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.