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 façade 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. 

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