Thursday, August 18, 2011

80 North Main: The Halsey Farm and Homestead

This lovely colonial house was originally built in the mid-1700s for the Halsey family and still survives today. While the house has been added onto over the years, and small details have changed via maintenance and repair work, its integrity and purity of form are intact and it continues to be a vital contributing historic resource in Southampton Village.

The two story Colonial style house sits on the east side of North Main Street but its main entry door faces south, a common trend in Colonial days. It has a center hallway and symmetrical interior chimneys. Its pedimented entry trimwork and corner boards are likely 20th century modifications. Its rear wing is an early addition and was enlarged more recently. There is an accessory garage which seems contemporary, but there was a large barn associated with the property which I believe still exists but has been converted to a residence and belongs to an adjacent owner to the rear.

While the property is thought to have been originally developed in the 1700s, I was only able to trace the chain of title to Caleb & Maria R. Halsey and so I will start there. Caleb (1794-1881) was a direct descendant of Thomas Halsey, (1592-1678) one of the first European settlers to arrive in Southampton circa 1640. The Halsey family “was of high social position” in England. Caleb’s family were farmers and they tended their land, which years ago encompassed much more area, stretching north to Layton Avenue and east to Hildreth Street, until 1950 when Carrie L. Wilde acquired the property from the Halsey heirs outright. Sometime before then it was split in half, with the eastern portion along Hildreth Street owned by a Real Estate company, and acquired by Ms. Wilde in 1947.

Carrie L. Wilde was the wife of Anthony Wilde. Anthony was partners with Arthur Havens in a joint real estate company named Havens & Wilde. The Havens were notorious real estate brokers and land owners in Southampton Village history. So you see the story coming together here. While Charles Selden Halsey inherited the farm from his father, and left the property to his heirs, Carrie L. Wilde was somehow able to step into the inheritance. But the Halsey heirs and Ms. Wilde co-owned the property for 38 years before she owned it outright, and then she passed it to her heirs who owned it for the next 28 years. So you have to imagine that both the Halseys and the Wilde’s were quite smitten with their property, as I would have been too. But it does leave room for questions.

The current owner is Henry Koehler, the renown American equestrian painter. I had the privilege of meeting him earlier this year and touring his house. He is a charismatic gentleman and I would have enjoyed spending the whole day with him, so easy to talk to, so charming, and filled with stories about his experiences and collections. He is also very proud of the heritage of his home which will hopefully be passed to his children one day, assuring its careful survival for many more years.

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