Wednesday, February 15, 2012

245 Hampton Road: The Residence of Mr. & Mrs. Walter R. Burling

This house looks like your average turn-of-the-century run-down old farmhouse, doesn’t it? Well it’s not. Many of us have witnessed this house’s lack of life for awhile now as we drive by the highly trafficked street on which it has been situated for more than 100 years. It is currently for sale, includes a sizeable lot behind it, and is being advertised as a great commercial opportunity for an attractive price. I wonder if the home’s rehabilitation could be a part of that opportunity. Sometimes looks can be deceiving, and a structure is in far better shape than it appears at first glance. Hopefully, that is the case here.

This house is a two-story American Folk style structure, common in this country between 1850-1890. It has a primary front-facing gable which was an especially common occurrence during the time in the northeast. It has a western cross gable, an engaged eastern gable, a western first story bay window, shingle siding, two-over-two divided light double-hung windows, and round-top double-hung windows in the gable ends. It is strange that there is no evidence of there ever being a front porch, and there is no fireplace in the original massing. Other haphazard elements are later additions, and the presence of multiple electrical meters indicates the building was converted to apartments at some point. 

Here is the most interesting part: this house was built for Walter R. Burling (1831-1912). Born in Manasquan, New Jersey, his destiny was that of a newspaper man. He started the Long Island Times in 1855 as a young man and prospered as its editor-in-chief and owner for 25 years. In 1880 he moved from Flushing, Queens to Southampton and founded the Sea-Side Times one year later. “This was the first paper of the south side, east of Patchogue.”[1] In April of 1855 he married Huldah A. Wells of Aquebogue and together they had eleven children, six daughters and five sons. One of the sons, George H. Burling, started The East Hampton Star in December of 1885, and The Southampton Press in May of 1897. Another son, Frank W. Burling, began The Bridgehampton News in February of 1895. “During the time [Walter] Burling was in Southampton he established several other newspapers on Long Island. The News, of Roslyn, L.I.; The Times, of Port Jefferson, L.I.; The Suffolk Weekly News, of Sayville, L.I.; The Record, of Centre Moriches, L.I.”[2] And if that weren’t enough, he also founded The Riverhead Courier in 1895, a successful independent newspaper for about a year before being sold.

Isn’t it sad to see the house of a man who had such a lasting impact on Southampton village and Long Island’s East End succumb to such a dreary state?
Images: Front above, Walter R. Burling middle, Rear below.

[1] History of Long Island, by Ross & Pelletreau, 1905
[2] Long Islander, Feb. 2, 1912

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