Friday, November 7, 2014

Pyrrus Concer - His Life, His Family, His Home, and His Legacy - Presentation

Hello world. I haven't blogged in awhile. I am finishing up my second book due out in April. I will hopefully resume blogging in full force by January or February 2015. In the meantime, I will be giving a second - and much improved - presentation on Pyrrhus Concer on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, at 2pm at the Eastville Historical Society in Sag Harbor. I am honored to have been asked to present and am looking forward to it. Sorry for the late notice. If you've missed all the hoopla over the past 14 months, you'll learn A LOT.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More Inspiration

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

186 Crescent Av, Water Mill - "Penny Haven"

186 Crescent Avenue, Water Mill
The home at 186 Crescent Avenue was built about 1785 for Caleb Halsey (1755-1810). It was originally located just up the road at about 258 Halsey Lane, where the land continues to be owned by the Halsey family since before 1750.

About 1929, Lawrence Halsey (1881-1965) sold the house for $200 to Mr. and Mrs. Hendricks V. Duryea who had it moved down to the end of the not yet created Crescent Avenue and renovated into a Colonial Revival style summer retreat. Hendricks, known as "Drix" was a famous architectural photographer and muralist as well as a descendent of the wealthy starch manufacturing family from Glen Cove. During the renovation, when taking up floor boards in the attic, they discovered a penny from 1804, thus choosing the name "Penny Haven" for the residence. They hired the architectural firm of Goodwillie & Moran to design the renovation, a very well-known firm that also designed "Stone Eagles", a Tudor style mansion in Montclair, New Jersey listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Penny Haven in its original location about 1890. Note the original center chimney.
Penny Haven in its original location, about 1925. Note the dual internal chimneys and the new bay window.
After the Duryeas, the home was owned by Eleanor Tyson Bridgman until 1956, by George and Mary Kent Jr. until 1967, by Samuel H. Swint Jr., until 1987, and then by the Sargent family, before selling it in January 2012 to Andrew Zaro. Mr. Zaro had negotiated with the Halsey family in 2013 for them to take the house back to their property and pay all related expenses. That deal fell through. Mr. Zaro is now applying with the town to have the structure demolished. He is aware of the house's age and local significance but is not interested in preserving it. Let's hope he and the Halsey family might come to some 11th hour agreement.

The rear of the home today. This rear/water side was originally the front. The original front door survives.
See the NY Post article out today about the house here:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Please Support this Code Change - June 24, 2014

Private Residence, Montauk Highway, Westhampton
The Town of Southampton is considering making a change to their codes that would provide an attractive perk to some owners of historic structures. In exchange for designating them as local landmarks, they would be able to have a legal guest (aka "carriage") house on their property WITHOUT having to acquire a development right.

Private Residence, Eastport
Local landmark designation adds a preservation layer to the historic structure(s) situated there and to its context. Any changes to the property and the building(s) have to get approval from the local Landmarks Board. The same situation exists all over the place, here in Sag Harbor and Southampton Village, in Cape Cod and many other places in Massachusetts, in New York City, in Savannah, Georgia, in Charleston, South Carolina, etc. These local designation codes were put into effect across the country in the late 1960s-early 1980s in order to protect the historic fabric of each town, a critical component to every place's identity. Local landmark designation does NOT reduce property values, mean you can't change or enlarge your house, or inundate you with restrictions.

Ezekiel Sandford House, Bridgehampton
Development rights are a traded commodity. You've probably heard of them when farm owners sell the development rights to their property. Each property inherently has development rights. In order to increase the density of your property, you have to acquire more development rights. In the town of Southampton, if you want a guest (aka "carriage") house on your property, in addition to meeting minimum lot size and other criteria, you have to buy, or "transfer", a development right. Out here, east of the canal they can be purchased for about $100,000 each; west of the canal, the cost is about $50,000. However, if you are an owner of a qualifying historic structure, and you are willing to designate it as a landmark, you can have a legal guest (aka "carriage") house without having to acquire the development right; the town will simply extinguish one of the development rights in their bank of rights, in exchange for you adding this layer of preservation protection to your property.

437 Flanders Road, Riverside
This is a very important code change because out here in Southampton, owners need more incentive to protect their historic structures. Sentimental value is caving under the more attractive purchase prices savvy developers are able to offer.

724 Montauk Highway, East Quogue
Sprinkled throughout this post are images of homes that would benefit from this code change. Like every code change, however, public input is needed. The town board will consider this code change at a public hearing, June 24th, at 6pm, at town hall: 116 Hampton Road, Southampton, NY 11968. Public input is very much needed. If you are able to come speak in support, your participation will be welcome and valuable. If you cannot, please consider sending an email to the town clerk ( that says something along the lines of "I urge the town board to approved the proposed change to codes 330-9D(4) and 330-324(D)," and be sure to include your name and address. Copying me would also be nice.

Fingers crossed!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Philip Johnson's Farney House

In case you haven't heard, the new owners of Philip Johnson's Farney house have applied to have it demolished. Not exactly funny when the demolition of his Ford addition in Southampton Village is still being reviewed by the Southampton Village Architectural Review Board. While the two property owners may know of each other, the coincidence, from this lay person's perspective anyway, seems to end there.

Nonetheless, the community (locals, real estate brokers, architecture fans, historic preservationists, etc.) should rally together to save the Farney House. It was built in 1946 and added onto with the utmost sensitivity and respect for the original structure twice, in the 70s and 80s. It is still completely recognizable and, frankly, breath-taking.

The new owners are Zach and Lori Schreiber and they have hired Robert A. M. Stern to build their replacement house. That's very interesting. Stern and Johnson didn't have a love-love relationship. But I digress.

The important objective here is to save the Farney house, which, actually, shouldn't be that difficult. Rather than thinking of this as a demolition application, the owners, the Sagaponack Village ARB, and all other related and useful parties, should be actively promoting this home for donation/relocation. It's a work of art! It's a Miesian glass box. I'm sure there are plenty of Hamptonites that can't afford a $24 million oceanside parcel in Sagaponack, but sure can afford Sagaponack real estate on which to locate their very own Johnson original. That house would be sculptural on just about any lot. See my "free buildings" list for contact info.

Here's Curbed's post:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

More Inspiration

"....I have no vindictive feeling to pacify, no insulted pride to avenge, no soaring ambition to gratify - but am governed by a sincere and single desire to make known the facts...."
-Dr. James McCune Smith, New York, January 11th, 1844

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pyrrhus Concer - 200th Birthday Celebration

My previous Pyrrhus Concer post has been taken down and is being reworked based on new information. I will be participating in a public presentation at the Southampton Historical Museum on March 22, 2014 at 2pm and look forward to sharing all that I know, and all that I have learned, about this very interesting, although somewhat mysterious man. Hope to see you there.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Moment of Inspiration

"Don't worry about the haters...They are just angry because the truth you speak contradicts the lie they live." -Dr. Steve Maraboli

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Southampton Village to Boot Philip Johnson?

436 Gin Lane: "Halcyon Lodge"

Halcyon Lodge is a rare surviving two-and-a-half story example of the Stick Style in Southampton Village, of which there may only be one other remaining. In 1951 it received an addition designed by Philip Johnson for Mr. & Mrs. Henry Ford II. The current owners are now requesting to demolish the residence.
After purchasing this parcel of Gin Lane from the local Foster family for $2,392.50 in 1881, Dr. T. Gaillard Thomas sold it ten years later to Reverend William “Billy” Chester and his wife, Marion (Merrill) Chester for $1,500. Halcyon Lodge was built shortly thereafter. Dr. Thomas is usually referred to as the founder of Southampton Village's Cottage Colony, and this section of Gin Lane was developed specifically by his doing. The road would not even exist at this end if he hadn't made it happen.

The home is clad with gray-painted shingle siding originally applied within gridded stick work which also served as an organizing element of the fenestration. Overall, the house is rectangular in plan, with a front-facing gable, a west-facing cross gable and gabled and hipped dormers. The main north–south gables, which have wave-patterned shingles, overhang the second story by approximately thirty inches and are supported by extended and profiled bracket consoles, as is a second-story front- facing square bay projection. The eaves have exposed rafter ends. The windows were probably double-hung units originally, with two-over-two or six-over-two divided-light patterns, but have since been replaced. They are paired with paneled yellow shutters with alternating diamond- and heart-shaped cutouts. The beach side has a covered porch that wraps around the west side which is topped by a bay window and into which a shallow balcony is carved. To the west is a one-story flat-roofed original wing that used to have a decorative railing on top that matched the driveway gates. To the east is the Philip Johnson wing. It is two-stories and flat-roofed of course, constructed of glass, wood and steel. Its north and south fa├žades are glass and steel with operable canvas awnings on each story to diffuse the severity of the sun during the summer season, while its east and west sides are clad in vertical weathered California redwood. Glass and steel walkways connect the addition to the main cottage on both levels at staggered points. The architecture of both the Stick-style cottage and the eastern addition stand alone, distinctly adjacent yet quietly joined, providing anything but an inharmonious juxtaposition.
Halcyon, which is defined as denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful, was the name given to the cottage by its creators, Reverend and Mrs. William Chester. Reverend Chester (b.1867) was a grandson of Reverend Doctor William Chester, a distinguished minister of the American Presbyterian Church.

In 1946, the cottage was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford II. Anne McDonnell Ford (1920–1996) was the second daughter of the prominent Irish American McDonnell family. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Francis McDonnell Jr., owned a lot of property and resided in the nearby Wickapogue area, incorporated into the village’s boundaries around 1915. Her father was the founder of the Wall Street firm McDonnell & Company, and her grandfather was the noted electrical engineer and inventor Thomas E. Murray. After serving in the navy during World War II, “HF2” (1917–1987) was president of the Ford Motor Company, founded by his grandfather, from 1945 to 1960 and chief executive officer from 1960 to 1979. Anne was the first of his three wives. They were married in 1940 in Southampton at the Roman Catholic church Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and some referred to the marriage as the union of two of Irish America’s most powerful families.

The public hearing is scheduled for this Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7pm, at Southampton Village Hall, 23 Main Street.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Disguised Infrastructure

Here's an interesting Fox network video clip to entertain you: It's not a novel idea, there's even at least one such building already in existence here in Southampton Village (not quite as successful however), but the concept is especially interesting within certain contexts.