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.