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

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