Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lookalikes

Just after I wrote the post about 207 Meetinghouse Lane, I discovered two other houses that look just like it.

First, one Saturday while out perusing garage/yard sales (a great way to tour historic architecture), I came across 187 Meetinghouse Lane, just two doors west of #205. Huh. Almost an identical twin, except that its porch hasn’t been altered, the panes in the triangular window are slightly different, and the second story window over the first floor bay window projection has been replace over the years. #187 also has a few rows of scalloped shingles in the front gable end, whereas #207 seems to have had its shingles either replaced or covered over with new shingles at some point.

Then, on my way home one day, I passed a house I have passed a hundred times: 180 Halsey Street. But for the first time I noticed it was just like those two houses on Meetinghouse Lane. Huh. This one however, is the mirror image of the first two, and also has its front porch intact. But like the others, some of its details have also changed over the years.

Some of you are probably saying, “So what? There are lots of “lookalike” (even facsimile) houses in the Village.” And you would be right. But I can’t help imagining that the builder of all these houses may have been the same person, and if one of the owners, or their neighbors, knows who built one of these houses, they probably know who built the others too. That would be interesting to know, at least to me.

But yes, the same design for a house is often built repeatedly, even way back when, and especially today.

The earliest surviving house in Southampton Village is a salt box, which was the form of most of the East End’s earliest surviving homes. There are also a significant amount of Sear’s kit houses (sold as “Sears Modern Homes” on the East End. Over 70,000 of these were sold in North America between 1908 and 1940. Shipped via railroad boxcars, these kits included all the materials needed to build a house. Many were assembled by the new homeowner and friends, relatives, and neighbors, in a fashion similar to the traditional barn-raisings of farming families.” (wikipedia)

Even today we can find volume after volume of house plan books sold at Barnes & Noble and Home Depot alike. I even remember a client from back when I worked as an architect that came to the office and asked us to build them a house just like they found on page x of a catalog they had, except with a few tweaks of their own.

It wasn’t always, and still isn’t, that architects are behind the construction of every structure. While I believe good architects are beneficial to every construction project, it’s true that many people disagree
and feel that costs can be saved without them. But if many of the Village’s most gorgeous and historic homes didn’t have an architect behind them, then the quality of builders in those days must really have been extraordinary and inspiring to say the least.

The first American architect was Benjamin Latrobe. “Benjamin Henry Boneval Latrobe (May 1, 1764 – September 3, 1820) was a British-born American neoclassical architect best known for his design of the United States Capitol, along with his work on the Baltimore Basilica, the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. Latrobe was one of the first formally-trained, professional architects in the United States, drawing influences from his travels in Italy, as well as British and French Neoclassical architects such as Claude Nicolas Ledoux." (wikipedia)

I think I’ll start a series of ‘Lookalike’ posts, as a sort of quasi-study of architectural prototypes both here in the Village and elsewhere in the Hamptons. I guess that make this post “Lookalikes #1.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Before & After Nos. 6, 7 & 8

Here are three before and after projects for you. I'm not going to scrutinize them ad nauseam but let you judge them for yourself instead. I will offer brief opinions though, of course. This is still my blog after all.
The first is 67 Layton Avenue. Above is the 'before' image, taken almost exactly one year ago; below is the 'after' image, taken last Sunday. I have great difficulty in accepting that this was a "renovation" but that's another issue. As for aesthetics, what do you think? Is this an improvement? It's a lovely home, that's for sure. But since only 10% of its original fabric remains, it's no longer technically a historic resource. If the village's historic district boundaries are ever expanded, this would be a 'non-contributing' property. Think of it this way: you know those places that have a lot of signs pointing out where important architectural treasures once were located, versus others that still have the actual buildings? This property would now only qualify for a sign.
The second is on Captains Neck Lane. Again, the 'before image is above, and the 'after' image is below. No one is crying over the loss of the previous house, but the scale of the new house seems drastically disproportionate with the property. Aesthetically its odd. It has a lot of different components that just don't join together well. I'm sure someone will love it though.
The third is on Little Plains. 'Before' is above; 'After' is below. The 'after' house is much prettier than the one on Captains Neck Lane (even though the barrel vault of the entry porch is a bit Post Modern, and I wish they had hung the shutters with historic hardware). But again, it literally consumes the property compared to most of the surviving older houses in the vicinity.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

499 Hill Street: The Corrigan Home

Just east of the house featured in my last post, this home was built circa 1910.
In 1909 Mrs. E. J. (Marie) Corrigan purchased 33 acres from Almon L. Drake at what is now the northeast corner of Hill and Corrigan Streets. Almon Lawrence Drake (1834-1921) was a farmer, "marketman," and "huckster" which meant a sort of peddler. Back then, Corrigan Street was named Halsey Street because one of the largest property owners in that area was a Halsey (some things never change). Corrigan Street was opened circa 1880.
The home on this property is in the Colonial Revival style, and there are loads of Colonial Revival examples of architecture in Southampton Village as the style more or less spanned the years between 1880 - 1940, also known to be when the Village really exploded as a summer colony.
This home encompasses two large gambrel roofed volumes assembled in a 'T' configuration and has a symmetrical compostion with shed dormers on the front and sides, six over six windows, and east side porch with a flat roof. I especially like the front entry door decorated by its flanking windows and the brackets under the roof overhangs. I think the home would have had chimneys on both sides of the front of the house, like bookends, but because the house is on a corner, the west elevation was given some dressier embellishments. I also love the windows, which mostly seem original. Notice how all of the panes, or divided lights, are all proportionate to each other, regardless of the overall unit size. These are the little clues I wish more designers and builders would notice and continue. As the saying goes, "God is in the details."
Marie S. Lauinboley Corrigan (b.1872) was French, immigrating to the United States in 1889. In 1899 she married Edward J. Corrigan (b.1869), a New Yorker whose parents were Irish and who was a "pottery salesman" before becoming a mason. Before having this home built, they rented on Bowden Square, with their first son and Marie's mother living with them. They went on to have several other children. I can even think of several vital Corrigan families still on the East End today.
Edward died circa 1925, and in 1933 Marie had her acreage subdivided (of course), but she held on to her corner home until selling it 52 years later, in 1961.
Since 1971 the property has been owned by Bruce R. Grier (b.1935), and it's a mess (sorry Bruce). It was quite a challenge to even get good shots of the home, not because of thick screening surrounding the property, which is often the case, but because of all the "stuff" all over the place, which you can see for yourself in the photos in this post. Many have complained.......to me at least. But the home is an architectural treasure, a gem worth preserving in Southampton Village. Maybe the owner needs some assistance around the house? Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and lend him a neighborly hand.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

550 Hill Street, "Hanhausen Cottage"

This quintessential two-story Colonial style cottage in the middle section of Hill Street (short for "the road to Shinnecock Hills") was built circa 1910 for Oswald Hanhausen. It sits on a lovely piece of property, with a nice set-back from the road in front, and a nice swath of yard in the back; a far cry from those properties currently maxing-out their square-footages and leaving little real propyard or garden remaining. The simple gabled form of the building, its two-over-two windows, and its symmetricality give it a charming character. And the choice of traditional lanterns on each side of the main entry, and the addition of a simple trellis overtop, add nice embellishment while also meeting practical needs.
Oswald (b.1854) and wife Marie (1865-1945) Hanhausen were both French born and arrived in the United States in the mid 1880s. They had one daughter and three sons. Oswald was a coachman and then an estate "overseer," but he must have been hard-working and appreciated because his wife was able to pass on a proud inheritance to her children in 1945.
The home stayed in the Hanhausen family for over 60 years and was a popular rental in the 30s by such people as Mrs. Raymond J. Schweizer, Mr. & Mrs. Bingham W. Morris, and Mr. & Mrs. H. Jackson Starke.
For nearly 20 years the property was owned by the well-known artist, Robert Zakanitch. "Robert Rahway Zakanitch was born in New Jersey in 1935 and studied at the Newark School of Industrial and Fine Arts working as a commercial artist for a New York-based advertising company. After leaving the commercial arts world in the mid 1960s, Zakanitch worked in an Abstract Expressionist style. While he retained some of the spontaneous, gestural qualities of this style, his later work.....became more representational." (www.nga.gov.au)
Rumor has it the current owner wants to tear the house down. How sad.