Tuesday, June 28, 2011

143 Years Ago - The End

Completing this series of excerpts from the articles published by The Southampton Press titled “Southampton Sixty Years Ago,” in 1927-8 by Benjamin C. Palmer, here is the seventh and final segment. It describes additional “fun” pastimes of the youth then, and how one resolved various health issues and ailments.

“…the young people of that day had a sense of humor precisely as the young people have today. There were none of a vicious type but quite the reverse, none started out to create damage but if there was a good time on the board count me in it, said they.
Simple things as compared to today furnished the material to brighten the corner of their isolation – a candy pull on a cold winter night held at some neighbor’s home caused them to get there early and stay late, and ten o’clock was late then home and to bed. Some small traveling show occasionally brought out the crowd, a ventriloquist and slight-of-hand performer kept their minds busy for a week at one time; all tending to make life brighter.
The girls were of a quieter type than the boys. Modest and home loving, all trained as all girls should be in the arts of making home homelike; every girl could cook, bake, make patch work quilts, rag carpets, or help the dress maker …...

While the boys – well, they were continually on the lookout for mischief, in other words, “Fun.”

…..A certain young fellow had a girl that he used to go to see on certain evenings….Then he had a nice horse and a nice spring buggy such as they made and used in those days, which he used when he went to see said girl. Some of his chums put their heads together and thought out a trick worth trying; they knew his nights for sparking, so they went too, one night. They had already located some rope and a ladder and when everything was quiet and darkness prevailed they unattached the horse….and when the young man got ready to go home he had to walk as there was no sign or symptom of either horse or buggy, until the next day when the girl’s men folks found they had a new horse and discovered the buggy on the roof of the barn. Fun, wasn’t it?
Miss Eleanor White, daughter of Capt. Nat’l C. White of Wickapogue
[image of his home site in 1873 above], highly respected by all the scholars. She was kind, sympathetic and helpful; in the school was a boy, yes, several of them, but this particular boy was a good boy, a hard student and correct always in deportment; he wouldn’t do anything not permissible in a well-regulated school. One day……. a mitten filled with sand went crash bang on the wall over the heads of a group of the older girls. Silence prevailed while Miss Eleanor tried to find out who threw the mitten. Of course no one knew; it was a case of circumstantial evidence with no results – there was the mitten, but where was the boy? The boy who threw the mitten was shrewd enough to have used some other boy’s mitten so he couldn’t be traced by that, and the good boy who always knew his lessons was so busy studying behind the covers of a big geography that he wasn’t interested; perhaps he didn’t do any laughing outwardly, but we know that he did do considerable inwardly. Fun wasn’t it? Poor Miss Eleanor, that was her last winter of teaching school; everybody loved her but God loved her more and called her home.

….hung up in the house to dry, generally the garret, were various herbs gathered by the thrifty folks, like boneset, catnip, sage, Indian posey, blackberry root and doubtless others whose names we have forgotten.…..there was only one doctor to cover all the region from Good Ground to Bridgehampton. Dr. Hallock, the resident doctor, was a very short, active man and he had his hands and mind well occupied until some years later when he was failing on account of age and a strenuous life. He was relieved in the fast-growing town by our present Dr. John Nugent, a young graduate of unabated activity and ability.

Thus it was not possible to call up the doctor in a hurry when some member of the family felt indisposed and the mothers had to step into the breach and make use of these dried herbs, and they knew how to do it, too; even now while we write, we can imagine the taste of a good big bowl of hot catnip tea flavored with lemon and sugar, given for a sudden cold. Some of these “yarbs” as they were called, many of them, their usefulness handed down from the Indians through the generations, tasted good when made into tea, but we never had any particular love for the genius of generations before who advised wormwood tea, or its attendant remedy, “sulphur and molasses.” We didn’t like them and didn’t hesitate to say so, but had to take them just the same…..

Yes, these old time mothers, with their careful home training, who had not wasted their time playing cards and tripping the light fantastic, knew just what to do and how to do it…….thus saving lots of trouble for our only doctor, and undoubtedly saved many a life.

Then here and there were women well trained by experience, who could be called when a serious case developed or a maternity case was due, and as the late Dr. Mulford of Bridgehampton

[photo of his home above] once said to the writer: “That one of these country nurses were oft time far better than half a dozen doctors.” When one had a toothache, first some one of the old whaling captains could take the chances of breaking a person’s jaw, but they got the tooth every time with a turnkey. Next came the doctor, who used a latter day invention called forceps, and finally we evoluted into a fully equipped dentist, and accompanying the evolution of material mechanism, came the evolution in cost. Captains charged nothing….while the dentist charged all he could get and a little bit more if more were possible. We once walked clear to Sag Harbor to have a bad tooth pulled by a dentist; we never had any more trouble with that tooth but a feeling of sadness prevailed all the way home for he had charged us 50 cents!

When some serious accident occurred and some bone or bones were broken, it was the custom to get in touch with Dr. Sweet. The Sweet family lived in Connecticut; there were several of them, including a sister, and all specialists at bone setting. Some one of them came as promptly as possible when called, but sometimes the suffering patient had to wait some days before Dr. Sweet could get here.”

So this ends this series. I enjoyed the architectural history tidbits the most of course, but found all the other insight charming. I hope to continue these historic excerpts from time to time as there are loads of local history books to refer to.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A "Darena" Postscript

I got an interesting comment on my blog on Friday, but rather than to just let it quietly sit there, I thought I could be more elaborate in my response by turning it into a follow-up blog post to the recent one about “Darena” at 195 Ox Pasture Road. Here is the comment:

“There is no point in speculative homebuilders looking at the proportions of this house, because the massing and arrangement of the house is now illegal. You can't build houses that tall any more, and they can't have three floors. Asking a developer to somehow learn from this is inviting him to make a miniaturized version on only two stories. Distortion is precisely what's wrong with most developer houses.”

I corrected the spelling errors out of respect and an appreciation for dialog, and I’m sensing a little anger in that comment, but you never know with email, so let’s ignore that and give them the benefit of the doubt.

This person, whoever he or she may be, is plain wrong on many counts. First, 35 feet is the maximum height of a principle structure in Southampton Village, which is pretty high. I’m not sure how tall “Darena” is but I’ll bet its close. Second, third stories are absolutely allowable, they just have to be sprinkled to be legal, and of course have two means of egress, etc. Third and most important, the assumption that a smaller, or “miniaturized” structure with a gambrel roof would be distorted somehow is wrong and there are loads of lovely examples throughout the village to prove this point scattered about in this post. (Even Sunnymeade is in this post, which is 33 feet high.) So any assumption that smaller homes can’t have good proportions or a high quality of architectural style and detailing is silly.

Last, having disproved the “distortion” argument, I think what’s actually wrong with “developer” houses is not something that can be answered simply but is normally attributed to a poor overall quality of style. Some are too big, some are too crazy in the way they incorporate every kitschy overused “Hamptons” detail, and more than often they are just boring and generic. Coming up, more Village history, and a post about a beautiful home on Prospect Street.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Darena:" 195 Ox Pasture Road

This gorgeous Shingle Style home, with a gambrel roof whose proportions should be studied by all the speculative home builders on the East End, dormers with sunburst patterned trimwork in their gable ends, third story eyebrow windows and extensive porches, was built circa 1900 for Thomas G. and Mary B. Cauldwell.

Mary Britton (1837-1912) married Thomas Garniss Cauldwell in 1854 in Brooklyn. She was the daughter of Captain John Britton, who was the master of the ship Constitution from 1847 until he retired. Thomas died before 1910. Upon Mary’s death the house went to her son John B. Cauldwell.

John Britton Cauldwell (1855-1932) graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Civil Engineering but became the Director of Fine Arts for the United States’ participation in the Paris Exposition of 1900 after receiving the endorsement of many art societies based on his high reputation as an art aficionado. He lived to the age of 76 but never married. He did not own “Darena” long, and in 1914 it was sold to George B. French.

Born in Virginia, George Barton French (1864-1937) served in the World War with J. Pierpont Morgan with whom his father was an associate. After attending Columbia and Princeton, he was a stock broker and then became president of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad in 1910. He retired in 1913 but stayed active on various boards and was one of the first members of National Golf Links. In 1905 he married Katherine Richards Gordon (1864-1951) of Minnesota, a talented pianist and singer who was choirmaster and organist of St. Andrews Dune Church on Gin Lane for many years. George died of a heart attack at “Darena” in 1937 and was buried in Southampton.

James Shewan [the third] was the next owner of the home. He was the grandson of James Shewan, founder of James Shewan & Sons, Inc., owners of well-known dry docks between 25th and 28th streets in Brooklyn. James Sr. died in 1914. James Jr. died in 1926 before his two children, James and Patricia, were of adult ages. The dry dock company was often in the headlines accused of illegal liquor importing and often brought to court. James acted as more than a big brother to his sister Patricia by hosting her debut and announcing her engagement. She married Edward L. Newhouse III in 1938 whose grandfather was Chairman of the Board of the American Smelting & Refining Company. That marriage ended in divorce.

After Mr. Shewan, Charlotte Townsend Littlejohn Buchanan owned the home. In 1928 she was first married to Edward Norris Rich, Jr. of Maryland and had two children; that marriage ended in divorce. Sometime after 1940 she married again becoming Charlotte Littlejohn Buchanan, and in 1948 she married Orlando Cord of New Orleans. Her mother was Rebecca Bolling Littlejohn (1873-1961), a Southampton based collector and former chairwoman of the Parrish Art Museum. She assembled the core of 19th and 20th century American art collection at the Parrish Art Museum in the 50s. In 1961 (upon her death) she bequeathed her collection (hundreds of works) to the museum. Her father was Robert Malcolm Littlejohn, the founder of Littlejohn & Co. which imported crude rubber. Her parents owned the historic “Littlecote” residence, nearby which I’ve written about previously.

Owned early on by an art industry guru, the property is now back in the hands of the same. William Aquavella owns “Darena” and has been called on of the world’s most successful art dealers by the New York Times.

In 1914 “Darena” was considered to be one of the largest estates. While the subdivision game continues to this day, the property is still quite large within the estate section which provides the large estate with some comfortable breathing room and context.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Just How Easy is it to Demolish Something?

I'm not sure about the Village of Southampton, but in many places across the Town, the signature of all owners of a property are not required. Read about it here on Patch:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Old House? or New?

Have you ever driven by a house and wondered if it's old or new? Happens to me all the time. Read about it on Patch here: http://southampton.patch.com/articles/houses-whose-ages-are-not-obvious#c.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Analogy

I have often been critical of the decisions of the Southampton Village ARB but I am incredibly appreciative that our Village has such a board and has historic districts providing a valuable layer of protection over its historic resources.

Other incorporated Villages in the Town of Southampton have the same: Sagaponack and Sag Harbor, and yet the Town of Southampton does not have any historic districts or a governing body with any teeth to protect its architecture worth preserving.

As the Town of Southampton continues discussions and studies regarding the creation of historic districts, in an effort to get other individuals that are still weary of preservation legislation to be more pro-preservation minded, here is another analogy offered by one of my preservation friends:

“Would the local library board destroy all its first editions or classics collections to make way for the latest cookbook or mystery novels? No. Space would be made on the shelf for the new arrivals, but the oldies wouldn't be shredded into pulp in order to do so.”

The theory is “that if the usual way of direct and sensible argument isn't working, say it all another way.”

For both village and town residents that read this blog, your participation in convincing the Southampton Town Board that historic districts are a good thing would be very useful, valuable, and appreciated. Southampton Town, the oldest settlement on Long Island, is at least 20 years overdue in implementing the same level of protection of its wonderful architectural treasures as the villages of Sagaponack, Southampton, and Sag Harbor. Write letters to the editor, write letters to the Town Board, or come to a public hearing and educate the masses with your opinions. A letter or email is not a substantial time committment.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Home of Master Tim: 168 Strongs Lane, Hayground

Ever since an estate sale took place at this historic property back in October 2010 I have wondered about its history. Read about it on Patch here: http://southampton.patch.com/articles/circa-1790-homestead-survives-largely-intact.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

UPDATED! 30 North Main Street: The Residence of W.R. Post

I know I say this often, but one of the things I love most about this blog is how often relatives of owners of historic houses here in the Village contact me! This happened recently and proved to be very fruitful!

Previously, I wrote about the history of 30 North Main believing it to have been built for L. Emory Terry. Nope. Because the 1894 map showed a smaller structure, I wrongly assumed the current house replaced the previous house, when actually the current house is the original house enlarged and modified, but still recognizable. Here is an early photo, courtesy of Joy Becker.

The house is and was originally full of Italianate style detailing, such as widely overhanging eaves with decorative brackets and a low pitched roof. Later, as the house was expanded, the Italianate detailing was continued with the addition of the cupola and the maintenance of the porch trim detailing. “Like its contemporary, the Gothic Revival style, the Italianate style was an outgrowth of the wave of artistic romanticism that swept western Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century.”[1] There are still a nice number of Italianate style homes in the village.

So it turns out, 30 North Main Street was built prior to 1858 and listed as the residence of W. R. Post. “William Rogers Post, the sixth in line of descent from Lieut. Richard Post, was born April 8, 1811. On his mother’s side he was descended from Obadiah Rogers, the founder of a family always prominent in the town…..At the age of nineteen he went on a whaling voyage in the ship “Phoenix” [with] Capt. Henry Green. He afterwards made several voyages, in all a period of five years. The next two years were spent at home, and he then went to Sag Harbor and became a partner in business with Judge John Osborn, and for a part of the time was ship agent. When the whale fishery came to an end, he returned to Southampton in 1852. A fortunate speculation in oil and bone had given him a fortune and he at once took a prominent position, built the finest home in the village, and in all things was the foremost man in Church, Sunday School, Village, Town and County. In 1852 he was elected Supervisor and held the office for five years. In 1865 he was again elected and occupied that office for twelve years. …..The great characteristic of Mr. Post was, that whatever he did was done well…..His useful life ended May 14, 1889.”[2]

Circa 1900 the house was purchased by Charles Lester Emory Terry (1860-1936), better known as L. Emory Terry. Mr. Terry was also a prominent Southampton Village citizen. Born in Southold, L. Emory grew up on the north fork with four other siblings. Sadly though, his father, Hampton Terry, died four years after he was born.

“Mr. Terry was a descendant of the first English settlers in New York State, who came to Southampton town in 1640 from Lynn, Mass. He was one of the most prominent bankers and civic leaders in Suffolk County for many years……For many years he was a member of the board of Education of the Union Free School District of Southampton, and also served as its president. He also was president of the Colonial Society of Southampton and the Parrish Memorial Museum Art Association. Mr. Terry was one of the organizers of the Southampton Bank in 1888, serving as cashier until his election as president….”[3]

In 1884 L. Emory married Helen Ann Halsey (1859-1916) and they had two sons together: James Foster and Hampton Emory. After Helen’s death, he married Ann Halsey White (1862-1928) in 1917. He outlived them both, dying in Southampton at the age of 76.

The property is currently owned by Timothy M. Bryan. Prior to them, David A. Sutton and Robert Tucker owned the home, and previous to them the house was owned by Achille H. (1911-2000) & Jeanette A. Colledge for about 65 years.

[1] Great American Houses and Their Architectural Styles, Virginia & Lee McAlester
[2] Celebration of the 275th Anniversary of the Founding of the Town of Southampton, 1915
[3] New York Times, Jan. 11, 1936