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:, 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:

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 ( 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.” ( 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.