Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New 2013 Year

A particularly charming scene among the many picturesque holiday views this time of year in Southampton Village.
Let's welcome the New Year with fresh hope and renewed expectations. May it bring happiness, good health, safety, excitement, love and prosperity........and many saved historic structures!!
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Moved Buildings ARE Valuable


The Big Duck, Flanders

In Southampton, New York, buildings used to be moved very frequently. Because this was such a common practice, while the national standard of historic preservation generally dictates that a building that has been moved is one which has lost all original integrity, in Southampton it is the opposite. The fact that a building was moved demonstrates just how valuable they were as commondities and useful resources. In fact, it wasn’t so much that anyone was clinging to them for character or sentimental reasons, they were just plain useful! (In other words, why on earth would one throw something out that was so darn useful? Unfortunately, that’s no longer a common opinion among our “throw it out-get a new one” generation. Not to mention the fact that, now, it’s very expensive to move buildings.)
Another 18th Century Home, Quimby Lane, Bridgehampton
Yes, I am still irked that the original Southampton Village Catholic Rectory was allowed to be demolished just because it had been relocated from its original site. Therefore, I now present you with a wide assortment of “moved buildings” both in Southampton Village and Southampton Town. You’d be surprised how many there are, and I’ll bet their owners don’t think they’re so dispensible.
Coopers Farm Road, Southampton Village
Rose Hill Road, Water Mill


An 18th Century Home in the Rosko Community, Southampton Village

The Hampton Bays Windmill, now on Gin Lane
Rosemary Lodge, Water Mill
The former Life Savings Station, now a home. Gin Lane.
The Foster House, originally on Main Street, now First Neck Lane, Southampton Village

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Internship Opportunity with the National Trust


Internship: Historic Sites Architecture
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Washington, DC

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is pleased to offer an exciting opportunity to a recent architecture graduate with a preservation focus for a 3 month internship in the Historic Sites department working under the supervision of the Graham Gund Architect. The historic sites department stewards the restoration, rehabilitation and preservation projects at the National Trust’s twenty-seven historic sites nationwide.
This is a paid internship offering a $7,500 stipend between the months of January and April, 2013, based in Washington, DC.

Motivated and energetic applicants with an architecture degree (B.S or M.S) and a Master of Science/Master of Arts in Historic Preservation or a Master of Science in Architecture with a preservation concentration are encouraged to apply.
 
Please see the posting on our jobs page for the full description and application instructions, or contact David Field at dfield@savingplaces.org for more information.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Sky is Not Green

 
I am pleased to relay that my Viewpoints article is published in the Southampton Press's current issue. Hopefully Southampton will read it and think seriously. Fingers Crossed! (Thanks Southampton Press for giving me some "air" time!)

Friday, December 7, 2012

245 Hampton Road - Demolished

245 Hampton Road: Residence of Walter Burling, the father of the founder of The Southampton Press
Poor Mr. Burling's house has been demolished, without even a respectful review process before its demise. Maybe it was condemned? For the history of this house, click here: http://shvillagereview.blogspot.com/2012/02/245-hampton-road-residence-of-mr-mrs.html.

This is the holiday season however, so I'll be posting something appropriately uplifting soon.

Monday, November 26, 2012

80 Wooley Street – Maxing Out?

80 Wooley Street today (on the right). The driveway belongs to the neighbor to the left.
Several residents on Wooley Street are annoyed by the house being built at #80 which strangely seems to have been constructed too tall and ignorant of the Pyramid Law. Questions arise as to how a house so publicly visible could be built without complying with such common zoning regulations, but there it is, clear as day.

80 Wooley Street, before demolition/new construction began. Dec. 2010
Now, after the fact (kind of like 67 Layton), the owners will be seeking permission for these violations at a public hearing Thursday, November 29th at 7:30pm. (Update 11/28: the owners have requested an adjournment. The next ZBA meeting will be Dec. 18th I think.) The requests should be denied, but I’d be surprised if they are as that would require the owners to deconstruct part of the home and rebuild.
The original application to “improve” this property took place in December of 2010. Several neighbors participated in that review process with concerns about privacy and the over-development of the lot with more than one accessory structure in addition to the main house. Somehow though, what was approved, and what’s been built, don’t seem to match. 
The proposed drawing for 80 Wooley Street; Dec. 2010
I sympathize for the residents of Wooley Street. Not only are they watching the character of their street change via new construction that seems to “max-out,” or exceed, all the zoning regulations (setbacks, height, lot coverage), but they are suffering from privacy and even elbow-room issues.  The same thing has taken place on so many other streets: Armande, Halsey, Breese and Osborne to name only a few. It’s almost as if the overwhelming amount of precedents that have been set over turn the codes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

159 Meadowmere Lane - Demolished

Front/South Elevation
The house pictured above has been demolished. It was built in 1897 on Hill Street as the rectory to the Catholic Church and was moved to the northeast corner of Halsey Neck Lane and Meadowmere Lane sometime in the 1960s when the church embarked on building a newer, larger convent for its clergy.


View in 1902 - #159 in the middle of the two church structures.
During the local Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation’s (ARB) review, on March 26, 2012 (see video here: http://www.southamptonvillage.org/boardVideo.asp?flv=ARB_032612.flv), the historic consultant didn’t know of the building’s history and, in fact, estimated its date of construction as circa 1930. Oops, try Queen Anne.  Despite the attorney’s straightforwardness regarding the building’s history, once they all learned that the building had been moved from its original site, they all seemed to agree the house had suffered a fatal blow to its integrity. This, of course, is ridiculous. Across the East End of Long Island, buildings were moved so frequently, so much more than anywhere else in New England, that it’s not at all indicative of a building’s lack of worth, but just the opposite. Here in Southampton, buildings of all different sizes, shapes and uses were considered so useful and practical and adaptable, that they were moved commonly and constantly, even across the ice and to/from other states! It may be a commonly held position in the field of historic preservation in general that once a structure has been moved from its original site it no longer retains any integrity whatsoever, but not in Southampton, and many historic preservation professionals will confirm that. Back to this house, it was built as a house for clergy, then moved to continue being a house. I'll bet if I looked into its ownership, I may even discover that who moved it was an highly regarded member of the congregation.
Side/East Elevation
Also interesting during the ARB’s review, everyone kept referring to the house as a “Four Square.” Wrong again. The Four Square style began to be prevalent all over the country about 1915. Yes, this building shared many similar features: a square plan, a hipped roof with dormers, but it was anything but a Four Square house. It was Queen Anne, a very popular style from about 1880 to 1910 locally. The fact is, its age, architectural detailing, and association with the Catholic Church were plenty to confirm its historic significance and deserving of preservation. Not in this village though, where not even the slightest bit of research seems to go into the review of properties before they are demolished. It took about 10 minutes to bless the demise of this building. Ugh!
Close-up of detailing in decorative gable.
And here’s the kicker: the original garage is safe. Also moved from Hill Street, always associated with the house, and also built in 1897, the garage will be converted into a pool house. Why would parties who have absolutely no value for historic structures whatsoever save the garage? Because it’s in a pre-existing non-conforming location and is probably larger in size than a new accessory structure is allowed to be. So in the end, the garage is more valuable than the rectory. Amazing.


I saw work being done on this site awhile ago and wrongly assumed that the Village of Southampton pretty much had its act together and would never let this historic resource be compromised. When I found out that the building had come down, I actually cried.
I’m at a loss for words. One thing’s for sure, if you own a historic structure (no matter where you live) and you have not protected it, don’t expect anyone else to either. And don’t come crying to me when it’s gone.

For more information about the history of the house, see an old blog post here: http://shvillagereview.blogspot.com/2010/05/6-did-you-know.html.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"The Tower House," 213 Herrick Street

First, before I dive into the history of the house which is the subject of this blog post, I want to wish everyone well after enduring two incredible storms within ten days: Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent Nor’easter. I took a brief drive around our village and was relieved to see most of its most fragile historic structures intact (to the dismay of some of their owners). I sincerely hope all has – by now – returned to normal for all of you and that you are all safe and sound. My little circa 1920 cottage endured it well, thank God. It has survived countless, and I am grateful that it continues to do so, for my family’s sake. A testament to the durability of early construction methods!

Front/South Elevation, facing Herrick Street
On to my first post in over a month. Apologies again.
For a long time now I have been curious about the glorious home on the northwest corner of Herrick and Lewis streets. It is a great example of the Queen Anne style which makes me a bit curious. The Queen Anne style was popular from about 1880 to 1910, but this house didn’t appear at this location until late 1923 leaving me to wonder whether it was relocated here from another site. The property and vicinity were developed by Samuel L. Parrish (1849-1932) as “Old Town Park.” Samuel was one of Southampton Village’s most prominent citizens and his legacy lives on in numerous forms today. He moved a historic Foster house (http://shvillagereview.blogspot.com/2010/07/383-first-neck-lane-foster-house.html) from Main Street to First Neck Lane in 1916 and was known to have a high regard in general for the village’s historic resources and character.
Side/East Elevation, facing Lewis Street and the Hospital
The home’s first owners at this location, from 1923 to 1937, were W. Sherman & Ethel N. Hawkins. The Hawkins family descended from Robert and Mary Hawkins, who came to America from England in 1635. Sherman and Ethel however, were from Brookhaven. Sherman (b. 1878) was a son of Capt. and Mrs. H. E. Hawkins; Ethel (1884-1948) was the only daughter of Capt. and Mrs. Charles L. Newey. As a young man W. Sherman Hawkins owned a dry goods store in the heart of Southampton Village which was sadly broken into, burglarized, and burned in 1906. He later worked for the village post office for twenty-three years, and was considered for postmaster in 1932. In 1937 the Hawkins moved to another location in Southampton Village.
Rear/North Elevation
In 1946 owners of the residence deemed it “The Tower House.” Most notably however, in 1951, the home was acquired by Mrs. Martrese Thek Ferguson (1898-1988). Major Ferguson was a commanding officer in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve during World War II, serving in both WWI and WWII. According to Wikipedia, “In 1918, the Secretary of the Navy allowed women to enlist in the Marine Corps for clerical duty….During that year, some 300 women entered the Marine Corps; taking over stateside clerical duties from battle-ready Marines needed overseas….The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was officially established on February 13,1943….By the end of World War II, 85% of all enlisted U.S. Marine Corps personnel assigned to Headquarters were women.” Major Ferguson “graduated at the top of the first officers’ class…, rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and commanded more than 2,000 women at Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia.” (http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/Women%20Marines%20in%20World%20War%20I%20%20PCN%2019000305000_2.pdf). In 1965 Major Ferguson also moved to another location in the village.  

Mrs. Martrese Thek Ferguson, 1945
In 1972 the house was given to the Southampton Hospital who has owned it ever since, using it as offices. It has endured some modifications: some of its windows have been replaced, its original siding has been covered over, its roof is now asphalt, and it was expanded at some point by adding an addition over the rear porch, but all in all it remains intact. Its wonderful three story round tower, beautiful divided light windows of multiple shapes and types, its wrap-around porches and hipped roof with multiple gables all evoke back to the early 1900s when our village was thriving with Queen Anne creations.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

95 Layton Avenue Has Been Demolished


This is an extraordinary loss to the northern Elm Street area and represents the further dilution of the historic resources in Southampton Village. This is another victory for those that argue that structures are "too far gone to be saved, " when it really boils down to a matter of intention: to act as a steward of history, or to erase it and leave it for photo albums, building a quasi-replica in its place.

To read about the history of this former home, click here: http://shvillagereview.blogspot.com/2012/02/look-alikes-2.html.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Street Residence: 111 Powell Avenue

Front View (Southeast), Present Day
Yes, our village has a street named Henry Street, but the home that is the subject of this blog post was built for Henry Street on Powell Avenue.  (There’s a “Who’s on First” sort-of skit in there somewhere, right?)

The little yellow house at 111 Powell Avenue was built about 1897 on a street created after the arrival of the Long Island Railroad in 1877 and on which the railroad station and lumber yard were located. It has been for sale for a while but doesn’t currently seem listed (I searched the internet briefly, looking for interior images). It’s a charming little house in a neighborhood where most of the houses are still relatively small and were built by house carpenters, just like this one. It has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and 1,436 square feet of living area.

Technically, it is a one-and-a-half story home that is cruciform in plan. Its primary asymmetrical north-south gable is flanked by matching cross gables to the east and west. Some of its windows have been replaced, and several little one-story appendages have been added over the years. There is a stockade fence dividing the 4/10ths acre property in half, but there is no pool, only a crumbling barn/garage in the back yard.
East View, Present Day
After acquiring the property from Ullman R. & Ida W. Havens, Henry Eldridge Street (1849-1918), a house carpenter, built this home for his son Harry and his wife, Grace Burling. Born in Sag Harbor, Henry married Ella Jane Hurlburt (1854-1930) of Connecticut in 1872 and moved to Brooklyn in the early 1900s before ultimately settling in Glen Head, New York (Town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County, Long Island). In addition to Harry, Henry and Ella had five other children, but only their two daughters, Isabel and Mabel, would live beyond 1910. Isabel became Mrs. George Court (A street married a court….hmmm.). Mabel, who graduated with honors from the Union school here in Southampton Village (demolished, was located on Windmill Lane), became a public school teacher.

Not owning the house terribly long, in late 1911 the Street’s sold the house to John Okuniewicz (b.1879) and his family. Judging by John’s last name, you would be right in assuming that John was a Russian-Polish immigrant. The local Polish church and community was also located conveniently around the corner from this home. The Okuniewicz family owned the home for the next 40 years.  John and his four sons held a variety of jobs around the estate district of the village, from chauffeur to gardner, and of course, house carpenter.  I have been fortunate to meet the descendants of other local Polish immigrant families that held similar positions and had valuable oral histories and photos to share of surviving Southampton estates.
From 1952 to 2004 the home was owned by other local Polish families, the Adamczyks and Marczaks, until being sold in 2004.

Southwest Elevation, Present Day

Thursday, September 6, 2012

32 Armande Street Has Been Demolished


Since about 2009 I have been the Thanksgiving chef for my family and I have found that it takes at least three to four days to make a really great Thanksgiving dinner.......but only about 20 minutes to eat it!

8am this morning.
Not to make light of this situation (and coupled with the fact that life is not worth living if we are angry and frustrated too much of the time), but similarly the house at 32 Armande, which was built for Madame Armande Kleisler circa 1910, was the reason for creating and naming the street on which it was located, stood for more than 100 years in our community, took about 7 hours today to completely demolish.

RIP Madame Armande.

To read the history of the house, prior to its demise, check out my post about it last April, here: http://shvillagereview.blogspot.com/2012/04/madame-armande-and-portable-building.html.


4pm this afternoon.
The east facing front elevation of the home, now lost.


The house and summer kitchen, now lost.

Monday, August 13, 2012

550 Hill Street: Demolition Application Forthcoming


Unfortunately, the demolition application for 550 Hill Street may be right around the corner. Recently, a four-lot subdivision application was submitted which would combine the lots of 550 and 554 Hill Street and re-divide them into four new building lots, with all of the existing structures on them proposed to be demolished. Of all of them, 550 should be preserved. See my earlier post about it here: http://shvillagereview.blogspot.com/2011/09/550-hill-street-hanhausen-cottage.html. This house, and the house next to it (to the west) are now, sadly, on my "Free Buildings" list.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

60 Halsey Street and the Schoolhouse Behind It

60 Halsey Street, April 2012
This past spring (gosh, was it that long ago already?) an application was submitted to demolish a home on Halsey Street. As of this writing the home has now been torn down (nothing like waking up during the summer to the sounds of a house being demolished), and the site is being cleared in preparation for the construction of a new home. During the inspection of the property last July, to bless or deny the removal of the home, the accessory building at the rear of the property was discovered to be an early surviving schoolhouse, later converted into a cute little two bedroom cottage. Eureka!

Southwest View of the Schoolhouse, Present Day.
Before we dive into the ‘Who-What-Why’ of the school building, though, let’s talk about the main house. According to surviving historic maps, in 1916 the property which is now #60 Halsey Street was vacant. To the south was Alfred Clement with a house and barn (later and today owned by the Wines family), and to the north was “R. Edwards” (Raymond) with a house and garage. The original owner of this home was Thomas H. White (1892-1945). Thomas was the son of Elwyn Parsons White (1849-1936), a real estate broker who also volunteered for the Life Saving Station and lived at 190 Ox Pasture Road. His turn-of-the-century Queen Anne home still survives but was renovated about six or so years ago, becoming the west wing of a much larger residence.  In 1915 Thomas married Harriett “Wray” Brown (1891- c. 1972). He was a house carpenter, and after he and his bride lived with Elwyn on Ox Pasture Road for a bit, they moved into the house Thomas built for them on Halsey Street and started a family. By 1920, they had two sons, Thomas Jr., and Harry. In 1936 Elwyn died after being hit by a car crossing Hill Street, and in 1945 Thomas Sr. hung himself during a bout with depression.
Elwyn P. White's Home on Ox Pasture Road, 1977
The home was described as a typical “Four-Square,” a house style that was prevalent between 1895-1930s, was often locally associated with farming families, and is sometimes linked with the Prairie Style. (33 Norris Lane, in Bridgehampton, is a classic example.) The ‘Four-Square’ got its name from its cube-like massing and its interior layout of four main rooms per floor. They are typically two stories high, with a full-width front porch, a hipped roof with deep overhangs, and a central dormer.  “Built to offer the most house for the least amount of money, there may never have been a more popular or practical house than the American Foursquare. Most decorative features were saved for the front porch which could reflect either Colonial Revival details or Bungalow elements.” (www.goodideas.com)

33 Norris Lane, Bridgehampton
This Four-Square was built right in the middle of the style’s prevalence but differs slightly from the most typical examples. This home was slightly wider than most, and was topped with a Widow’s Walk, a roof-top veranda named after the wives waiting for their sea-captain husbands to return home.
In 1974 the home was purchased from Thomas H. White Jr. by Peggy Martin Crowson (1915-1986). Peggy was a Southampton attorney and the daughter of a Brooklyn Judge, George Washington Martin Jr. (d.1948). Judge Martin was a nephew of the vaudevillian, James McIntyre, who claims to have invented a form of tap dancing and was half of the very famous duo, McIntyre and Heath.

Unfortunately, despite retaining a high level of integrity, the home was not considered to be individually landmark worthy and was therefore permitted to be torn down. Yes, Four-Square homes are common throughout the Hamptons. Still, they contribute a nice traditional aesthetic to their neighborhoods, and should not be so quickly dismissed. I personally would have preferred this home to be renovated and expanded rather than replaced, but that’s just me.
West view of the Schoolhouse, Present Day.
On to the schoolhouse.  There may only be one other original schoolhouse that survives, predating those now in existence on Hampton Road. The one here, is about 20 feet wide by 30 feet long, has a south facing entry with gabled porch, rear center chimney, and uniform double-hung two-over-two divided light windows on each side.

There is a wonderful little booklet called “The Public Schools of Southampton, New York: 1664-1923” which was published by the Southampton Press in 1923. It narrates the development and history of the Southampton School district verbally and pictorially very well and is very useful in determining exactly which schoolhouse the surviving building on Halsey Street is, and how it got there.
The first schoolhouse “for English speaking pupils” was built here in Southampton Village in 1664, “the same year the English took possession of “New Amsterdam.”  It served the entire township which was not divided into smaller districts until 1813. This first structure was 15 feet wide and 20 feet long and it was used for school related purposes for over 100 years. “The white population of our school district in 1651 was 29. In 1666 It had increased to 54 and in 1696, the population was 973.”
The rear schoolhouse-like addition to Mrs. Etheridge's home.
The second schoolhouse was built in 1767 on the west side of Main Street near Nugent Street. It was 20 feet wide and 30 feet long. In 1804 it was replaced by a building twice its size. In 1814, the third schoolhouse was cut in half; half of it remained where it was, and the other half became the fourth  schoolhouse, and was moved to the south side of Job’s Lane, down near Windmill Lane. That marks the beginning of the district being divided into smaller areas: the “North End” (No. 16) and the “South End” (No. 6) districts. The third schoolhouse remained at the intersection of Main and Nugent Streets until 1860. At some point it was moved behind the Bethel church on Windmill Lane. Today there is a home owned by the Etheridge family which has a rear kitchen that strongly resembles the exact proportions of an old schoolhouse, but Mrs. Etheridge isn’t convinced they are one and the same.

Sometime between 1813 and 1833, the fifth schoolhouse, “The Academy,” was built. It was located on the northwest corner of Main Street and Job’s Lane and was in operation until 1889. After that it was sold and moved to the lower west end of Job's Lane. It survives today as a retail store in need of some TLC. It's dentil moldings along the roof's edges make it easy to identify.

89 Jobs Lane Today: The Old Academy
Between 1857 and 1860 the sixth and seventh schoolhouses were built. One in the South End district, just east of the fourth schoolhouse on Job’s Lane, and the other in the North End district, on the west side of Windmill Lane.

In 1890 the voters elected to consolidate and form the Union Free School District. A year later, the eighth schoolhouse was built, a large Victorian beauty (above) on Windmill Lane, just south of the seventh schoolhouse. That building was designed by George Skidmore and built by Horten and Jagger for $12,575. At that time, all of the previous little school buildings were sold for private use.

“The school board thought at the time the new grammar school building was erected in 1891 that the new building would supply all school demands for many years, but this was not true. The school growth at that time was very rapid … Owing to this rapid growth the capacity of the building was increased to more than double its original size in 1895, and in 1901 a room in the attic was finished off to provide for the continued growth. In 1907 two more rooms were finished off in the attic for the same purpose and from 1908 to 1912 school rooms were hired and … maintained until the present high school building … [now Southampton Town Hall] was erected in 1912.”
The schoolhouse at 60 Halsey Street appears to have been built about in the 1880s. That means that since it is not one of schoolhouses 1-7, it was likely originally a private school building. When it was discovered, the historic consultant to the Architectural Review Board immediately recommended that it become a village landmark. To my knowledge the current owner hasn’t expressed an interest in designation (even though, in Southampton Village owner consent is not needed), but he has – thankfully – expressed a desire to preserve it and adaptively reuse it as a poolhouse on the redeveloped property.

Detail of 1916 Map by E. Belcher & Hyde
I asked several older residents in the neighborhood about the schoolhouse but no one knew of it. I looked up several old Halsey Street deeds in the vicinity but found no mention of a schoolhouse. One day, while looking for something altogether different, a newspaper clipping or scrapbook photo or journal entry providing the proof and clarification we need about this old schoolhouse will turn up. The question remains, however, how did it get there? Here’s my theory: The following families were actively involved with the school system, as trustees, on the school board, as owners of private schoolhouses, or as teachers: Halsey, Payne, Edwards, Fordham and Aldrich. Coincidentally, all of these families owned property nearby. There must be a connection there somewhere. I think the building was built nearby for the Fordhams. Among the Fordham family alone, were trustees, school board members, and teachers. Later, the building migrated to 60 Halsey Lane and was transformed into a cottage. I’ll bet that if we could speak with Wray White today, we would learn more. To be continued.
60 Halsey Street Property Owners:
Jasper Rose LLC, Jan. 2012 – present (Michael Wolohojian)
Dr. Douglas F. Allen Trust, 2003-2012 (Patricia Dede Lavas, Trustee; Peggy’s daughter)
Dr. Douglas Finley Allen, 1986-2003 (Peggy’s platonic partner and best friend)
Peggy Martin Crowson, 1974-1986
Thomas H. White Jr., 1972-1974
Harriett “Wray” White, 1946-1972 (Thomas Sr.’s widow)
Thomas H. White Sr., before 1920 – 1946
Edward J. Halsey

Monday, July 9, 2012

Steeple Update

An architectural elevation of the church, with the proposed antenna location highlighted.
There was a brief article in the New York Times on July 6th about the ongoing struggle by the First Presbyterian Church and their consultants to come up with a successful plan to install cellular phone antennae in their historic structure’s steeple (Link to article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/07/nyregion/cellphone-proposal-for-southampton-clock-tower-provokes-dispute.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all.) In it, I was particularly disturbed to read the current pastor’s comment, about how the church belongs to the Presbytery and how the leaders of its congregation “have spoken about how [it] should be used.” It reminds me of a question I once heard someone ask and which I think of often: Why should the present owners of any particular structure that has endured several generations be able to decide what is best for it? That question always leads to ownership debates and property rights arguments, but it gets to the larger point here: do the present church leaders have only the present time (no pun intended) in mind? Or are they truly acting in the church’s best interests, now and in the future?

Last July, the original submission which involved dismantling part of the turrets at the top of the church’s steeple was dismissed without prejudice by the Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation. Last May, a new proposal was submitted which describes installing four antennae at the clock level. Again, original material near the clock would be replaced with material more conducive in transmitting cellular phone waves, but even more significantly, the clock itself may have to be sacrificed.  The church was built in 1843, and the clock was added in 1871. It too is a historic artifact in its own right.
As of today, there were two letters in the church’s application file at the building department which I found particularly interesting. One was from the President and Founder of Save America’s Clocks and said the current proposal “may result in the alteration and subsequent loss of a rare and historic E. Howard tower clock,” and that losing the clock “would be a great loss to the world famous landmark that graces your hometown…” Good point. The other letter, dated July 5th, was from a man named Walter de Groot, an architectural ornamentation expert from Middle Island, New York. Apparently, he was hired by Metro PCS, the cell phone company working with the church, “to perform a survey on…the historical nature of the turrets on the top of the steeple.”  However, he has since quit because he believes the current proposal is “unacceptable.” In his letter he states, “The historical integrity of the original fabric, being the siding, bracing, and interior bead board, once cut and removed, could never be properly reinstalled and would leave permanent damage, both aesthetically and structurally to the steeple….Since my objection to this approach was ignored after I explained the issues, I felt I had no choice but to disassociate myself from the project…I felt the preservation of the steeple and its contents were no longer a priority for MetroPCS.”

While the particulars of the church’s cell phone antenna application have changed, it seems the problems are the same, maybe even magnified. The removal of original fabric is against both federal and local codes, and now the historic clock is being threatened. The next ARB public hearing is this coming Wednesday, July 11th. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bookhampton Signing June 30, 2012

Thanks to everyone for coming to my book-signing yesterday, and thanks to BookHampton for the invitation! I was overwhelmed by the wonderful interest and turnout!! Can't wait to work on book #2!
By the way, this week the Southampton Press and East Hampton Star published articles about me and the book. Here are the links to those, should they interest you: Southampton Press: http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/Southampton-Village-Surrounding-Areas/428191/Remembering-And-Preserving-Gin-Lane-Cottages-Through-Writing; East Hampton Star: http://www.easthamptonstar.com/?q=Books/2012626/Long-Island-Books-Quiet-Comfort-Rich-Gossip.

Friday, June 22, 2012

More Book Happennings, etc.

Yes, I am still working on the Southampton Village schoolhouse post for you, but in the meantime I am enjoying the promotion of my first book (the Bedell event with the Parrish Wednesday night was a pleasure), and working hard on town landmark designations, historic districts, various legislative amendments, and incentives. Sorry to make you wait so long for my next post. If you're interested, Brendan O'Reilly recently posted a nice article about me and my book on Southampton Patch. Read it here: http://southampton.patch.com/articles/resident-s-book-aims-to-save-southampton-s-historic-fabric. The Southampton Press also recently interviewed me. Stay tuned for that.

It's sure been hot out here for the past few days. Hope everyone is staying cool and enjoying the wonderful Hamptons summer season!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lots of Activity on Walnut Street


There is a lot happening on Walnut Street these days. It must be one of the shortest streets in the Village, but there are several properties either for sale or applying for permits. Walnut Street is a very charming little village street, with very light traffic and great historic character, located just behind (east) the Main Street downtown area. If you are someone who likes to tool around town on a bicycle, this is the street for you! Several of the properties along Walnut Street however, are having work done, or are in the process of getting approvals for work. Numbers 71, 57, 54 (above right), and 64 (above left) are some of those properties.


Over Memorial Day weekend I drove down Walnut Street on my way home after enjoying breakfast with my family on Main Street. I couldn’t miss that the lots of numbers 54 and 64 had been completely cleared and wondered what was going on. I’m not quite certain of the answer but have learned that, along with 67 Meetinghouse Lane, all three parcels were considered one, having been merged over time, and owned by Donald D. Flodin. 1895 Map Below.

Donald was a Southampton Village resident for 25 years and passed away in 2010. Now, the lots are being re-subdivided (October 2011 ZBA). I don’t know what the plans are beyond that, but two of the three homes are definitely historic and all of them are located within a historic district, supposedly requiring the most restrictive review process. 54 Walnut maintains the highest degree of architectural integrity (beautiful two-over-two double hung windows, nice overall proportion, attractive wrap-around porch, porch columns, and porch brackets), while 67 Meetinghouse Lane is the oldest structure.  The history of these parcels, and the man likely behind their original development, is – not surprisingly – very interesting. 1902 Map Below.

Walnut Street was laid out sometime between 1873 and 1895, and it appears that the developer of these three parcels may have been Henry Post Norton (1860-1908). He was a native of Bridgehampton, and one of three children born to Chauncey Warren Norton (1837-1925) and Harriet Scott (1842-1894). Harriet was one of four children born to Lewis Scott (1801-1888) and Sophia Fournier (1802-1888). 1916 Map Below.

“Throughout the nineteenth century,” the proprietors of the town of Southampton “were dominated by four families: the Roses of North Sea and Bridgehampton, the Fosters, the Posts, and (after 1860) the Scotts, or more precisely, Lewis Scott, again of North Sea and the wealthiest landowner and the largest tax payer in Southampton. All four had their roots in the 1650s or earlier. Roses, Fosters, and Posts had early established themselves as important families whose members were constantly in one public office or another, whereas Lewis Scott was a descendant of one of the most intriguing and disreputable figures in early colonial history, Colonel John Scott, a speculator and shape shifter of almost heroic proportions.” (Colonizing Southampton, David Goddard, 2011; For more fascinating history about Col. John Scott, see Mary Cummings’ article on Patch, here: http://southampton.patch.com/articles/john-scott-was-a-charming-charlatan-2#c).


In 1888, the same year that his wealthy grandfather died, Henry P. Norton married Eliza (“Lida”) J. (b.1861). Her surname is unknown - Jagger maybe? They did not have any children together and after Henry’s death in 1908, Lida remarried, becoming Mrs. G. Barr. Sadly, Henry died just shy of his 50th birthday. What makes this even more sad, besides 50 being a young enough age (at least today), was that he was to inherit in the neighborhood of $50,000 and potentially other land holdings, from his deceased grandfather Lewis upon his 50th birthday! What an odd age to set for an inheritance, right? But even though he died just shy of his 50th year, as it turns out, he inherited anyway, just not all of what he would have if he had lived.


As you can imagine, there was a great fight that followed between Lida, the [greedy] widow, and the surviving Scotts and Nortons for Henry’s inheritance. After settling the debate about whether or not Lida had been, actually, Henry’s wife, she was awarded a portion of his inheritance. Ultimately, a separate provision in Lewis’ will allowed for Henry to receive the income from the $50,000 while ‘waiting’ to turn 50 (Wouldn’t it be great to be rewarded for turning 50?), and then throughout his lifetime. “In other words, it was contended that the gift was absolute to Norton upon the death of his grandfather and that the time for the payment of the balance was simply deferred.” The judge agreed. (Sag Harbor Express, April 6, 1909) She also got the properties on Meetinghouse Lane and Walnut Street, as evidenced by the map produce by Belcher & Hyde in 1916.


As previously mentioned, 67 Meetinghouse Lane (immediately above) was built first between 1873-1894, then 54 Walnut Street (2nd above 67 MHL) about 1895, then 64 Walnut (above 67 MHL) sometime after 1932. As this is a multi-family zoning district, all of them were eventually cut up into and used as apartment buildings.  All of them, have also had many additions and changes made to them over the years. However, I would hope, at the least, that 54 Walnut Street, and 67 Meetinghouse Lane would be rehabilitated rather than demolished. They both maintain great architectural harmony within the neighborhood, are good sizes by today’s standards for year-round or summer homes, and help narrate the evolution of the village. They have survived many years and many lives within them, and they have many more years – with some ‘TLC’ – to offer.