Thursday, September 30, 2010

8. Did You Know........................

Did you know that Cryder Lane, a tail of a road off of Dune Road between Gin and Meadow Lanes (like Road D, Road G, etc.), was named after the Cryder family who owned one of the earliest homes on the village dunes? What you don’t know, is the incredible history behind this property and family.

Circa 1880, a lovely casual shingle style home with a large hipped roof and small symmetrical east and west wings was built by Frederic Betts for his brother C. Wyllys Betts and named "Sandrift." At the time the house was built there was no Cryder Lane; the property butted right up to the one to its east owned by J. T., and subsequently L. F. Terry. Sometime around the turn-of the century the ocean access road (Cryder Lane, but then without any given name) was introduced. The house no longer exists today and has been replaced by another. The Betts brothers, both lawyers, are known as the second to come to Southampton Village and build [at least seven] houses on the dunes at the foot of Lake Agawam.

Duncan Cryder (1843-1913) bought the house in 1885. He was the son of John and Mary (Wetmore) Cryder. John was a very wealthy shipping merchant and a partner of Wetmore & Cryder, Co. Duncan, a native New Yorker, was a tea importer and as such traveled extensively. In 1880 he married Elizabeth Callender Ogden (1848-1915) who was the daughter of Edward Ogden and Caroline Callendar of Newport, R.I., and a descendant of one of our country’s original Pilgrims, John Ogden. Shortly after their marriage they had a baby girl, Anita Wetmore Cryder, who died shortly after birth. Two weeks later the Cryders left the country, either to escape their sorrows, or on business, or both. But in 1882, Elizabeth – at the age of 34 - joyously gave birth to triplet daughters (Elsie (Elizabeth), Edith, and Ethel) who looked remarkably alike and were a social phenomenon.

In 1891, Cryder, after spending the winter in Biarritz and becoming interested in golf there, wrote his friend Samuel L. Parrish about whether golf could be established in Southampton. Along with two other gentlemen, WK Vanderbilt and Edward S. Mead, Cryder invited Willie Dunn to journey to Southampton to design a twelve-hole seaside links, which eventually became Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Duncan Cryder was also the first president of the Meadow Club.

Also in 1891, Duncan’s brother, William Wetmore Cryder, “was indicted for perjury and embezzling $39,000 from Manhattan Square Bank, where he was president. The family scandal prompted Duncan Cryder to take his family to Paris. There Elsie and her siblings lived what she later called a “life of leisure.” The triplets were educated by their governesses and toured Europe with their parents. In 1899 the triplets, now lovely young socialites, and their parents returned to New York.”[1]

In addition to the triplets, the Cryders had a son, Ogden (1884-1902). When Ogden was 17 he died after being run over by a street car. That was the beginning of family tragedy for years to come. One of the triplets, Elsie, married William Woodward Sr., the president and director of the Hanover Bank of New York, and the secretary to the Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s during the reign of Edward VII. They had one son, William “Billy” Woodward Jr. (1920-1955). Billy graduated from Harvard and afterward fought in the Navy in WWII. He subsequently became a director of Hanover Bank and was considered one of the most eligible bachelors in America.

Image above is a detail of a postcard, courtesy The Eric Woodward Collection, showing "Sandrift" circa 1914.

In 1943 Billy married Ann Eden Cromwell, “an actress who also danced as a showgirl in upscale New York nightclubs….The marriage was tenuous from the start and the couple fought frequently. He had numerous affairs and she took to social climbing….

After attending a dinner party for the Duchess of Windsor on October 30, 1955, the couple returned home, nervous about reports of a prowler roaming nearby estates, including their own. The Woodwards were both avid hunters, although Ann was considered a terrible shot, and each went to their separate bedrooms that evening with loaded shotguns. A few hours later Ann heard a noise, went into a darkened hallway with her gun and shot and killed her husband, believing him to be a prowler. Subsequent investigations determined that there had indeed been a prowler in the house that evening…..Ann was never charged in the matter. Life Magazine called the episode “The Shooting of the Century…

Ann was banished from high society and her sons were sent to boarding school in Europe. The tale, which followed Ann everywhere, was thinly disguised and retold in Truman Capote’s novel, Answered Prayers, and Dominick Dunne’s novel The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, and in the non-fiction book This Crazy Thing Called Love by Susan Braudy.

Ann learned of the impending publication, in Esquire magazine, of Capote’s initial version of the story and killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills in 1975….

The two children of the marriage, William “Woody” Woodward III and James Woodward, both committed suicide by jumping from windows: James in 1976, after volunteering to fight in the Vietnam War, then returning home to become a heroin addict with a huge trust fund. Woody died in 1999, overwhelmingly upset over his recent divorce.”[2]

[1] Damascus, by Lucy Heckman
[2] Wickipedia

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Section 65-4

I went to the Trustees worksession on Tuesday evening to speak about the need for Section 65-4 of the Village Codes to be amended to remove the part requiring properties to be visible from a public right of way, etc. in order to fall under the jurisdiction of the ARB before being demolished. I learned that, after my presentation at the last ARB public hearing, Beau Robinson, council to the ARB, brought-up the issue at the latest Chairpersons meeting which occurred last week. Apparrently, the Village Trustees thought that they had implemented blanket protection of all buildings when they instituted the requirement that anything built prior to 1926 be evaluated by Zach Studenroth prior to being demolished. They simply weren't aware of the "loophole." With extreme pleasure the trustees expressed their sincere interest in amending this section of the village code and have asked Beau to do so! WAHOO!!! Progress!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Reproduction Trend in Southampton Village

something made by reproducing an original

any close or exact copy or reproduction

The amount of reproduction/replica architecture taking place in this village is embarrassing and wrong. This is not Disneyland (no offense), this is the Village of Southampton, where authentic and masterful architectural creations abound. Yes, many historic beauties have been lost, but we still have plenty (although we need to guard them fiercely) to be inspired by and which set the standard for architectural character and integrity in the community, both in the estate and ‘local’ areas. We do not need to accept a tendency or acceptance toward reproductions; not now, not ever. This is not about the construction of houses that look like they might have been built many years ago, the currently popular trend of building ‘New Old Houses.’ This is about replicating houses rather than saving them, about taking the easy way out, about our community presenting false history to itself and those who visit, and about filling our neighborhoods with fake copies of originals rather than clever and inspired re-interpretations of them. “Architecture, as distinct from building, is an interpretive, critical act. It has a linguistic condition different from the practical one of building. A building is interpreted when its rhetorical mechanism and principles are revealed.”[1]

“Situations in which the use of replicas seems least justified are those in which they are not really essential to the aesthetic enjoyment or intellectual comprehension of the architectural complex to which they belong.”[2] Examples are the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee (at top) and the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building in Shelburne Village, Vermont (below).
Originally built in 1897 for the city’s 100th birthday, the full scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennesse houses the city’s collection of 19th and 20th century American art. Originally constructed, not of stone, but of wood, brick, and plaster it rapidly deteriorated and was rebuilt in 1920 with concrete. Still not able to last more than a few decades, it underwent a major restoration in 1988. Nashvillians are quite fond of it apparently.
The Electra Havemeyer building, was built in 1960 as a memorial to the Shelburne Museum’s founder (in Vermont) and serves as one of the museum’s exhibit buildings. It is a duplicate of the 1843 Greek Revival style Wilcox-Cutts house in Orwell, VT. Electra founded the museum in 1947 and relocated many historic structures to the 8 acre property. Perhaps the Wilcox-Cutts house is one that she could not save.

The most recent approval for a replica in Southampton Village was for “The Moorlands” at 477 Halsey Neck Lane after it was illegally demolished last May. After the slow and arrogant dismantling of that historic structure, the Board of Historic Preservation (huh?) and Architectural Review ultimately gave permission for the owners to reproduce the house. No doubt the builder, architect, and owners were driven in their pleas by a strong desire not to have to scrap the foundations they had already installed….but it’s worth remembering that the architect and owners wanted a far less “Moorlands” looking house with symmetrical composition in the beginning.

If an owner today chooses to have a noted historic design copied for their own use, they are “ruining a beautiful model by arbitrary enforcement of its form upon a totally unsuitable “replica,” or pseudo-adaptation.”[3]
The second most recent approval for a reproduction was for the carriage house at 101 Great Plains Road. There was nothing wrong with this structure except that it may have been more expensive to renovate it than to knock it down and build anew. It wasn’t suffering from neglect; it wasn’t falling down. The historic consultant to the village gave his consent because, in his opinion, it has been altered significantly compromising its architectural integrity. But look at it. It was practically unaltered except for small additions to its north and south ends. And its carriage house interior – believe me, I saw it – was the same, completely recognizable.

“The past century has taught us that reconstructions and reproductions of vanished buildings are culturally hazardous. There is a growing recognition of the fact that, in the last analysis, it is all but impossible to produce permanently convincing fakes. Time has its own merciless way of exposing them.”[4]
The third most recent replica approved was “Tenacre,” except this time, the original still exists in all its exceptional and, until now, unique glory. The original is on Ox Pasture Road. The reproduction is underway on Meadowmere Lane. The original was built for Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Knapp in 1920 by architect John Russell Pope. The reproduction is being built for Mr. & Mrs. Gary Garrabrant by architect John David Rose.

The last example of reproduction in our village that I will mention is that of the “Red Maples” estate on Ox Pasture Road (postcard image courtesy The Eric Woodward Collection). Beautifully published in Houses of the Hamptons, the estate was designed by Hiss & Weekes for Alfred W. Hoyt and modeled on the Renaissance villas of Italy. It was completed in 1908, but demolished in 1947. It has now been recreated for Mary Ann Tighe.

A passerby will have no idea that any of these replicas are not original because they are not as iconic as, say, Philip Johnson’s Glass House, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. What’s next, Villa Mille Fiore? Dragon’s Head? Meadowmere? Is that what this village wants, to replicate houses long gone and recreate the village aesthetic from years ago? Houses come down due to hurricanes, fire, neglect, and foolishness. The last we can prevent, and should do so ardently. The other losses provide us with windows of opportunity to sensitive and contextual architectural exploration, not reproduction.

[1] Introduction, Architectureproduction, Beatriz Colomina
[2] Chapter 9, Historic Preservation: Curatorial Management of the Built World, James Marston Fitch, p. 208
[3] “A Country House in the Italian Manner,” Matlock Price, Architectural Record, May 1922
[4] Chapter 9, Historic Preservation: Curatorial Management of the Built World, James Marston Fitch, p. 189

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Neglect & the Mystery Hill Street House

There is a house on the south side of Hill Street which is historic and being neglected. If you were on Corrigan Street and drove south without turning on Hill Street, you would run into this house. It has been quite overgrown and abandoned for some time, probably since 1982, but it dates back to descendants of the Sayre family, original settlers of Southampton in 1640. It may have been willed to the Hospital by the last de Rose owners. The Ickworth Exploration company, whoever that is (whose documents were mailed c/o The Morley Agency, a local real estate company), subdivided the large property into five lots in 1984, but this lot, number three, has been stagnant.

Rather than to elaborate on the history and significance of the Sayre family relative to Southampton Village, and the consequential significance of this structure, I’d like to discuss neglect. Neglecting one’s property to the point where it is falling down or easy to prove a hardship to rehabilitate is effectively “demolition by neglect” and there are many other municipalities which have adopted codes penalizing this action, or lack thereof.
The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation says, “Demolition by neglect is defined as the destruction of a building through abandonment or lack of maintenance.” The City of New Orleans says, “The term “Demolition by Neglect” refers to the gradual deterioration of a building when routine or major maintenance is not performed…..A building is also identified as “Demolition by Neglect” if it is open to entry by vandals or vagrants.”

Neglect is contrary to the State’s Environmental Protection Act. In addition “a number of other states have laws specifically addressing demolition by neglect. South Dakota’s statute gives localities the power to prevent demolition by neglect by enacting an ordinance that makes willful neglect of a historic property a misdemeanor.”[1] The City of Goldsboro, North Carolina implemented codes which required the owners to repair the structure, and “in the event of a finding of economic hardship, the finding may be accompanied by a recommendation to relieve the economic hardship. This plan may include, but is not limited to, loans or grants from the City or other public, private or non profit sources, acquisition by purchase, changes in applicable zoning regulations or relaxation of the provisions of this section sufficient to mitigate the economic hardship.”

Just like one is not permitted to keep their car up on blocks on their property, or allow their property to become overgrown or hazardous to anyone’s safety, they should not be able to abandon their real property – meaning the property and all structures and/or improvements on it – so that it is in an indefinite state of disrepair and is left to deteriorate. This is yet another section of our Village codes that needs changing.

Baby steps.

Property Owners (incomplete):
Ickworth Exploration NV, Liber 9364 of deeds, page 104, 5/26/1983
Southampton Hospital Association, Liber 9262 of deeds, page 506, 10/28/1982
Rose de Rose, Susan Rose de Rose, Susan Varnum de Rose, Liber 1728 of deeds, page 19, 8/8/1933, and Liber 2036 of deeds, page 528, 4/22/39
Edward de Rose, Liber 692 of deeds, page 460, August 1909
Emmett & Alice M. Sayre
Capt. Francis Sayre, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236
Francis Sayre, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236
Elias Culver, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236
Jesse Culver, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236
Ichabod Cooper, as per Town Records, book 6, page 236

[1] Demolition by Neglect, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Demolition Consequences Update 2

To all those who signed my petition, I thank you again and assure you I am following this closely. I feel a real responsibility to you for helping me grab the attention of the Village Trustees and truly appreciate your support. Since July 15th, I have continued to find other examples of significant codes implemented by other municipalities, as well as other legal tools (thanks to a legal friend....thanks MD!!!), which I have promptly forwarded to the village for their use in drafting these code changes.

On August 26th I was told that the village attorney was hoping to have an amended Enforcement code section to present to the Trustees in September.

Stay tuned. Fingers crossed!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Green Demolitions

There is a relatively new company out there making the best of the tragic demolition trend.

(Photo above is a Clive Christian Edwardian English kitchen someone would have demolished, resold for 50-80% off.)

Green Demolitions is a non-profit group supporting addiction recovery programs through recycling luxury kitchens and household fixtures. Donors receive tax benefits and the environment is spared significant waste and lives are changed through the work of All Addicts Anonymous.

Green Demolitions was started 21 years ago by a recovered addict whose life was saved through an addiction recovery program. “I was a teenage drug and alcohol abuser raised in Poughkeepsie, NY and suffered two bouts of serious suicidal depression before I got my recovery.

I was in the radio business for 18 years, winding up as the Senior Marketing Manager for two Clear Channel Providence, RI radio stations (WWRX-FM and B101). My recovery happened in the middle of my radio career - five years later WWRX-FM became America's first independent "Imus in the Morning" syndicated station. My radio sales flourished and I earned enough money in the next four years to give back substantially. I left radio in 1998 to pursue fund-raising for the outreach projects that saved my life. In my first year I had meetings with foundations and philanthropists in Beverly Hills, San Francisco, San Antonio , West Palm Beach, Golden, CO, etc., etc. The results - travel expenses $20,000 - funds raised $7,500. Luckily I read about a guy in Forbes magazine - Mr. Brewster Kopp of Greenwich, CT. The article was a "Creative Giving" feature. Mr. Kopp, a successful and well-respected businessman, formerly the CFO for Digital Corp., First Bank Boston, etc. The article stated that Mr. Kopp was now dedicating 90% of his time to helping non-profits. So I cold-called him, got an appointment, and he liked our programs. In 1999, I was introduced to one of his foundations and started raising funds for the next two years. Unfortunately, the market crashed in 2001 - so the donations were going to be slim. Shortly after the crash, I drove by the former residence of Farah Pahlavi, the Last Empress of Iran, who had lived in a 10,000 square foot Rockefeller Mansion. The "Demolition in Progress" sign in the driveway intrigued me. The gates were open, so I drove up. The house was gone . . . so I had an idea . . . why not start a demolition donation program and earn the money rather than ask for it. The idea turned into a pilot project resulting in an Greenwich Time feature article in the October 2001 real estate section. 36 people responded. Over the next four years - under the radar screen - the program grew through word-of-mouth from high-end architects (Alex Kaali-Nagy), builders (Scott Hobbs) and kitchen designers (Jim Bilotta). In 2005, I decided to start Green Demolitions with a little "seed money". It was just myself and a part-time administrator. In four years we have grown to thirty-seven employees, three stores in three states (CT, NY, PA) and 36,000 square feet of retail and warehouse. During that time significant funding has been earned for the outreach programs of All Addicts Anonymous (AAA) Those funds have been the catalyst for AAA groups starting all around the country. In addition, 35% of our employees are recovered addicts or family members of recovered addicts. Media coverage? 100% positive press including: The New York Times, CNN, Planet Green, This Old House, and Consumer (to name a few). At Green Demolitions, "green" has three meanings:

Green #1 - Financial gain - everybody saves some "greenbacks" - donors, consumers, and industry pros

Green #2 - Protection for the environment - landfill waste reduction, associated energy costs savings, and forestry preservation

Green #3 - Self-supporting charity "recycling the lives" of addicts of all kinds and their families.
Green Demolitions is the "win-win" nonprofit organization - earning it's own support (96.8% in 2008).
Without you, we would not be here.
Thanks for your support!!!
Keep it Green,
Steve Feldman, President and Founder”

Bookmark and Share

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day

"The highest pleasure to be got out of freedom, and having nothing to do, is labor."
Mark Twain

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Adaptive Reuse

Did you read in the August 19th edition of the Southampton Press, that the demolition of the Hampton Road firehouse will cost $71,500!!!! Holy cow. We are spending $71,500 in order to make way for a green building. Does anyone else see the contradiction in that statement?

I'm okay with the new design for the firehouse except for the odd windows along the staircase that break some of the horizontal datum line features on the elevation. And I’m wary of all the green materials – that they’ll be too plastic looking. But I wish they had adaptively reused the existing structure instead of tearing it down to build something new.

There’s an old brick building on the northeast corner of North Sea Road and Prospect Street (pictured above) that has such wonderful character. It was built before 1902 and used to be one of the Suffolk Light, Heat & Power Co. locations. If you look closely, you can see the lintels in the brickwork identifying where the original doors and window openings were.

There’s another great building (not technically in the Village) on the southwest corner of County Road 39 and Magee Street (pictured above). It’s known as the Rosko Barn.

I often imagine both of these buildings wonderfully renovated and adaptively reused. They could be fire-stations, or an ambulance headquarters, or a grocery stores, or architect/construction company offices, or galleries, ………….Or how about a space for a year-round farmers market? Both properties seem to have ample parking area also. (The Rosko barn happens to be across the street from the proposed Tuckahoe Mall. Eek.)

Have you ever visited the company, Plain-T (interior photo above)? This is a local boutique tea company that imports the finest natural teas and then makes their own artisnal blends ( distributing them throughout the Hamptons. Anyway, they are located off of Powell Avenue, on the north side of the street, just east of Riverhead Building Supply. The area this business is in has a bunch of mechanical auto body shops. If you drive into the development, if you were to go straight, you would drive up a ramp and right into their showroom. This building used to be an ice warehouse (built before 1902), and Plain-T has turned it into a gleaming white and concrete floor gallery like space where they run their business, have tea tastings and host special events. This is a beautiful example of adaptive reuse!

Another great example is the Hamptons State Bank (pictured above) at the intersection of Windmill Lane and North Sea Road. It's a beautiful brick building that was built before 1909 which contained a carpenter's shop and cement storage. It was neglected for a number of years but has become a wonderful viable building today. Far nicer than anything new they could have built.

There are loads of possibilities for old structures in the village to be adaptively reused. Older buildings have great character unlike many of the newer commercial structures built today. I would rather see many of them reused than torn down, wouldn’t you?