Monday, April 1, 2013

I Quit...

After four years, more or less, I'm done. The business of historic preservation out here in the hamptons has thoroughly exhausted me and I am finally throwing in the towel. I've been overwhelmed for some time, and feeling very alone in my efforts to promote preservation in Southampton and defeat the many myths ingrained in the public mindset. Not to mention the fact that you can hardly make a living at it!

This is what really pushed me over the edge. I was recently researching one of the oldest surviving structures in Southampton Village and went to Rogers Memorial Library to look at a book called Manor Houses and Historic Homes of Long island and Staten Island, by Harold Donaldson Eberlein, published in 1928. While looking for something completely different, this is what I found:

“Although the Village of Southampton was one of the earliest settled places in Suffolk, the visible evidences of this antiquity have been overlaid, to a great extent, by the effects of modern popularity as a social nucleus of the surrounding region. Many of the oldest houses have disappeared, while others have been so altered or so added to that their original quality is not at once evident. With the disappearance or disguise of so many of the ancient dwellings, the highly interesting historic character of the village has been somewhat obscured. .... When one sees the houses that still represent Southampton’s early days, one deeply regrets that the village could not have preserved its pristine appearance unchanged.”
Eighty-five years later and here we are, saying the same thing. I know history repeats itself, but wow, haven't we made even the slightest headway?

APRIL FOOLS!! 

No, I'm not quitting, not even close. I am just as committed to historic preservation on the East End as I ever have been, and even more so. I really did, however, come across that passage last week at the library and pause. It still rings true today and that's depressing. But I am proud of my [few] accomplishments over the past years in the field of historic preservation (myth busting, landmark designations, code changes, a book, etc.), and have many more goals to accomplish before I'll ever think of quitting. I only hope that I can inspire others to join me - here or elsewhere - as there is much work still to do.

Happy April/Spring Everyone!
(p.s. I'm not much of a prankster, as you may be able to tell.)

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