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.

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