Monday, February 27, 2012

783 Hill Street: Two General Stores


The little one-and-a-half story folk-house pictured above (if you can see it) has sadly been abandoned and somewhat overtaken by Mother Nature.  It seems to be located within Southampton Village’s Hill Street historic district which is supposed to help ensure that it be properly cared for, but that code is not always enforced.


Believe it or not, before it was a house, it was a general store, built in the late 1800s. It was converted into a dwelling in 1896 by Joseph H. Elliston (1869-1931).


There are two other structures on this property: a second store, built in 1896 by Joseph H. Elliston, which is now a private home; and an old barn of unknown vintage, now a garage/apartment. These two structures are still in use and appear to be in much better shape.

The old store adds a lot of historic character to the immediate vicinity and has always made me curious about the property’s history. It was owned by the Elliston family until 1944, and acquired by the McLauchlens from 1947 to 2010. The McLauchlen Real Estate Company has an office next door, to the west, in a non-historic building.

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

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Look-Alikes #2

Layton Avenue, a street laid-out circa 1885 which runs in the east-west direction between North Main Street and Elm Street, contains at least two sets of twins or look-alikes, and one set of them are numbered 83 (pictured just below) and 95 (pictured further below) respectively, located on the north side of the road. 83 is on the northeast corner of Maple Street, and 95 is immediately east of 83.


Lots along Layton Avenue seem to have begun being developed in 1887 when a subdivison map called the "Eldridge Block" was filed. Built circa 1888, both 83 & 95 are in the Queen Anne Style and are two stories tall with primary front-facing gables and shallow side cross gables. They are practically twins and only differ in their detailing and roof slopes. Being among the oldest and most nicely detailed houses on the street, they add a lot of character to the neighborhood.

83, on the corner, has windows that are not symmetrically arranged and gable ends that are projected. It also has a second-story projection over its western bay window which may or may not be original.

95, one east of 83, has symmetrically arranged windows, different eave details which turn out at the ends, and has had part of its wrap-around porch enclosed.

Both of them have wrap-around porches but one has simple square columns and the other has a half-wall and shingled columns; both of them probably had turned columns originally. Also, they both have two-over-two double-hung windows and use a variety of shingle patterns to decorate their elevations, a very common Queen Anne detail.

An architect named Daniel T. Wells seems to have been the mastermind behind these houses. He lived at #83, and the builder of the homes, Harry Clancy, lived at #95; a convenient arrangement.

Daniel T. Wells (b. 1854) was from Southold and married Carrie B. Ginty in 1878. Together they had one daughter, Ruby, in 1886, but sadly Carrie died in 1890, not living long enough to enjoy her daughter, or her new Southampton home.


Henry "Harry" Clancy (1861-1942), the builder, was also a widow. He married his first wife in 1891 and they had one child, a son (Leland), who died as a young man serving our country during the first World War. He was delivering a message via motorcycle when a bridge he crossed was blown-up by the enemy, causing him to drown in the river below. Harry went on to marry again to a woman 22 years younger who eventually outlived him. She sold the house to a neighbor, Howard Uhll, in 1946, four years after Harry died.

At the time that Wells and Clancy had their homes built, the land across the street to the south was a farm. But slowly the farm owner (a Halsey) sold off pieces of the property until the southern side of Layton Avneue became fully lined with new houses, around 1915. In 1910 at least 8 of the heads of households were involved in the building trade, making Layton Avenue more like "builder's row."

Coincidentally, the current owners of #95, the Fanning family, are planning to add-on to and significantly renovate their house in the near future; the application is scheduled to be reviewed at the next Architectural Review Board meeting on Monday, February 13th. I wonder how much it will resemble #83 when it's finished? The additions are mainly to the rear, but what worries me are the plans to give the house a new foundation, new siding, roofing, windows, doors, electrical wiring, and plumbing. It sounds like a total reconstruction (and conversely not a restoration/rehabilitation), leaving little left of the original architecture, like we recently saw occur at #67 Layton. I certainly hope that will not be the case here, eliminating yet another historic resource from our lovely village. I hope at the very least, windows with two-over-two divided lights and the variety of shingle patterns will be maintained, continuing the house's Queen Anne style, and its relationship to its neighbor.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm Back!

Hello world, or Southampton Village Review readers anyway. My book is finally in a manageable state and so I will be returning to you very shortly and have a long list of things to write about! I am sorry to have had to put this blog on the back burner for almost two months, but it had to be done: that book wasn't going to write itself!!! Look for a new post up by tomorrow morning, and again regularly from this point forward! Thanks for bearing with me!