Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Am Not Neglecting You

To my precious readers and fans, I am not neglecting you intentionally. I am finishing up a book about historic architecture in our beloved village and unfortunately the deadline coincides with the holidays! Argh! I should pick back up the posting pace about February. Stick with me!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Say Goodbye to 186 Cresent Ave, Water Mill

Here I am again posting about a house that is not in Southampton Village, but I just can't help try to save some of these historic treasures that will be torn down before year's end.  Unfortunately, the demolition of historic architecture is a natural part of the evolutional change of the Hamptons environs, at least thus far, but it pains me so nonetheless.
186 Crescent Lane is a historic home that was relocated from the Halsey farm (Green Thumb) just north on Halsey Lane sometime between 1916-1936 (1938 aerial below). It is a lovely traditional home that retains a significant degree of integrity, with original windows, siding and other details. I particularly like the board shutters on the west side and the charismatic bay windows.

The front and rear (facing Mecox Bay) of the house are painted yellow, while the sides and gambrel-roofed one-story wings are white. The site is breath-taking, but that's probably what's also sealing its fate. Proving that others believed this structure to be architecturally significant as well, the home was featured in American Home in May of 1936.
Because the house has been moved it is difficult to determine its age with the use of historic maps but a quick tour of the interior and its framing would probably confirm a mid-1700s construction date. The style and scale of the home reminds me of those that march along Remsenburg's South Country Road as well as the Foster house on First Neck Lane in Southampton Village.
Meetings with a widely employed building moving service have confirmed that this historic structure can be relocated. Wouldn't it make a lovely Christmas gift??? It may not fit in one's stocking, but the skeleton keys to the old front door certainly would!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

House Moving is Getting Popular Again!

The New York Times recently posted a great article about the rising popularity in the country of relocating existing buildings! Click here to read:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hedge Rows, 484 First Neck Lane

This property is immediately north of The Mallows (with striped awnings, currently owned by television news anchor Chuck Scarborough) and immediately south of Mocomanto, two of at least 10 summer cottages built by the Betts family in the late 1800s. It was located at 484 First Neck Lane and known as "Hedge Rows" but no longer survives. Another home enjoys the site today (beige stucco), overlooking Lake Agawam and owned by David Bohnett. David is the head of his own foundation which strives to "[improve] society through social activism." He previously co-founded an Internet-based media and e-commerce company which was publicly traded on NASDAQ and subsequently acquired by Yahoo!Inc. He is also the Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, a trustee of amfAR and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

There are few known surviving images of Hedge Rows, most of them post cards, and none of them featuring the home. The image at the top of this post is an enlarged detail of one of the many postcard views across Lake Agawam published in the early 1900s. Eric Woodward, a local architect, has an immense and invaluable collection of these postcards for which us 'history types' are constantly appreciative.

Charles Wyllys Betts (1845-1887), a lawyer in the same firm with his famous patent lawyer brother, Frederic Henry Betts (1843-1905), bought a 4 acre stretch along the western shore of Lake Agawam, then known as the Town Pond, from Albert J. Post in 1878 for $750. He and his brother bought practically all the acreage at the southwest end of Agawam Lake, even along the Atlantic in the late 1800s and created a quasi-compound of summer cottages for themselves and family members. At the very same moment which C. Wyllys bought this parcel, his brother's wife, Mary "Louise" Holbrook Betts (b.1847) purchased the lot immediately to the north - another 4 acres - from Mr. Post for $900 on which she promplty had Mocomanto built.

Nine years later C. Wyllys died and bequeathed his parcel to his sister, Sarah Eliot [Betts] Foster (b.1841). Within a year's time, Mrs. Frederic H. Betts, Sarah's sister-in-law, had an agreement drawn up ensuring that no structure would be built on Sarah's parcel east of her Mocomanto. See, Mrs. Betts was accustomed to her lovely view to the southeast, across the little inlet on Sarah's property, to the Dune Church at the foot of the pond. The Betts family was instrumental in the establishment of this church (several Tiffany windows in memorial to the Betts family survive) and Mrs. Betts was even known to ride in an authentic Italian gondola to worship services in the mornings. She didn't want anything interfering with this vista. Sarah likely didn't care, she lived in Buffalo after all.

In 1892 Sarah sold her undeveloped property to Walter George Oakman Sr. (1845-1922), a contemporary to the Betts brothers, and he built a summer cottage.

The home's architecture was in the Colonial Revival style with some Folk Victorian or Queen Anne influence. It was a two-story structure with hipped roof and dormers. it had symmetrical side-flanking chimneys and windows with shutters. Its most decorative feature was its full-width one-story porch which even extended beyond each end of the home and was decorated with gable ends and fretwork. Interestingly, the rear of this house faced northeast, almost directly at Mocomanto, rather than across the pond or toward the ocean.

Walter G. Oakman Sr. was described as a "railroad man" due to his involvement with just about any and all railroad companies that existed in his lifetime. Ultimately he also became the Chairman of the board of the Guaranty Trust Company of New York as well as other notable board appointments. Sadly though, when he married his wife, Eliza "Bessie" Conkling in 1879, her father, a New York senator, did not attend the ceremony of his only child, or give her away. The New York Times reported, "It is understood that he was opposed to his daughter marrying Mr. Oakman, who is a worthy gentleman, but possessing no great wealth." How shallow and ultimately short-sighted, for he did quite well for himself and his family. Perhaps his fortune even eventually rivaled the Senator's!

Walter and Bessie had two daughters and a son together. Their son, Walter Jr., was wounded twice during the World War, awarding him a Distinguished Service Order for gallantry.

In 1904 the property was acquired by Alvin W. Krech (1858-1928) who supposedly gave the premises its name, "Hedge Rows," and whose family continued to own the home for the next 51 years. A self-made man, Alvin William Krech was born in Missouri and began his career working for a flour mill but ultimately became a well-known figure in the banking and railroad industry as well as a supporter of the New York Metropolitan Opera and Philharmonic Society. He died suddenly in 1928 of a heart attack while at work. At that time he was the Chairman of the Board of the Equitable Trust Company.

The Krech family must have witnessed Hedge Rows' demise. As this post stated earlier, the home no longer exists but it isn't known exactly why. According to aerial views available online, it disappeared sometime between 1941-1954. I'm guessing from fire rather than a storm or neglect. Time will tell.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Help Save "Antiquity!"

The image above is of a rare and valuable 1740s home named "Antiquity" at 9 Quantuck Lane in the Village of Quogue. Unfortunately, this historic structure's days are limited. Any old house lovers out there with some vacant land?

According to the Southampton Town Historian, Zachary Studenroth, "Deacon Thomas Cooper (1710-1782) built the original house in the 1740s at the northeast corner of Quogue Street and Lamb Avenue. In 1834 the house on 100 acres was acquired by John F. Foster, and by the late 1800s it was sold to Mrs. Josiah P. Howell, who added a large, 3-story wing and rn it as a boardinghouse known as the Foster House. The large wing was later destroyed by fire, and the original house was moved to its present location on Quantuck Lane, where smaller wings were built to the side and rear."

The Cooper homestead (Antiquity) is significant not only because of its age, but also because it is one of the earliest homes to have been built in Quogue, because of its large size, and because of its association with early Quogue settlers (Coopers, Fosters, Herricks and Howells). The house is a full 2-story, 5-bay house with center door, center chimney and flanking windows making it one of the largest surviving homes of the Colonial period in the area. It retains a very high level of integrity and is in very good condition despite the fact that it has been virtually abandoned for many years now (just look at the fireplaces and the beautiful floors!). Interestingly, the main volume of the house is in much better shape than the later additions that were added.

But here's the problem: the current owner of the property, which is 3.5 acres, wanted to subdivide the parcel into two halves, tear down Antiquity, and then build a house on each of the newly created lots. However, because the local codes require a minimum lot size of 2 acres in this area, the owner needed a vairance to subdivide the property. Also, many in the village were voicing their concern about Antiquity's demolition. So the owner said he woudl either pay for Antiquity to be moved to someone who wanted it on their property, or renovate it turning it into one of his two houses, as long as he was given permission to subdivide his lot.

Well, Quogue said no. (Grrrr!) Sounded like a win-win solution to me. Antiquity gets saved either way (and to the benefit of the identity and character of the community) and the owner gets to subdivide his property. As another interested party put it, "the downside of losing such a historic property outweighs the downside of letting [the owner] split the acreage. I would have thought the property could have been split with specific square-footage limitations on the two new lots....," right?

Now, as there is not longer any incentive for the owner to save Antiquity (a name that Mrs. Howell gave to the house), he has rescinded his offer to pay for the relocation of the buiding. He remains however willing to give it away, and will also contribute an amount equal to the cost of having it demolished toward it being moved, but that's where his offer stops.

If something doesn't happen very soon, the 1740s homestead, a Southampton Town, and especially Quogue treasure, will be lost before the end of the year, so that the owner will not incur another year's worth of real estate taxes.

Can anyone help? How much more is the cost to move the house than to demolish it? I know there's a lovely young couple nearby that would love to have the house, but without financial assistance to first partially clear their wooded lot, then move the house, they can't swing it. Can anyone help them with the clearing? Maybe then the owner of the house and Dawn House Moving can work something out? I can't be the only problem-solver out there; I know "where there's a will, there's a way!"

I know we all here these stories over and over again. We live in a time, and/or a place which doesn't seem to have a strong attachment to the rich history of the area, or not enough anyway. I have to say though, I'm really surprised this is happenning in Quogue, a village in which a significant amount of its historic structures survive, without governmental requirement. I would have thought that of all places, Quogue would have a much stornger desire to protect Antiquity. Is this a sign of what's ahead for Quogue? Of a changing mentality there? Goodness, I hope not.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Residence of Mrs. Sarah Lewis

In January of 1888 Mrs. Sarah Lewis purchased property at 134 Wyandanch Lane from Mr. & Mrs. James A. Hildreth and had a fine home built which still exists today. It is a beautiful two-and-a-half story Shingle style home painted white with cedar shingle siding and a Colonial style entry with paired Tuscan columns and an elliptical gabled arch. The fanlight (transom) over the entry door mimics this elliptical curve nicely. The house has a gambrel roof with gorgeous proportions, first and second floor bay windows, and marching attic levle gabled dormers with half-round windows. Glancing down its axial driveway, it is a lovely sight. The home and grounds are well-maintained and command a nice view of Old Town Pond to the rear/east.

Mrs. Sarah Holmes (Edwards) Lewis (1810-1895) was the widow of Reverend John Nitchie Lewis, but more importantly, the great-great-grand-daughter of Dr. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), a reverend, theologian, and noted missionary to Native American Indians. His portrait is above. According to Wikipedia, "Edwards is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian, and one of America's greatest intellectuals. Edward's theological work is very broad in scope, but he is often associated with his defense of Reformed theology, the metaphysics of theoloical determinism, and the Puritan heritage. Recent studies have emphasized how thorougly Edwards grounded his life's work on conceptions of beauty, harmony, and ethical fittingness, and how central The Enlightenment was to his mindset." He was also the author of several books, including The Life of David Branerd. Shortly after becoming president of Princeton University (then known as the College of New Jersey) he died, supposedly from small pox. And, oh yeah, he was also Aaron Burr's grandfather (3rd Vice-President of America).

Rev. & Mrs. John Lewis had seven children, one of which was Sarah Edwards Lewis (1843-1928). She was also the subsequent owner of the home. Naturally, given her paternal and maternal backgrounds so rooted in religious missionary work, she became a noted member of the First Presbyterian Church here in the Village as well as a Shinnecock Indian aide. She never married.

You have to wonder if given the families association with the Indians, there is some connection with how the street got its name? Or Lewis Street for that matter?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Residence of Samuel Longstreth Parrish

This beautiful Shingle Style home, at 409 First Neck Lane, is currently known as “White Fence” and was designed by McKim, Mead, and White for Samuel L. Parrish in 1889. Featured in the monograph of the well known architectural firm, “The Parrish house illustrates the synthesis of American federalist, Long Island vernacular, high Victorian, and Greek revival elements typical of the later wood houses of McKim, Mead & White, as well as the emerging classicism that characterized all of the firm’s work after 1887. The house is a symmetrical two story structure with a hipped roof and an entry porch which spans the entire front fa├žade and culminates at each end with a round gazebo, above which each second story window is slightly projected. The driveway used to be a half-circle allowing visitors to arrive at the center of the front porch between paired Tuscan columns and a gabled roof with a circular shingle pattern detail. Straight above the entry the eye is drawn to a paneled dormer with paired 8 over 1 double hung windows flanked with Tuscan pilasters and topped with a Chippendale inspired swan-neck pediment open at the top where a turned urn is then inserted. The rest of house’s roof is embellished with brackets at the eave and hipped dormers.

Samuel Longstreth Parrish (1870-1932) is perhaps one of the most recognized historic names in Southampton Village, and rightly so. He was very active in Village life and a great patron of many community endeavors and organizations, the re-envisioning of Shinnecock Hills including the creation of Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art, the Art Village, the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, and of course, the Parrish Art Museum (originally, The Southampton Museum of Art). Samuel was from a Philadelphia Quaker family and was a lawyer who moved to New York in 1877. According to David Goddard, in his wonderful new book, Colonizing Southampton, “Lawyers had become an important professional status group in New York by the 1870s where previously they had gained little serious attention. Now they were closely linked to the ascendant classes that controlled industrial, merchant, and finance capital and had become indispensable in facilitating the legal complexities and dealings of increasingly large corporations.”

Samuel bought the property along with his sister Hetty and his mother Sarah in 1888 from Edward P. and Mary F. Huntting for $5,400. Sarah lived in the house for five years or so until her death in 1895 after which it was rented as a summer cottage until being purchased in by new owners in the 1940s. Samuel himself lived in the Captain Rogers house, now the headquarters of the Southampton Historical Museum.

A carriage house (#395 First Neck Lane) also survives on the property and has since been converted into a residence in its own right. Not long ago, it was approved for demolition because it is not visible from a public right of way but so far it still survives, and hopefully one day soon that will no longer be an acceptable reason to destroy an historic resource. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Hawthorne House," The Residence of George & Julia Leary

There used to be a summer estate named "Hawthorne House" (pictured above) right where a new home has been constructed on Meadowmere Lane. The new home is a virtual copy of an historic estate named "Ten Acre" which still survives and is located just north on Ox PastureRoad (photo below).

Hawthorne House, which obviously no longer exists, was built in 1920 (coincidentally the same year as Ten Acre) for George Leary by John Lowrie, Inc. Lowrie also built the high school, which is now Southampton Town Hall. In 1920, the Hawthorne House property spanned the distance between Halsey Neck Pond all the way west to Halsey Neck Lane (Meadowmere Place didn't exist) and encompassed approximately 25 acres. (1938 aerial below).

George Leary bought the property in 1919 from Frank and Louise White, who inherited it from George Gilbert White (1819-1893), a town trustee and a prominent village figure. The home was built in the formal Georgian style and was large and stately with many accessory buildings and manicured gardens. The main house was set back from the road and more centrally located on the property. It was clad in brick, had wood doors and windows, a flat roof with parapet walls, a roof garden, and a central cupola (image at top).

George Leary (1869-1942), an engineer and builder of drydocks, was the president of Morris & Cummings Dredging Company, established in 1823, which was said to be the oldest in the country. It built navy piers in Norfolk, Virginia, docks on Staten Island, and dredging work for Chelse Piers and South Brooklyn. There was even a steamer ship named George Leary which collided with a propeller boat in 1865 but did not sink.

George was married to Julia May Crofton (d.1935) "who was honored with the title 'Lady of the Holy Sepulchre' by Pope Benedict XV for special services to the Catholic Church," and was also frequently referred to as 'Countess Leary.' In 1927 George and Julia went through a very public separation and battle over infidelity, property, and wealth, but eventually made amends.

A descendant of George and Julia recently found this blog and contacted me. (I just love when that happens!) The Crofton-Leary family is ripe with entertaining stories which are bound to make it into this blog one of these days. Or maybe a book?

Naturally the Hawthorne estate included accessory structures. The carriage house was located, logically, right along Meadowmere Road, and was similarly clad. Later it was covered in stucco and altered as it was converted into a home (photo below). The carriage house no longer survives.

But I recently discovered another accessory structure that does! In the 1954 aerial below (where the main house is now gone), nestled next to the egg-shaped western garden you can see another building (white) to the west that was accessed both from Meadowmere Lane to the north and from Halsey Neck Lane to the west. Its still there, and it looks as if time has stood still.

Built circa 1940, perhaps this was the caretakers home, appropriately situated next to the manicured gardens. Below is an image of it today. Driving by a thousand times, you wouldn't be inclined to stop and say, "Oh yes, that was the caretaker's cottage to George Leary's Hawthorne House." You'd be more likely to say, "Look at that sad little house surrounded by mansions."

What gave it away? One day last fall I was visiting a friend that was in town for a week or so, and she was staying in this house. I went to meet her one morning, and when I pulled into the driveway I was immediately struck by the moldings surrounding the entry door and the windows in the center. They are very elaborately carved, with fluted pilasters on each side, panels below, and dentil moldings above. A little elaborate for a non-descript ranch. Then it dawned on me: this is the Hawthorne House's caretakers cottage. And I tell you, it hasn't changed a bit. I'm sure that won't last much longer, especially as the rest of the property's history has been obliterated. And to this day I haven't found out why the Hawthorne House was even demolished. I know I'll figure it out one day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Summer Home of Samuel E. Tillman, 81 Halsey Neck Lane

I have always admired this house, sandwiched between Claverack and Westover at the top of Halsey Neck Lane. Driving by dozens if not hundreds of times, I have found it to be such a stately home with a grand but not fussy presence. The owners over the years have seemed determined to keep up with its endless maintenance requirements, but they must have given up, or other circumstances arose, because this estate was sold for a pretty penny last April.

Built circa 1900 for Brigadier General Samuel Escue Tillman, the house is in the Dutch Colonial Revival Style with cross gambrel roof and dormers. It has nine-over-one double hung windows with louvered shutters (many of which seem mysteriously upside down), a three-bay wide front porch with paired Doric columns topped with a beautiful balustrade decorated with turned urns over each post. The wide entry door has sidelights with beautiful leaded glass divisions and is accentuated by the wide dormer above it on the second story with Chippendale inspired swan-neck pediment open at the top.

Samuel Escue Tillman (October 3, 1847–June 24, 1942) was an astronomer, engineer, military educator, and career officer in the United States Army who spent 30 years teaching at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In addition to writing for periodicals on a wide range of subjects and authoring several influential textbooks on chemistry and geology, in 1917 Tillman was recalled from previous mandatory retirement to serve as superintendent of the United States Military Academy for the duration of ……World War I.” (Wikipedia)

Samuel was born in Tennessee and raised with at least five siblings on a plantation during the Civil War. In 1887 he married his wife Clara and in 1889 they had daughter Clara Katherine Delaplaine Tillman. In 1919 she married John F. Martin Jr. who was the Second Secretary to the American Embassy in London at the time. Both marriages were officiated by the same Reverend.
Samuel retired in 1911 settling in Princeton, New Jersey but continued to write. After being reinstated from retirement in 1917, he died nearly 30 years later at this lovely home on Halsey Neck Lane which was then owned by his daughter.

One of his brothers, A. H. Tillman, was the United States District attorney for awhile.
Hopefully the new owners are interested in preserving and sensitively improving the property, without removing a significant chunk of its soul as others have done in the recent past.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Mon Repos," The Home of Judge Monson

This lovely Shingle Style home was built in 1899 for Alonzo Castle Monson (1822-1902) and named "Mon Repos" which means "my place of rest" in French.
Alonzo C. Monson was a Yale and Columbia Law graduate. At the age of 23 he was a postal clerk in New York City where his brother-in-law, Robert H. Morris, was the postmaster, and his brother, marcena Monson Jr., was the assistant postmaster. Four years later he went west to Claifornia and became a judge. The San Francisco Alta claimed, "No more capable or efficient judge ever sat upon the bench in California." In 1857 he started his journey back east and sailed on the S. S. Soora after losing his house and his money in a famous poker game. He was lucky to survive the trip. At Panama he transferred to the S. S. Central America which headed straight into a hurricane. By the evening of Thursday, September 10th, "the seas were so rough that most people were sick in their cabins. Judge Alonzo Castle Monson later recalled that "the evening games of cards and other pastimes for diversion and amusement usual in the cabin were dispensed with. This must have been a disappointment to the judge, an inveterate gambler. Earlier during the voyage, Commander Herndon had been Monson's partner at whist; but on this night the commander had more important matters on his mind." (Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea) The storm instensified, the ship began to take on water causing its engines to fail and the passengers were forced to bail water, but without success. "Knowing the situation was hopeless, Captain William Lewis Herndon managed to hail a passing ship, the brig Marine, and one hundred persons, including all but one of the women and children aboard, were safely transferred to the other ship. Time and conditions would not allow for any more transfers, however, and shortly after 8 pm on September 12, the Central America began making its quick descent to the bottom of the ocean....In all, 153 persons were rescued, while approximately 425 lost their lives. Also lost were hundreds of bags of mail and the $1,219,189 in gold." (Columbus-America Discovery Group vs. Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co., 1992)
After building "Mon Repos," in 1901 Judge Monson purchased the large lot on the southwest corner of Cooper's Neck Lane and Great Plains Road with the intention of building but died before he was able to, less than a year later at the age of 80. That site would later become the location of the enormous and famous "Mille Fiore."
Judge Monson never married and did not have children. He was at one time president of the Knickerbocker Club and apparrently even one of its founders. He was also a member of the Metropolitan Club and president and treasurer of the American Jockey Association. His sister, Ann Eliza Morris, was married to Robert Hunter Morris, mayor of New York for three consecutive terms as well as his postmaster position previously mentioned. Upon Judge Monson's death, he left his entire estate to his grand-nephew, Monson Morris, and his grand-nieces, Helen Van Cortlandt Morris and Caroline S. Reboul.
It is erroneously believed that "Mon Repos" was built for Margaret Carnegie, only daughter of Andrew Carnegie, famous philanthropist and industrialist, but there is much evidence to prove that a misconception. First, the property was developed by Judge Monson. Second, Margaret Carnegie was only 2 years old when the house was built. Last, Margaret spent her summers in Scotland at Skibo Castle with her parents. Those with great wealth often have many homes, but Andrew Carnegie wasn't 'showy' or frivolous with his means, preferring to build libraries and other community amenities instead.
The next owner was a Carnegie though, but it was Virginia Beggs Carnegie (1878-1952). She was the wife of Thomas Morrison Carnegie Jr., Andrew Carnegie's nephew. She and her husband renamed the home "Clyden," after the Clyde river in Scotland near where Andrew Carnegie was born.
Florence Nightingale Carnegie Perkins (1879-1962) was the home's third owner. She was the 7th of 9 children and Andrew's niece. Known by her family as "Aunt Floss," she married Frederick Curtis Perkins, a lawyer, in 1901. She spent most of her life on Cumberland Island, Georgia which the Carnegie's owned. "Floss was unpredictable, edgy, a flighty sort of woman. She smoked long before it was acceptable for women. Family members said they didn't know how Frederick put up with her. A story says that she once papered a bedroom in the Grange [on Cumberland Island] in dollar bills and that her relatives made her take it down..." (Cumberland Island: Strong Women, Wild Horses) Her son owned the home next but was then the last Carnegie to do so.
The home is now occupied by its 7th owner, since 2001. It survives today for all of us to enjoy, seems well-maintained and often occupied.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steeple Change?

The latest historic preservation scandal in our lovely Village is that the First Presbyterian Church of Southampton wants to, in essence, put a cell phone tower in its steeple. This historic structure was built in 1843 and is one of the most well known icons in the community. So far there have been two or three public hearings regarding this proposal in front of the Village's Architectural Review Board, and it's not over yet.
Cell phone towers continue to be a persuasive source of income for churches, fire stations, etc. and in these days of economic struggle, who can blame anyone for creatively trying to battle their financial woes? And the Presbyterian Church sure has tried to be creative, but they may need to go back to the drawing board.
Representatives of the cellular components are proposing to dismantle the 168 year old steeple, and some say even store it in the basement for possible reinstallation one day. Then they would replicate the steeple with Styrofoam and fiberglass and other materials that more easily allow for cellular transmission through them. After that, 8 cellular antennas would go inside. So, what do you think?
Wait, there's more. There's the whole issue of the clock and the health of its keeper. In 1871 a clock made by E. Howard & Company was added to the steeple and works to this day. It is thought of as the "Town Clock." Since its installation, its timeliness requires that it be re-winded every 8 days which has happened consistently to this day, more or less. But while the cellular elements are not harmful to the environment, from what I hear, they may be harmful to the steward of the clock, who would be exposed to something that these components are made of, or emit, to a higher and unsafe degree. Well, that's no good!
While I am sympathetic to the church's desires, I think this application should be denied. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation suggest that a building's original features can only be considered for replacement if they are too deteriorated to salvage and that doesn't seem to be the case here. I would rather see a cell tower somewhere else on the property - perhaps designed as a tree or flag pole - than the church's original fabric toyed with, setting a dangerous precedent for future applications. We'll see what the ARB decides.
Postcard image courtesy of the Southampton Historical Museum.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Just after I wrote the post about 207 Meetinghouse Lane, I discovered two other houses that look just like it.

First, one Saturday while out perusing garage/yard sales (a great way to tour historic architecture), I came across 187 Meetinghouse Lane, just two doors west of #205. Huh. Almost an identical twin, except that its porch hasn’t been altered, the panes in the triangular window are slightly different, and the second story window over the first floor bay window projection has been replace over the years. #187 also has a few rows of scalloped shingles in the front gable end, whereas #207 seems to have had its shingles either replaced or covered over with new shingles at some point.

Then, on my way home one day, I passed a house I have passed a hundred times: 180 Halsey Street. But for the first time I noticed it was just like those two houses on Meetinghouse Lane. Huh. This one however, is the mirror image of the first two, and also has its front porch intact. But like the others, some of its details have also changed over the years.

Some of you are probably saying, “So what? There are lots of “lookalike” (even facsimile) houses in the Village.” And you would be right. But I can’t help imagining that the builder of all these houses may have been the same person, and if one of the owners, or their neighbors, knows who built one of these houses, they probably know who built the others too. That would be interesting to know, at least to me.

But yes, the same design for a house is often built repeatedly, even way back when, and especially today.

The earliest surviving house in Southampton Village is a salt box, which was the form of most of the East End’s earliest surviving homes. There are also a significant amount of Sear’s kit houses (sold as “Sears Modern Homes” on the East End. Over 70,000 of these were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940. Shipped via railroad boxcars, these kits included all the materials needed to build a house. Many were assembled by the new homeowner and friends, relatives, and neighbors, in a fashion similar to the traditional barn-raisings of farming families.” (wikipedia)

Even today we can find volume after volume of house plan books sold at Barnes & Noble and Home Depot alike. I even remember a client from back when I worked as an architect that came to the office and asked us to build them a house just like they found on page x of a catalog they had, except with a few tweaks of their own.

It wasn’t always, and still isn’t, that architects are behind the construction of every structure. While I believe good architects are beneficial to every construction project, it’s true that many people disagree
and feel that costs can be saved without them. But if many of the Village’s most gorgeous and historic homes didn’t have an architect behind them, then the quality of builders in those days must really have been extraordinary and inspiring to say the least.

The first American architect was Benjamin Latrobe. “Benjamin Henry Boneval Latrobe (May 1, 1764 – September 3, 1820) was a British-born American neoclassical architect best known for his design of the United States Capitol, along with his work on the Baltimore Basilica, the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. Latrobe was one of the first formally-trained, professional architects in the United States, drawing influences from his travels in Italy, as well as British and French Neoclassical architects such as Claude Nicolas Ledoux." (wikipedia)

I think I’ll start a series of ‘Lookalike’ posts, as a sort of quasi-study of architectural prototypes both here in the Village and elsewhere in the Hamptons. I guess that make this post “Lookalikes #1.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Before & After Nos. 6, 7 & 8

Here are three before and after projects for you. I'm not going to scrutinize them ad nauseam but let you judge them for yourself instead. I will offer brief opinions though, of course. This is still my blog after all.
The first is 67 Layton Avenue. Above is the 'before' image, taken almost exactly one year ago; below is the 'after' image, taken last Sunday. I have great difficulty in accepting that this was a "renovation" but that's another issue. As for aesthetics, what do you think? Is this an improvement? It's a lovely home, that's for sure. But since only 10% of its original fabric remains, it's no longer technically a historic resource. If the village's historic district boundaries are ever expanded, this would be a 'non-contributing' property. Think of it this way: you know those places that have a lot of signs pointing out where important architectural treasures once were located, versus others that still have the actual buildings? This property would now only qualify for a sign.
The second is on Captains Neck Lane. Again, the 'before image is above, and the 'after' image is below. No one is crying over the loss of the previous house, but the scale of the new house seems drastically disproportionate with the property. Aesthetically its odd. It has a lot of different components that just don't join together well. I'm sure someone will love it though.
The third is on Little Plains. 'Before' is above; 'After' is below. The 'after' house is much prettier than the one on Captains Neck Lane (even though the barrel vault of the entry porch is a bit Post Modern, and I wish they had hung the shutters with historic hardware). But again, it literally consumes the property compared to most of the surviving older houses in the vicinity.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

499 Hill Street: The Corrigan Home

Just east of the house featured in my last post, this home was built circa 1910.
In 1909 Mrs. E. J. (Marie) Corrigan purchased 33 acres from Almon L. Drake at what is now the northeast corner of Hill and Corrigan Streets. Almon Lawrence Drake (1834-1921) was a farmer, "marketman," and "huckster" which meant a sort of peddler. Back then, Corrigan Street was named Halsey Street because one of the largest property owners in that area was a Halsey (some things never change). Corrigan Street was opened circa 1880.
The home on this property is in the Colonial Revival style, and there are loads of Colonial Revival examples of architecture in Southampton Village as the style more or less spanned the years between 1880 - 1940, also known to be when the Village really exploded as a summer colony.
This home encompasses two large gambrel roofed volumes assembled in a 'T' configuration and has a symmetrical compostion with shed dormers on the front and sides, six over six windows, and east side porch with a flat roof. I especially like the front entry door decorated by its flanking windows and the brackets under the roof overhangs. I think the home would have had chimneys on both sides of the front of the house, like bookends, but because the house is on a corner, the west elevation was given some dressier embellishments. I also love the windows, which mostly seem original. Notice how all of the panes, or divided lights, are all proportionate to each other, regardless of the overall unit size. These are the little clues I wish more designers and builders would notice and continue. As the saying goes, "God is in the details."
Marie S. Lauinboley Corrigan (b.1872) was French, immigrating to the United States in 1889. In 1899 she married Edward J. Corrigan (b.1869), a New Yorker whose parents were Irish and who was a "pottery salesman" before becoming a mason. Before having this home built, they rented on Bowden Square, with their first son and Marie's mother living with them. They went on to have several other children. I can even think of several vital Corrigan families still on the East End today.
Edward died circa 1925, and in 1933 Marie had her acreage subdivided (of course), but she held on to her corner home until selling it 52 years later, in 1961.
Since 1971 the property has been owned by Bruce R. Grier (b.1935), and it's a mess (sorry Bruce). It was quite a challenge to even get good shots of the home, not because of thick screening surrounding the property, which is often the case, but because of all the "stuff" all over the place, which you can see for yourself in the photos in this post. Many have me at least. But the home is an architectural treasure, a gem worth preserving in Southampton Village. Maybe the owner needs some assistance around the house? Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and lend him a neighborly hand.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

550 Hill Street, "Hanhausen Cottage"

This quintessential two-story Colonial style cottage in the middle section of Hill Street (short for "the road to Shinnecock Hills") was built circa 1910 for Oswald Hanhausen. It sits on a lovely piece of property, with a nice set-back from the road in front, and a nice swath of yard in the back; a far cry from those properties currently maxing-out their square-footages and leaving little real propyard or garden remaining. The simple gabled form of the building, its two-over-two windows, and its symmetricality give it a charming character. And the choice of traditional lanterns on each side of the main entry, and the addition of a simple trellis overtop, add nice embellishment while also meeting practical needs.
Oswald (b.1854) and wife Marie (1865-1945) Hanhausen were both French born and arrived in the United States in the mid 1880s. They had one daughter and three sons. Oswald was a coachman and then an estate "overseer," but he must have been hard-working and appreciated because his wife was able to pass on a proud inheritance to her children in 1945.
The home stayed in the Hanhausen family for over 60 years and was a popular rental in the 30s by such people as Mrs. Raymond J. Schweizer, Mr. & Mrs. Bingham W. Morris, and Mr. & Mrs. H. Jackson Starke.
For nearly 20 years the property was owned by the well-known artist, Robert Zakanitch. "Robert Rahway Zakanitch was born in New Jersey in 1935 and studied at the Newark School of Industrial and Fine Arts working as a commercial artist for a New York-based advertising company. After leaving the commercial arts world in the mid 1960s, Zakanitch worked in an Abstract Expressionist style. While he retained some of the spontaneous, gestural qualities of this style, his later work.....became more representational." (
Rumor has it the current owner wants to tear the house down. How sad.