solely environmental? I sure hope so.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"The Hildreth House," 75 South Main Street

Southampton Village is home to the oldest family owned department store in the country, Hildreth’s, which was begun by Lewis Hildreth, descendant of Thomas Hildreth an early settler of Southampton, in 1842. It was considered a general store then. “In those days, merchandise came by ship to Sag Harbor and was carted by horse & wagon to Southampton.”[1] The store sold bread, crackers, wheels of cheese, salt, flour, fruits & vegetables, sugar, coffee, tea, fabrics, butter churns, spittoons, buggy whips, scrimshaw, buffalo robes, and whaling harpoons. Lewis died in 1870 after contracting Small Pox during a buying trip in New York at the young age of 56.
Some 15 years later, Lewis Hildreth’s heirs - his wife Amanda, and her four children (Edgar, Henry, Harriet, and Charles) - purchased property on the west side of South Main Street from the First Presbyterian Church of Southampton and James H. Pierson for about $3,300 and had a home built. Until this year, this house has remained in the Hildreth family.

“The Hildreth House” has been called one of the only surviving examples of the Stick Style in Southampton Village, but it has become most widely known for its colors: deep red, deep green, and beige. It is an architectural marvel and a sight to behold with most of its embellishment and detail intact.

I will digress here for one minute. There once existed an extraordinary house on Ocean Road in Bridgehampton called “Tremedden” (photo above courtesy the Bridgehampton Historical Society) which I think bears too much of a resemblance to this house and hope to prove one day that the same architect designed both houses. His name was Carlos C. Buck. The colors were the same as well as the general forms and embellishments, only “Tremedden” was larger. Time will tell. Stay tuned.

In 1896, Dr. Charles Hildreth bought his siblings share of the property and owned it outright himself. After he died his wife and children continued to live there. Then when she died, the children (Helen, Charles, Alan, and Constance) inherited the property but moved out and rented the house until 1951, when Constance’s son, Leigh Berglund bought it and restored its original paint colors. He was born in the house and was the last member of the Hildreth family to live there.

Not too long ago, some prospective buyers of this house sought approvals to strip the paint from the house, replace the roof and wall finishes, paint all the trim white, and knock down the barn (one of the two surviving accessory structures). This resulted in quite a bit of outcry from the public and architectural community (both for and against the project) and the applicants were ultimately given approval for everything except re-shingling the walls; they could only strip the paint and stain it or leave it to weather naturally. It seems they were trying to homogenize it, turn it into just another house with natural colored shingles and white trim. But this isn’t just another house, and fortunately, these prospective buyers walked away from buying this architectural treasure before they could reap their irreversible damage.
This year a new family with young children bought the house and they love its style and history. They will be making interior improvements in order to make it a bit more comfortable and bring it up to today’s standards, and yes, they also wish to change the home’s paint colors (insert collective sigh). But they also wish to keep it “a painted lady” which is a wonderful thing. Paint is a temporary finish and this house’s so-called original colors have been well documented, both by the Berglund’s, and by Fairfield Porter, a renowned local American painter. During the 50s, Fairfield Porter, living and working a stone’s throw away, captured this house in at least two of his works (one shown above), and those will never be stripped.

[1] Hildreth’s pamphlet

Monday, December 13, 2010


All of my opinions and coverage of the Southampton Village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review will now be posted on Patch-Southampton ( Happy reading!

Demolition by Neglect

Repeatedly throughout this village, owners allow historic structures to fall into such a state of repair and ultimately gain approval to tear them down. It happens all the time and now the village contains precious few surviving accessory structures. The Talty’s recently received a Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish their circa 1890s barn, one of the few remaining intact barns left. They supplied an engineer’s report and said it has basically disintegrated and there is nothing left to save; the roof is caving in and starting to leak and the walls are bowed/deflecting outward. Here’s the thing though: this property has been technically owned by the Talty’s since 2005, but in the family for many more years. If the barn is in terrible shape it’s because the owners made little to no effort to maintain it. Now their plans are to reproduce it almost exactly, just like they did their house not too long ago. The whole property now will consist of, yet another, bunch of reproductions.

The Town of Huntington includes great maintenance provisions within the Historic District and Landmarks section of their codes, and they’ve existed since 1984! They are as follows.

Chapter 198, Article VI, 198-40.6:

A. No owner, occupier or person with an interest in a historic landmark, or in any open space, place or structure within a historic district shall permit the same to fall into a serious state of disrepair so as to result in the deterioration of any exterior or scenic feature, including but not limited to:
(1) Deterioration of exterior walls or other vertical supports;
(2) Deterioration of roofs or other horizontal members;
(3) Deterioration of exterior chimneys;
(4) Deterioration or crumbling of exterior facade, stucco, shingles or mortar;
(5) Ineffective waterproofing of exterior walls, roofs or foundations, including broken windows or doors;
(6) Deterioration of any feature so as to create a hazardous and unsafe condition which may result in a claim that demolition, in whole or in part, is necessary to protect the public health or safety;
(7) Material deterioration of the aesthetic or scenic appearance of any portion of the open space or real property including its topographical features and earthworks.

B. An owner, occupier or person with an interest in a historic district, or in any open space, place or structure within a historic district who causes, permits and/or allows the same to fall into a serious state of disrepair shall be in violation of this section, and in addition to any other penalty imposed by law, shall be required to restore the open space, place or structure to its appearance prior to the violation.

Our village desperately needs to implement these codes.

By the way, there’s a large, GORGEOUS and intact carriage house on Gin Lane, at #88, built for Henry Barnes circa 1894. This is another example of demolition by neglect. The owners tried to have it demolished years ago but were denied (phew!). But now there it sits, slowly decaying. The photo below is of the back, or east, circa 1897 (courtesy of the Southampton Historical Museum).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

“Wahnfried,” 277 First Neck Lane

The lovely home on the west side of First Neck Lane may look quite new but it’s actually more like 115 years old. Historically known as “Wahnfried,” the home was built circa 1895 for Francis Lewis and Emma von Juch Wellman. Francis (b. 1854) was a prominent lawyer. Born in Boston, he also studied, taught, and practiced there before moving to New York in 1883. He is credited with having prosecuted and convicted many “bad guys,” includingDr. Carlyle W. Harris, Dr. Robert Buchanan, and Ben Alli (alias Frenchy). He was also a partner in a successful corporate law firm named Wellman, Gooch & Smyth.

Emma von Juch Wellman (1861-1939) was a famous opera singer ( She was born in Vienna to American parents. Prior to marriage Emma owned a country home in Stamford, CT on Glenbrook Ave. Mr. and Mrs. Wellman were married in Stamford in June of 1894. Emma was Francis’ second wife. His first wife was Miss Edith Watson who died in June 1892, less than a year after they married. Francis and Emma did not have children, and divorced in 1911. “The grounds on which the plaintiff obtained a decree “de plano” were that her husband had “addressed insults by letter and had signified to her in coarse terms his intention not to resume living with her.”[1] Francis went on to marry again about a year later, then divorce in 1919, then marry again. Emma never remarried (photo below).
William Manice bought the home from Francis Wellman circa 1900. His father was William De Forest Manice who had great holdings in Michigan that contained mines, minerals, and metals that amassed the family a fortune. He attended Columbia University and later became a senior member of the law firm Manice, Abbott & Perry. In 1894 he was New York District Attorney. He wrote a book called “The Art of Cross Examination” in 1903 which has since been referred to as a timeless legal classic. In 1888 he married Sarah Remsen. They had a son, William de Forest, and a daughter, Sarah. In 1902 he and his family had to suddenly leave their five-story brownstone at 20 East 41st street due to a fire which damaged the home to great extent. Luckily no one was injured. William died in 1914 at the age of 55. Mrs. Manice went on to marry again in 1916, to William Appleton Burnham of Boston who was also a widower.

In German Wahnfried means “where illusion finds peace.”

Property Owners (incomplete):
Matthew & Jennifer Sykes Harris (2007-present)
Marko C. & Cynthia T. Remec; Joseph Delgreco (1994-2007)
Leonard H. Sills & Leonard F. Howard (Sept. 1994-Oct. 1994)
Lydia Reeves
William Manice
Francis L. Wellman (1897)
Emma von Juch Wellman (1895-1897)
Josephine A. Curtis (1893)
Benjamin A. & Amy A. Sands, Henry Holbrook Curtis (1890)
May M. & C. Albert Stevens
Rufus Sayre
Catharine M. Brady (1886)
Emily M. Lough (1885); vacant
Margaret H. Schieffelin (1881); vacant
Salem H. Wales (1881); vacantDavid R. & Harriet F. Drake

[1] New York Times, September 22, 1911

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dawn House Movers

No, this isn’t an advertisement. I have never worked with this company before although I wish I had. Not long ago there was a cottage nearby I desperately wanted to move to my property but after speaking with these savvy experts, quickly realized it would not be possible for various reasons. Trust me, I don’t give in easily, so they had their work cut out in convincing me.

Nonetheless I wanted to highlight them in a blog. Not only are they experts in their field across Long Island, they are also preservation heroes. While they’re not in the business of doing favors, because of them and their way of thinking creatively and working as problem-solvers, many more structures have been saved that would otherwise have been lost to date. They have even, occasionally, done historic moves for free! Here is one example:

The Yaphank Historical Society and The Suffolk County Parks Department worked together to restore the Mary Louise Booth house. The first step in the restoration was to have the house moved down East Main Street in Yaphank and onto Suffolk County Parklands with DHM completing the move flawlessly. The house was built in 1823. “Mary Louise Booth was born in this house in Millville (Now Yaphank) in 1831. Her father was the village schoolmaster. At an early age, she showed proficiency in languages. At age fourteen, she moved from Millville (Yaphank) to Brooklyn where she taught school and continued her studies. In 1859, she published the first comprehensive history of the city of New York. She also translated over 40 volumes from French. In 1867 she was invited to become the first editor of Harper's Bazaar. The magazine became a huge success. As editor, she published the fiction and essays of popular authors. Articles on interior decoration and fashion also played a part in the magazines popularity. Its circulation rose to 80,000. Mary Louis remained editor of Harper's Bazaar until her death in 1889. Mary Louise Booth is perhaps the most nationally recognized person to have lived in Millville (Yaphank). It is very important that her birthplace be recognized and preserved."[1]

By the way, the photo at the top is the Sagaponack house, built in the 1930s, now owned by the Peconic Land Trust. This has been in the papers a lot, and is also well-documented on DHM’s website.

“When you partake in a house moving or raising project, you are helping to preserve our history today, for tomorrow, as well as continue the on-going effort to make a "Green world.” DHM
[1] Karen Mouzakes, Yaphank Historical Society

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Westlawn/Littlecote," 107 Great Plains Road

107 Great Plains Road is well-known to some because it was a “Designers Showcase House” in 2003. I went on that tour years ago. The Designers Showcase Houses are always fun to see. Each interior designer gets their own room or space in which to create whatever their minds come up with, sometimes far-fetched, but usually breath-taking and clever.

This lovely symmetrical home, known originally as “Westlawn,” then “Littlecote,” is a 2 ½ story 6 bay singled house with five decorative dormers across the front that have pilasters supporting pediments and round-top windows, and a two-story round bay on the east side. The dormers mimic the pilastered and pedimented entry, which is flanked by large bay windows on each side. Not all of these features are original however. Below is a photo from the April 1921 issue of Architecture magazine.

You can see lots of differences, besides all the ivy. First, there were large barrel-vaulted (or “hooded”) porches where the bay windows are now, the entry had a much more elaborate broken pediment top with urn ornamentation, and the dormers had shutters.

The house was designed by F. Burrall Hoffman Jr. (1882-1980), an architect educated at Harvard and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and perhaps best known for Villa Vizcaya, the historic mansion in Miami. Most references state the house’s construction date circa 1900 but I would say it was more likely in the early 1890s because of its appearance on the historic F.W. Beers map of 1894. It still may have very well been built for Charles H. Lee though as he purchased the property in 1891.

But let’s back up a little. The property was originally owned………………..okay, by the Indians, then bought by the original settlers, and so on. At some point the property was owned by Albert Hildreth, then by Augustus E. Halsey and his wife, and then by Charlotte N. Schermerhorn.

Charlotte N. [Benton] Schermerhorn (1844-1903) was the second wife and widow of Alfred Schermerhorn (1819-1878). He was connected with the bank of New York and served in the Civil War. They had three sons: Alfred Egmont, Charles, and Colford. Alfred Egmont was a member of the Southampton Village Board of Trustees, a member of the Board of Governors of the Southampton Hospital, treasurer of the Meadow Club and Secretary of the Southampton Club.

Charlotte sold the property to Lucie C. Lee, wife of Charles Henry Lee (1855-1921) in 1891. Charles and Lucie [Whitney] (b. 1855) were married in 1880 and had five sons and two daughters and homes in Hempstead, and Manhattan, as well as Southampton. “Mr. Lee, whose home in the city was at 24 Gramercy Park, was a grandson of the Gideon Lee who was mayor of New York in 1830 and founded in 1804 the original Lee & Co., which sold out to the United States Leather Company in 1893. Charles H. Lee soon after became head of the Andean Trading Company, and later re-established his own leather business.”[1]

The next owner was Edward Tiffany Dyer (1849-1913) who was married to Edith La Bau (1854-1919), a grand-daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Edward was a member of the Union, Country, and Colony Clubs, the Metropolitan Club of Washington, and the Sons of the Revolution. Mr. Dyer was in the wholesale commission business for many years, a member of the firm of Otherman, Dyer & Southwick. Edward’s father, Henry, was a noted physician.

Edwin Willis Shields was born in 1866 in Iowa. In 1896 he married Martha Deardorff who was born in Indiana in 1878. They had two children together: a son and a daughter. The 1920 census shows them living in Kansas City with five servants. Mr. Shields was a successful grain merchant. “Edwin W. Shields was president of the Simonds-Shields-Lonsdale Grain Company and a resident of Kansas City for over forty years. He was known nationally as an authority on grain. In 1910 he built his beautiful home "Oaklands" at 5110 Cherry Street in Kansas City. It was among the first homes to be constructed in that part of the city. It is Elizabethan in architectural style and contained many furnishing and works of art from that period. Today the home is the administrative headquarters for the Bloch School of Business and Public Administration on the UMKC campus.

After the death of Mr. Shields in 1920, his widow Martha resided in the home for another 30 years entertaining guests and displaying the extensive art collection including the works of old masters and 17th century tapestries. Mrs. Shields was a trustee of the Kansas City Art Institute, and a trustee of the Philharmonic Orchestra Association.”[2] Their home, "Oaklands," is now the administrative building for the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

Rebecca Bolling Littlejohn (1873-1961), a Southampton based collector and former chairwoman of the Parrish Art Museum, owned the house next. She assembled the core of 19th and 20th century American art collection at the Parrish Art Museum in the 50s. In 1961 (upon her death) she bequeathed her collection (hundreds of works) to the museum.[3] She was married to Robert Malcolm Littlejohn (b. 1874, who was listed on census documents as a bank clerk in 1910 and an importer in 1920. They had one daughter, Charlotte Townsend Littlejohn who was married in 1929 to Edward Norris Rich, Jr. in St. Andrews Dune Church.

I am currently reading At Home; A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson (I highly recommend it.) In the introduction, the following statement is made which has really stuck with me: “Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”

Property Owners (present to past):
Great Plains Realty Co. Inc. (Emmet Blot, Madeleine Blot; 1983-present)
Estate of Cecile J. Johnson (1982-1983)
Estate of Harold F. Johnson (1954-1982)
Rebecca Bolling Littlejohn (1926-1954)
Edwin W. & Martha D. Shields (1919-1926)
Henry Lyman Dyer
Edward Tiffany Dyer (1909)
Charles & Lucie Lee (1891-1909); of Orange, New Jersey; $4,200; less than 7.75 acres
Charlotte M. Schermerhorn (1881-1891); 7.75 acres; $2,400
Augustus E. & Harriet Halsey, vacant
Albert Hildreth, vacant

[1] New York Times, Jan. 2, 1921
[2] Elmwood Cemetery Society, Kansas City, Missouri
[3] New York Times, Nov. 6, 2009

Monday, November 22, 2010

Definitions & 67 Layton Avenue

Here are the Secretary of the Interior’s definitions for restoration, demolition, renovation, preservation, etc. I find them very handy and I’ll tell you why after.

Preservation is defined as the act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property. Work, including preliminary measures to protect and stabilize the property, generally focuses upon the ongoing maintenance and repair of historic materials and features rather than extensive replacement and new construction. New exterior additions are not within the scope of this treatment; however, the limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation project.

Reconstruction is defined as the act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location.

Rehabilitation is defined as the act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values.

Restoration is defined as the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period. The limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a restoration project.

Neither our Village nor our State codes include these definitions and they should. They should even go a step further as far as I’m concerned. For example, out here, if you improve the area of your house more than 50%, it is considered ‘New Construction’ rather than ‘Renovation.’ The definitions above could also benefit by the inclusion of percentages.

Here’s where I’m going with this. My observation of the dismantling of 67 Layton Avenue (photos sprinkled throughout this post) has me left wondering exactly how much of the original house has been saved except the skeleton? All the original materials are gone, inside and out. All of the chimneys are gone. There is a new foundation, will be a new east wing and a lot of new framing sistered together with the existing framing. It’s akin to dramatic reconstructive surgery. It’s still the same soul but……………or is it?

The 67 Layton Avenue project was labeled an addition/renovation project. Looks like new construction to me. They might as well have just demolished and replicated it, right? During the ARB public hearing the applicant said, "We know we can't demolish it." But they might as well have. It saddens me that a circa 1890 house was treated this way, with little to no oversight or sensitivity.

The RESTORATION of the Nathaniel Rogers of House in Bridgehampton is finally underway. Throughout the working drawings percentages of new vs. original are constantly called out. 40% new siding here, 30% new something there. Our codes would really benefit from having more definitions in them, with percentages and parameters to distinguish one activity from the other. It would also prevent, I hope, the stripping down of historic – landmark worthy – resources.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Bon Acre," 75 First Neck Lane

This lovely 2 ½ story home clad in shingles is located toward the top of First Neck Lane. Among it’s wonderful architectural features are a double-gabled porte-cochere, a round turreted tower, an immense two-story northern porch, and widows walk. This house is anything but boring to the passerby.

The Reeves family owned this parcel along with a great swath of land along First Neck and Ox Pasture Road since the late 1600s. The Reeves date back to the settling of Long Island’s East End. “The Southold tradition has it that two brothers, Thomas and James Reeves, came to this country about 1660 [from Wales] and took up a residence in Southold. About 1667 Thomas moved to Southampton.”[1] Edward Reeves, one of the sons of Henry and Emily Reeves who owned the Kirby House on the northwest corner of First Neck and Ox Pasture, probably inherited this parcel from his uncle Albert (see 1894 map image). He and his brother also owned many other properties in Southampton Village and enjoyed being landowners.

Sometime between 1894 and 1902 Dr. Porter Flewellyn Chambers (1854-1922) bought the property from Edward Reeves and built a house. Dr. P. F. Chambers was a gynecologist from Georgia that practiced with Dr. Theodore Gaillard Thomas (who is credited with starting the Southampton village colony development) for ten years in New York. Dr. Chambers married Alice Ely in 1893 and they had three children. He and his family were very social in Southampton and New York and mentioned frequently in the society pages. Dr. Chambers also served as one of the presidents of the Southampton Village Improvement Society. He owned #426 Gin Lane prior to building “Bon Acre.”

The property was owned by the Chambers for at least 70 years, before Dr. Flewellyn’s daughter finally sold it in 1967 to Mrs. Patcevitch.

Chesbrough Lewis Patcevitch (1913-2005) was a New York social figure and quasi-philanthropist. While she had been married four times, she became a widow of Iva S. V. Patcevitch, a former president and chairman of Conde Nast Publications, after 30 years of marriage. “A native of Perrysburg, Ohio, the young Chesbrough Lewis was a cafe society beauty photographed by Horst and Avedon.”[2] Her daughter, Chessy Rayner, was a highly regarded decorator and fashion writer and editor who died of cancer at the age of 66 in 1998.
Property Owners (present to past):
Barbara Lowy (1997-present)
Herbert & Lilian Fisher (1993-1997)
Paul H. Cohen (1973-1993)
Eleanor V. [Cernadas] Rutherford (1968-1973)
Chesbrough Patcevitch (1967-1968)
Alice Chambers Prosser (1949-1967)
William Ely Chambers & Ambrose Ely Chambers
P.F. Chambers
E. C. Reeves

[1] The Early History of Southampton, L.I., New York, with Genealogies, by George Rogers Howell
[2] New York Times, Jan. 10, 2005

Monday, November 15, 2010

143 Years Ago (1867) - Part I

The Southampton Press published a series of articles titled “Southampton Sixty Years Ago,” beginning in December of 1927 and written by Benjamin C. Palmer. Here is an excerpt of the first in the series.

“… must judge from their own viewpoint as to whether the old town has [evolved] into better or worse conditions……the world at large knew very little about the place way out here in the woolly wild extreme of Long Island and very little was cared by the outside world until Dr. T. Gaillard Thomas [photo at top], a celebrated New York physician, and the Hon. Salem H. Wales one of the Park Commissioners of New York discovered it and put it on the map….
There were several ways to get here if one happened to be in New York and wanted to come here, one could walk, drive a horse, or swim, but the practical way was to either take that wonderful innovation, the train from Hunters Point to Riverhead, hire a rig and drive over, or better continue on by rail to Greenport, take the little ferry boat, Water Lilly, to Sag Harbor and thence by the “Safety, Speed and Comfort” stage owned and run by Al Robinson, one of the jolliest [drivers] that ever held the lines over a spanking team, that could get over the road at four miles an hour if the going was good……..Once on Main Street one soon found there were three stores, the post office and store of Charles Parsons who left most of its management to this genial and gentlemanly clerk, the late Henry F. Herrick, who later became his successor, said store standing where Herrick’s hardware store now stands [photo below].
A few yards further North a low wooden building covered the general merchandise of Lewis Hildreth [photo above] the nucleus of the present fine department store known as E.A. & H. Hildreth. Mr. Hildreth, the father, was quiet, thoughtful, even serious, and a most worthy citizen of the isolated town whose honesty of purpose and whose religiously fair dealings formed a standard foundation for the business he was to bequeath to his sons who became, after his demise, his successors. [His widow went on to build 75 South Main Street.]

Almost directly opposite stood the third of these three leading stores, Josiah Foster & Co., all of whom catered to the wants of urban and suburban residents of many miles around..…… Mr. Foster built a very a ttractive residence [photo above] just North of the store which in common with most of the homes on Main Street was built very close to the sidewalk [now at 383 First Neck Lane]. On the North corner of Job’s Lane stood the Academy where the younger generation who had graduated from the district schools took on the finish of their education before they entered into the more serious occupation of going out to compete in the world about them.
Diagonally across the street from there, Southeast corner of Main Street stood as it does today, the stately wooden edifice of the Presbyterian Society [photo above], the Pastor in charge being the Rev. Dr. Hugh Wilson……
On the corner North, stood the residence of Capt. Albert Rogers [photo above], perhaps one of the most attractive and substantial residences in the village, this property in later years was sold to Dr. John Nugent, but now and for many years back has been owned and occupied by Mr. Samuel L. Parrish. Last Spring it was moved back to its present position and attractive stores were built on the street front. Just North of Capt. Rogers property stood the second building of the Presbyterian Society. It had been sold to a prosperous North end farmer, Frank Bishop, who meant to convert it into a barn. He started to move it then becoming shocked by the thought of converting a former church edifice into a barn he secured a plot of ground of Capt. Rogers and ran the old church in there. Later it was sold to the Methodist Society which had become established here in spite of much opposition and had [evolved] into such a strong financial condition as to pay a pastor the princely sum of $600 per year. [It eventually became the Village Hall, and today is the Brown Harris Stevens building.]

When Capt. Rogers built his home the cost seemed to be the height of extravagance to his more frugal townsmen, but that didn’t phase the Captain, who was more than pleased when the Methodists became settled North of him and expressed himself in language dramatic and forceful, “that now he couldn’t help but be good with a church on either side of him.” The last two houses in South Main Street were directly opposite each other and are now there “Hollyhocks” on the West side [known today at the Thomas Halsey house, photo above], and the home of Mr. Isaac Foster, on the east side, father of our present Edward H. Foster, Esq. of Post Crossing [photo below].
“Hollyhocks” was owned by quite a character named Nichol White, who had a small farm, but had little taste for farming; he was noted for tramping the beach with his gun watching out for ducks, “Bunkers” and incidentally whales and if you saw a man on the top of a tall Dune, wildly swinging his coat, you could safely bet that that was “Nick” and he had seen something……..
When some of our relatives from away visited, we used to hook up the old mare and drive them around town to see the sights. One was the palatial residence of Wm. R. Post, Esq. [photo below] which is now standing on the East side of Main Street in good repair. Some years after Mr. Post died, Mr. L.E. Terry bought the property and has since resided there.
Dr. Hallock, who for many years, until the coming of Dr. John Nugent, was the only doctor available for many miles around, bought the property just South of the home of Edward Cook Reeves and his brother, Albert; the house thereon was of antiquated style, he had it built over into Gothic form when it became one of the residential sights. While out on this drive we would go clear around the lake to see the last or only house of Mr. Charles White [photo below] on First Neck Lane, corner of Ox Pasture Road, which is still there on the same foundations…….

There were no hard sidewalks or oiled roads and traveling in muddy weather would have been impossible for automobiles. In the evenings “the gang” held forth at the Post office and it was not beneath the dignity of many of the younger and some of the older men to go barefooted. The natives were a thrifty, hard working manly set of men, putting twelve to fifteen hours a day in their fields or fishing, honor reigned supreme among them, and every man’s word was his bond – unless he was spinning a fish or a whale yarn – then watch him. Every third man was a Captain, and rejoiced in the cognomen, Captain of a whaler, or perhaps a Bunker crew but a Captain nevertheless from the feet up.

More than ninety percent were religious. They worked hard six days, but found the church door on Sunday. No wonder Southampton has prospered…….”

Photos of the Foster House and Herrick's courtesy the Southampton Historical Museum.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Before & After #3: 106 Meetinghouse Lane

Here is another before and after for you. This new multi-family house replaced a circa 1840s house that was associated with the Southampton Mackie family. The new house was designed by Eileen Bennett, a local architect. A few houses away is the still surviving and original house at #90 (see below). It makes me wonder if Ms. Bennett was inspired at all by number 90? I prefer the volume of #90 (which isn’t possible these days due to the Pyramid Law), the more substantial moldings, the chimneys, and the front porch. There is something generic about the new #106, and its volume seems strangely shallow.

How can I spin a negative into a positive here? Well, it is a multi-family unit, and we sure do need more of that in the village.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Sunnymeade," 49 Ox Pasture Road

This house is located on the north side of Ox Pasture Road, just behind (to the west) of the Kirby House, which I’ve written about previously. I think the design of this house can be described – thus far anyway – as timeless. It’s an old house, but if it were newly built today it would fit right in without being associated with or considered an historic design. It’s a collection of classic vernacular elements assembled in a balanced symmetrical composition which is always appealing. It is registered as an Historic Place by the State and Nation.

Historically referred to as “Sunnymeade,” this house is three stories with a wrap-around porch on three sides. Tuscan columns support the porch with broad overhanging eaves concealing the porch beam. It has a gambrel roof, paired front dormers, and is entirely clad with natural cedar shingles. It is 8,000 square feet, with seven bedrooms and bathrooms, six fireplaces, a play room, media room, reading room, study, living room, dining room, kitchen, and laundry room. Originally, it was a farmhouse which has been added onto extensively. The interior layout has been changed, the kitchen was expanded into where there was an attached garage, the porch columns are not original, many of the doors and windows have been replaced, the west side porch is not original, the full basement was added, and the entire rear section was an addition.

There was a little garage with gambrel roof on the property that was moved to First Neck Lane at some point and, I think, still survives. There was also a barn which burned down in 1956. The swimming pool, installed in 1964, was one of the first in the village.

The original farmhouse was most likely built for Albert Reeves (1807-1890) circa 1870. The Reeves family owned this parcel, all those adjacent to it and more since the late 1600s. The Reeves date back to the settling of Long Island’s East End. “The Southold tradition has it that two brothers, Thomas and James Reeves, came to this country about 1660 [from Wales] and took up a residence in Southold. About 1667 Thomas moved to Southampton.”[1] Edward and his brother Albert Reeves, the sons of Henry and Emily Reeves, who owned the Kirby House next door, inherited the property from their uncle Albert. They also owned many other properties in Southampton Village and enjoyed being landowners.

Edward and Albert Reeves sold the house and property to Daniel Shepard Havens. Often referred to as Captain Daniel Havens, he had three wives and eight children during his lifetime. Interestingly, all of his wives were Fannings, all sisters, and all daughters of the farmer and Reverend Nathaniel Fanning. His third wife, Jennie, was twenty-five years his junior. The Havens were notorious landowners in addition to owning lumber yards and a coal business. The Fannings also owned a lot of property, some of which the Havens could have acquired by gift or inheriting. Ullman R. Havens was one of Daniel’s sons. Another had to have his arm amputated after almost shooting it off himself during a hunting outing in 1874.

Shepherd Knapp De Forest (1867-1929) was the director of the 10th and 20th Street Ferries, and the Queens County Bank. He was a member of the Union, Racquet and Tennis, Southside Sportsmen’s, and Westminster Kennel Clubs. He and his wife (1st wife Josephine Louise Laimbeer died), Kate Rogers Newell, were avid art collectors and loaned some of their significant Japanese pottery to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They had one daughter, Margaret. Shepherd De Forest was related to the Knapp family, who built “Tenacre,” the wonderful John Russell Pope designed home further west on Ox Pasture. The de Forests had the rear addition built by C. Elmer Smith circa 1910. Mr. Smith was a popular village resident and builder. He worked on the hospital, the home of Mrs. Stephen H. Pell, the Southampton Bank, and the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. He was the mayor of the village from 1913 to 1918 when he died during the flu epidemic.

Annie R. [Williams] Gilbert (1864-1927), widowed by the time she bought the property, was active in Southampton Village society in the summer seasons. Her late husband, Riley Miles Gilbert (b. 1854) was associated with the steel trade. They married in 1893 and had three children, Annie, Francis, and Miles Jr. Annie was a member of The Colony Club, the Colonial Dames of America, and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The subsequent owner was Virginia Beggs Carnegie (1878-1952). She was the wife of Thomas Morrison Carnegie Jr. (1874-1944), Andrew Carnegie’s nephew (his brother’s son). “Thomas Morrison Carnegie, Jr. was the fourth son. As with most Carnegies, he was not very tall. He had light brown hair and blue eyes. He was a very gentle person and I think, a dreamer, so quiet in his ways. He was devoted to his wife, Virginia, and boys, Tom and Carter. He rode, played golf and tennis, and shot like his brothers, but gardening was his great hobby."[2] In 1904, Virginia bought a house named “Clyden” nearby, on Coopers Neck Lane. When she acquired this property, she was still the owner of Clyden, but four years later gave it to relatives.

John Bacon (1909-1994) and Lois Frances Barstow (d. 2002) Aspegren bought Sunnymeade in 1951. Lois was a twin. Her father and grand-father were with the Standard Oil Company, her grand-father being one of the directors, and one of her two brothers owned the Interstate Tank Car Corporation. That company was a former subsidiary from Aspegren & Co., from John B. Aspegren's father. That father was also president of the New York Produce Exchange. They were prominent in Newport, Rhode Island as well as in Southampton.

Ox Pasture Road was created circa 1677. It was referred to as the Ox Pasture Division, creating the north and south sides, the southern boundary being Great Plains Road, and the northern boundary being Hill Street.

Special thanks to William Rabbe, an Aspegren grandson, for most of the photos in this post.

Owners (present to past):
John J. & Linda Powers (2010-present)
Steve & Alexandra E. Mandis (2006-2010); Money Man
John B. & Lois Barstow Aspegren (1951-2006); Newport and Southampton Socialites
Virginia B. Carnegie (1928-1951); relative of the well-known philanthropist
Annie R. Gilbert (1921-1928); rented Foster House in 1920
Shepherd K. & Kate R. de Forest (1909-1921)
Charles Higbee (1893-1909) (briefly owned the right/east third of the property; a descendant of Thomas Sayre, one of the founders of Southampton)
Ullman R. & Ida W. Havens (x-1893/1909)
Daniel Shepard Havens (c. 1890-x)
Edward Cook Reeves & Albert H. Reeves (x-x)
Albert Reeves (prior to 1873)

[1] The Early History of Southampton, L.I., New York, with Genealogies, by George Rogers Howell