Thursday, October 28, 2010

“Chalet de Imer,” 10 John Street

(This one’s for you, Julie! )

If you’re like me, you’ve always wondered about the little house at #10 John Street. It’s such an anomaly on the street and very interesting. I’ve also wondered about its owners when I admire the sculpture in the side yard. At last I found the time to look into this property and my research was very entertaining.

In 1894 this property was a part of larger parcel owned by Albert Jessup Post (1832-1907), along with other nearby property, as an heir of his father, Captain George Post, who “was a whaling captain who made many successful voyages, and was a man of sterling character, of extended information, and a very influential citizen…….In 1853 [Albert] was a teacher in the “North End School.” In 1858 he was elected Town Clerk, and held that office for four years. For forty-one years he was one of the Trustees of the town…….When the “New Southampton” was established in 1894, he was elected President of the village.”[1] Wow. Can you imagine any one government official these days being endeared by the public for so long???
John Street, perhaps named after John Nugent (?), was a road created sometime between 1894 and 1902. In 1909, Albert Post’s executor sold the 10 John Street parcel, at that time extending to Elm Street, to Julius Imer for $1,050. The property was a L-shape, and the part along Elm Street was eventually sold and merged with the house on the southeast corner of Elm and John.
Julius F. Imer (b. 1853) built the house at #10 John Street for himself over the course of three years. He previously lived in North Haven and then on Main Street. He was born in Neuville, a division (canton) of Bern, Switzerland (a fascinating discovery on my part, which you will understand better in the future) and came to this country in 1869. A carpenter by trade, he came to Southampton in 1892. He married his first wife, Maggie Arthur, in Manhattan in 1875, and lost her to illness in 1898.
In constructing the house he used the old timbers from a carpenter shop which he bought on South Main Street (and dismantled I assume) in 1909 from Alfred E. Schermerhorn. “The plans and details are all Swiss, taken from his memory of the old houses in the little Alpine town from which he had come and especially from the very house in which he was born……The house walls are heavily timbered, the spaces being filled in with large stones laid in concrete. The roof was intended to be thatched, but as no one could be found in this section who knew how to thatch a roof, this had to be changed and the roof was shingled….The doors are mostly from the old Cook carpenter shop, hung with heavy old hinges and provided with ancient latches. ….The owner of this wonderful house lives alone. He is his own housekeeper, but takes his meals at a neighbor’s. He has an adopted son out west and a half-brother and a half-sister in the old country; otherwise he is alone in the world………….When the house was first begun it was looked upon with suspicion and alarm by the owners of more pretentious residences in the neighborhood, but as it gradually developed under the hands of the builder, its artistic qualities began to appear till now, in its nearly completed state, it is recognized as the most picturesque structure in the village.”[2]

In 1898, the same year his wife died, Julius Imer is mentioned in the newspaper as having had a large tumor removed from his side. How embarrassing. In 1908 he is mentioned in the Town Book of Records and the newspaper for growing flax on his property, which hadn’t been grown for some 75 years since then. Apparently it had once been a very prevalent grain to grow.
He was a lover of all things old, and/or antique. His house was both made from and filled with all things old. He even possessed renderings of the 1648 Sayre house which he framed out of wood taken from the house, nailed together with nails from the house, and presented to the Suffolk County Historical Society. I wonder if they still have that?
But Julius wasn’t destined to be alone. Sometime after the summer of 1913 he married Ellen Collins (b. 1866), who was also a widow. Her will reflects her adoration for her husband. Happy endings are so nice!

List of Owners (present to past):

David Lee and Andrea V. Brown
D. Denis Anderson & William Sofield (current owner of Balcastle)
Ronald & Jo Ann Caffrey
Margaret J. Satriano Pogglioli
Marguerite V. Collins
William J. Collins
Julius and Ellen Imer
Albert J. Post
George Post

[1]Celebration of the Two Hundred and Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the Town of Southampton, N.Y., June 12, 1915
[2] Southampton Magazine, Summer 1913

Monday, October 25, 2010

Before & After #2: 43 Osborne Ave.

The two photos above show the original house built at 43 Osborne Avenue, and the new house currently being built in its place designed by Lisa Zaloga for Robert & Christine Henry. There is one neighborhood resident that absolutely loves this new house, but many others who don’t. Not because they think the house isn’t nice looking, but rather out of scale with the rest of the street. This house is easily twice the size of the rest of the houses on Osborne Avenue. Not exactly appropriate or harmonious within its context. Oh how I wish they would have renovated and added onto the previous house. There are even some nearby residents who remember the owner of the house, that he built it himself, and that he was a talented woodcarver. Apparently he had designed and built many of the cabinets, bookshelves, and mantels in the house also.

Below are a few other houses on Osborne Avenue, just to show you the general character of the street. It’s a lovely street with great neighbors that actually talk to one another, stop over for coffee, and borrow cups of sugar. Only now there’s a giant elephant in the………area.

UPDATE 1/3/11:
I received a lovely email from the grand daughter of John Sanders. Apparrently the house was not built by John Sanders, but by the Osbornes after which the street was named. When John Sanders purchased the house over 70 years ago, it need a lot of work that he did himself. He closed in the front porch and he built the garage in the back. The reason that he bought the house was because he was from England and the name of the Queen's summer house was called "The Osborne House." As a side note, when his wife saw the house, it need so much work that she sat down and cried. But as he began to fix it up, she began to see what he saw in it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


This brick house, with octagonal tower (roof terrace on top) and battlement embellishments, known as “Balcastle,” was built circa 1910 by and for Joshua Edward Elliston, Jr., known as Edward. It is on the northwest corner of Little Plains and Herrick Road and is often included on house tours. It is currently for sale (4+ million) and I stopped in during a recent open house. It was a complete pleasure to tour and the real estate representatives didn’t mind those sight-seeing at all. If there are additional open houses, and you have 10-15 minutes, you really should see it.

Edward Elliston was a builder, cabinetmaker, and woodcarver who was born in Southampton in 1870 and died here in 1951. He was 6’-7” tall, a giant even by today’s standards. He was Irish with both parents being born in Ireland. His wife, Emma Rose, 14 years older than Edward, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, as she was the daughter of a whaling captain. In 1916 Edward and Emma lived on North Sea Road just south of where Noyac Road runs into it, on the way to Conscience Point. Edward grew up on North Main Street, just south of North Sea-Mecox Road. They did not have children. Emma’s family owned extensive property in Southampton, and when she died in 1933, Edward inherited it, and donated much of it to the Town, part of which created the Emma Rose Elliston Park in North Sea, where one can access a fresh pond for a dip in the summer.

There are numerous Ellistons all over the south fork of Long Island. Just recently I researched the property history for the African American Museum of the East End and found that property dating back to a large farm owned by Samuel and Eliza Elliston. Turns out this is probably Edward’s uncle.

Edward built at least two of his brothers’ houses on North Main Street, the two closest to County Road 39, on the east side of the street. The northern most one, with a gambrel roof and a large contemporary addition, was for Andrew George Elliston and his family, and the house to its south was for John Elliston and his family.

“Ansley Elliston recalls that it was to have been a school and that Dr. Charles Jagger, a Southampton man and “a Ph.D from Princeton” was to have joined in the venture as the instructor. Others have suggested that the two men had a “falling out,” which may have accounted for he castle’s unfinished state. Sme insist that there never were any plans for a school at all.”[1] Ansley was Edward’s niece, Andrew George Elliston’s daughter, and Dr. Jagger lived across the street from them, on North Main (an area known as “Jaggertown”). Ansley also explained that the large windows originally intended for the rest of the house, were installed as the enclosure to the gazebo in the rear yard of the property, which was Edward’s studio, and now acts as amazing guest accommodations.

Edward Elliston died after complications resulting from a car crash. His Model T coupe was broadsided at the intersection of Sandy Hollow and North Sea Roads in 1951. He was 81.
The house is currently owned by architect and designer, Bill Sofield, who redecorated the interiors beautifully.
[1] “Craftsman’s Legend Lives In Southampton Landmark,” by Mary Cummings, The Southampton Press, 11/22/84

Monday, October 18, 2010

Women in Preservation: the real meaning of "house keeping"?

No offense men, but I just had to share this post, from October 14th and from the My Time Machine blog by Sabra Smith, one of the blogs on my blog list (goodness, that's a lot of blogs in one sentence). I of course, found the post inspirational. Enjoy!

Here is the link to see the photos attached with this article, or to peruse the blog:

"Little old ladies in tennis shoes. (Also known as “LOLITaS” I’ve been told.)
Junior League, Colonial Dames, Daughters of the American Revolution.
Heiresses with a connection to place.

Women are not just the sprinkles on top of the confection that is preservation of place, they are key ingredients. You might see them as berry swirls of
red, white and blue considering the patriotic connections and motivations of days gone by. Yet, far too often, they are the unsung heroines.

Is there something about the female personality that lends itself to the connective, communicative requirements for preservation success?

For years (and even today) women were supposed to know their place was in the home or in the mill or typing pool. Women’s biographies tended toward birth, marriage, children, death because what more of value was there to report? Even at historic sites with compelling women’s history, the tendency is to tell the tale from the man’s point of view, and the house is named for the man who owned it.

For example:
Barrett Wendell (1855-1921), one of Jacob Wendell II’s four sons, inherited the Portsmouth home in 1917 and lived there after his retirement from Harvard University. A well known scholar of English literature, he traveled extensively with his wife, Edith Greenough Wendell (1859-1938). She was very active in local and state organizations.
The end.

“Active in local and state organizations“? Well, the real story is that without Edith Greenough Wendell, one of the finest mansions in New England would be the site of a gas station today.
Here’s to ”Women who saved the day (and the house)” and the story of Edith Wendell’s “house-keeping,” which saved Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s extraordinary Macphaedris-Warner House, built 1716-18 and designated a
National Historic Landmark in 1960.

Mrs. Wendell lived in the
Wendell ancestral home (1789) on Pleasant Street — a house stuffed with family heirlooms and antiques that might have made an ideal house museum. The Wendell Family had a strong sense of documenting its own history, as well as a compelling urge to preserve the heritage of Portsmouth. (Read this fascinating article about the Wendell antiques in the Strawbery Banke collection written by Gerald W. R. Ward and Karen E. Cullity.)

Early in the 20th century, the seaside town began to see changes. The waterfront saw significant commercial development. By 1923 traffic increased with completion of the Memorial Bridge spanning the Piscataqua River to connect Portsmouth to Kittery, Maine. A filling station replaced the Judge John Sherburne House. The same fate might have befallen Warner House (1716-18) at the corner of Daniel and Chapel Streets if not for Mrs. Wendell.
In 1931 with the country still reeling from the ’29 stock market crash, Mrs. Wendell raised $10,000 for the rescue purchase of Warner House.

Named for Captain Archibald Macpheadris who built the house in 1716-18 and for Portsmouth merchant Jonathan Warner, the house is one of the earliest and most elegant brick mansion houses in New England. The dramatic wall murals, featuring Native Americans, are the oldest colonial wall paintings still in place in the United States.
The Warner House opened its doors to the visiting public in 1932 and has served the community as a house museum ever since.

In 1937, William Appleton (founder of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, now
Historic New England) described her effort as “one of the most remarkable instances of preservation work in America.”

Today, like so many historic house museums across the country, the Warner House works hard to maintain the National Historic Landmark building and its collections and may be negatively affected by construction work connected with replacement of the nearby Memorial Bridge (1922).

Will the ladies of Portsmouth and Kittery come to the rescue once again?

Check out Historic New England’s traveling exhibit:
The Preservation Movement: Then and Now. See if you can count how many women were involved in the New England house keeping movement!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

St. Andrew's Dune Church

From The Southampton Press, “Quaint Interesting St. Andrew’s Church; Organized Nearly a Half Century Ago by Our Summer Residents,” October 6, 1927 :

“The Episcopal Church on the Dunes, at the foot of the Town Pond (Agawam Lake), is of interest to any one visiting Southampton for the first time. The church was organized in 1879 by a few of the summer residents and at a time when the popularity of Southampton as a summer resort was just beginning to gain much favor. All the sittings in the church were made free, and, as the corporation organized under the church laws of New York, no pews could ever be rented. The name of St. Andrew’s Dune Church, the corporate title, savors of the ancient town of Dunkirke, which took its name from a church on the dunes. The Southampton church has an interesting history. Its nave was the original Life Saving Station, erected by the United State Government in 1851, and, in 1879, upon completion of a new building by government, it was purchased by Dr. T. Gaillard Thomas. It then stood on the east shore of the pond, or lake. Upon proposal to organize a church on the beach, the building was donated to the congregation, removed to its present site, and located on land set apart for the purpose, by the late C. Wyllys Betts, who had purchased the land at the south end of the pond. The transepts and chancel were subsequently added, and the nave widened, so that the building had more than three times its original capacity, seating about 325 people. So great was the desire to attend that in 1898 the trustees considered a much larger addition, without, however, materially altering its attractive character of architecture.

Many of the most noted preachers of the Episcopal Church and several of the Bishops were early preachers within its walls.

This church is noted for containing more objects of historical interest, perhaps, than any other church of its size in the country. Under the posts that support the four corners of the belfry roof are four curiously carved heads of English oak – an angel, an abbot, a friar and a devil. These heads are part of the original structure of Blythebourne (pronounced Blyboro) Church, Suffolk, England, built in 1442. At the restoration of that church, in 1882…..these ancient heads were presented to St. Andrew’s Dune Church, in recognition of the restoration fund of the English Church by a former trustee, Wyllys Betts.

In the chancel, the side or credence table, which is used to hold the elements before the Communion, is supported by a stone column and a base which formerly adorned one of the doorways of old Netley Abbey, funded by Henry the Second, at Southampton, England, in 1219, an interesting relic of the church of the old Southampton, in chapel of its newer namesake in America. Some of the Communion vessels are also of great value; the cup, or chalice, is of Florentine manufacture of date about 1550, and is adorned with enamels (now much defaced) and an inscribed panel which seems to bear the name of Angelo Nanis, who was an abbot of Vajano, near Florence, at about that period. The plate, or paten, is a curious piece of Irish silver, date 1684, and bearing some antique armorial bearings – perhaps of the noble family of Waterford. The principal Bible and prayer book were printed in the reign of Charles L, and contain petitions for “our soverign, Lord Charles,” and his queen, “Henrietta Maria.”

The church also has memorials of the locality. A fine tablet in the style of the Seventeenth Century commemorates the 250 anniversary of the foundation of Southampton (which was effected in June, 1640), and records the names of the founders of the town, and quotes an extract from their pious declaration of principles.

Memorial windows also enrich the interior and preserve in affectionate remembrance the names of C. Wyllys Betts, Mrs. Henry E. Howland (to whom the church was for many years indebted for leadership in the music) Mrs. Mary E. Holbrook, Miss de Luse, the children of Dr. H. Holbrook Curtis, and two grandchildren of George R. Schieffelin, Esq., the children of his daughters. A beautiful brass cross on the choir wall bears an inscription showing that it was erected by loving friends to the memory of Jay Schieffelin.”

Additional information about Lifesaving Stations, by Julie Greene: The original stations were unmanned and built to house only life-saving apparatus. They were run by volunteer crews from November to April. Originally overseen by the Treasury Department, the stations were not officially recognized until the mid-1870s, thanks to Sumner I. Kimball, the department’s head. He appropriated $200,000 for the construction of stations, employing six-man crews year round at all stations and establishing guidelines and regulations. Rigorous physicals were mandatory and only the most capable men were hired for the job.

By the late 1870s, Life Saving Stations were dotted along the eastern seaboard approximately five miles apart and linked by telephone about 10 years later. The post at Mecox was built in 1877. All of them were built using the same blueprints/design.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Columbus Day

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." ~Marcel Proust

A little background about today's holiday from

"Columbus Day is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. It was unofficially celebrated in a number of cities and states as early as the 18th century but did not become a federal holiday until the 1937. For many, the holiday is a way of both honoring Columbus' achievements and celebrating Italian-American heritage. Throughout its history, Columbus Day and the man who inspired it have generated controversy, and many alternatives to the holiday have appeared in recent years."

And here's an interesting 4 minute video about Christopher Columbus, the man and the myths:

Wouldn't it be terrific if the East End had its own holiday celebrating the day Southampton was founded? That day when the first voyage from Lynn, Massachusetts arrived somewhere near Conscience Point, I think in mid-May of 1640? (Postcard Image of Conscience Point Rock Courtesy Eric Woodward Collection) We could call it Founders Day or Settlers Day. We may not get the day off of work, but it would be a great opportunity for all local community organizations to collectively celebrate the bounty, heritage, and history of Long Island's East End in one giant festival type event.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Jagger House," 310 North Main Street

The area north of the railroad tracks on North Main Street, historically referred to as “Jaggertown,” has many lovely homes that still exist with great history behind them. One of them is 310 North Main Street (pictured above).

Built circa 1870 for William Jagger and sometimes referred to as the “Jagger House” (though there were many), this house survives as a simple Stick Style-ish design as it is more restrained than an exemplary version such as 75 South Main Street. Even so, it has lovely Stick Style embellishments, such as the jerkin headed windows, the scallop edging to the vertical clapboard siding on the second story, the entry and first story window canopies, and the stick-work in the gable end. To top it off, the accessory structure in the rear is an adorable miniature version of the main house (not pictured).

“There was a great tribe of Jaggers who lived in Southampton, L. I. The first one was John Jagger, who settled there about 1641, and said to perhaps be a brother of the first Jeremiah Jagger of Stamford, Conn. (Authority: "Gen. Diet. of the First Settlers of New England," by Jas. Savage, Vol. 2, p 534.)” Long Island

William Jagger (1823-1910) was a farmer that earned a respectable living, owned a large property on the east side of North Main Street and had many houses built there (like A Butler’s Manor to the south). He was married to Abigail Matilda Fanning (1834-1921) and they had five children, three boys and two girls. Both of them were native to Southampton, as were many generations of their ancestors. William Jagger’s ancestor, John, was one of our town’s original settlers in 1640.

Other Jaggers that lived in this area circa 1902, giving the neighborhood its nickname, were Henry C., Walter L., Sophie, Mrs. Agnes Harlow, J. M., and Charles Jagger.

Property Owners (incomplete):
Diane R. Eckel, Liber 8827 of deeds, page 461, 5/27/1980
Francis Fuller, per 1979 Inventory
Frederick Myron & Ethel L. Fuller, Liber 2917 of deeds, page 311, 1/27/1949
Arthur W. Tunnell, Liber 2909 of deeds, page 12, 12/29/1948
Flora Jagger, Liber 764 of deeds, page 61, 3/18/1911 (two thirds of property)
Archie L. Jagger, Liber 760 of deeds, page 359, 3/21/1911 (one third of property)
Agnes Harlow Jagger, per the E. Belcher Hyde 1902 map
Frederick Howell, Liber 260 of deeds, page 206, 12/17/1881
Mrs. Nettie L. Bishop, Liber 239 of deeds, page 25, 2/15/1879 (daughter)
William & Abigail M. Jagger

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Cars are Changing the Streetscapes

In August of 2009 the village codes were changed via Local Law No. 4 to give the Chief Building Inspector the authority to allow off-street parking in front and side yards where before it was prohibited. It seems that supplemental residential activities had become the highest priorities to property owners and that garages, cars, and parking spaces were among the lowest. People wanted their cars in the front, even out on the street, so as to free up the rest of the property for their yards, pool, pool house, gazebo, shed, deck/patio, etc. In essence, when they are “living” there, they don’t want to see their cars.

Well neither do we.
Now we see more and more cars in the front yards and even on the street which is a suburban trend (along with front facing garages that are not detached and set back in the rear) and contradictory to the character of Southampton Village. Some are even going so far as to create hedged in corals for cars so they are less visible. Garages are being used as storage or being converted into pool cabanas and cars are being relegated to the last possible placement on the property. There are even cars on the street because the driveway has become the basketball court. (I’m not anti-basketball courts (great familytime), just put your car in the garage!)

Section 116-14-C of our code dictates that each house shall have two parking spaces. If the house has more than three bedrooms, there needs to be another space for each additional bedroom. So for a six bedroom house there would need to be five spaces. Two can be in a garage, but then three more need to be provided. And now they can just line up in the driveway or in front of the house.

Gone are the days when a lovely carriage would arrive pulling into a driveway to arrive at the house, drop off the passengers, and continue along to be PUT AWAY in the carriage house, thereby not marring the beauty of the house’s face to the street.

The loveliness of our village’s streets should not be marred with cars, no matter what the make or model. Most of us can’t have everything. Parking should stay out of the public’s view and relegated to garages and rear yards. When choosing between the patio, pool, pool house, shed, or playground, something will have to be sacrificed in order to keep the street vistas lovely.
Our zoning codes should not be modified to accommodate building trends or preferences that are not in harmony with the character of our historic village.