Pyrrhus Concer Site (late 19th century) - Source Bettman Archives
Pyrrhus Concer House 2014 - Demolition begins by owner
North facade with the surviving eave boards and moldings offering visible clues to the possible antiquity of the original structure
Original recessed wall panels beneath the 6/6 windows discovered in the northeast corner room
The appearance of a 'chair rail' in this second floor bedroom actually concealed its original true function as the rafter plate
The deconstructed north room on the second floor reveals posts with tenons which attached to the mortised top plate previously thought to be a 'chair rail'
Reciprocally sawn (not circular sawn) floor joists suggest a date of construction from the early to mid-19th C.
Uncovered 19th C. wide plank flooring revealed the first enlargement to the north of the original house
Original studs and braces identified by Roman numerals chiseled into each piece by the first builder
Original 'gunstock' post closest to the surviving brick chimney shows signs of a fire during its history
Original southwest corner post with tenon rising above the second floor to create front and back knee walls
A full 3 inch wide sawn floor joist is typical of the early 19th C building period on Eastern Long Island
Current site of Pyrrhus Concer Homestead in Southampton Village



The structural frame and surviving architectural detailing of the Pyrrhus Concer Homestead, formerly located at 51 Pond Lane, Southampton, NY, has been carefully investigated, labeled, disassembled and removed from its building site and placed in temporary storage. The salvaged house frame appears to date from the early to mid-19th century, but was substantially enlarged and altered in the modern period. The concealed structural elements are of historical importance and link the house to the life of the noted African-American Southampton resident, Pyrrhus Concer.

Identification and salvage of significant architectural fabric makes it possible to reconstruct and restore the Pyrrhus Concer Homestead as a landmark having local and potential national significance.


Prior to its disassembly and removal from the site, the house was a two-story, six-bay dwelling with a flat-pitched gable roof and small brick chimney centered on the peak of the roof. A long, shed-roofed porch supported on six Doric columns stretched the length of the front (east) façade, and was made accessible via a wooden staircase.  Lean-to extensions from the back of the house (west) were of one story. Most of the exposed foundation, visible on the side (south) façade was constructed of concrete blocks cast to simulate real stone and were characteristic of early 20th century construction technology and design. Window sashes, doors, gutters and leaders, and architectural trim had been replaced or altered; the painted wood shingle siding, having a 5” weather (exposure) and concealed nailing, was also replaced in the modern period.

The massing of the house prior to disassembly, when it consisted of an elongated two-story rectangular block and one-story extensions to the back, provided little evidence of its historic origins and held little promise for discovery. Only the irregular spacing of the window sash on the front façade and the survival of eave boards and moldings on the north façade offered visible clues to the possible antiquity of the original structure.


The interior of the house was altered and modernized with ceiling, wall and floor finishes, new doors and hardware, and trim. On the first floor, partitions were removed at the center of the house to create an “open floor plan” and the staircases leading to the second story and cellar were rebuilt.  A fireplace with partially exposed brick and a polished stone hearth projected from the north wall of the central room.  A cluster of small rooms at the south end of the plan retained 5-panel doors and hardware of a type associated with the early 20th century (consistent with the concrete block foundation visible beneath them and visible on the exterior). A large, modern kitchen occupied the central and north lean-to spaces projecting at the back. Only the small northeast corner room, which preserved two six-over-six windows on the front façade and a single window of the same configuration on the north, appeared to date from the 19th century. Its recessed wall panels beneath each window and molded casings were characteristic of the late Greek-Revival style, c. 1850. Closer investigation revealed a surviving door casing leading from the room into the central room, which also appeared to date from this historic period. Later removals revealed much of the lath-and-plaster system to be consistent with this period as well.

On the second story, the staircase led to an open landing set against the back wall, from which access could be made to bed chambers and bathrooms arranged along the front (east) wall.  Doors and windows, hardware, ceiling and wall fabric all appeared to have been updated. Only one distinctive feature – wide pine floorboards – was partially exposed, suggesting historic construction. Another element proved more indicative of the massing of the original house and suggested that more of the structure survived within the wall frame. These were the “knee walls” at the front and back, which projected into the rooms about 2 feet above the floor, but no longer supported the roof frame which had been raised to a full second story.  The “knee walls” proved to be a key architectural feature that survived from an earlier house of only one-and-one-half stories; a house that was more compact, and one that clearly pre-dated that which was later enlarged and altered.

On the basement level, the overhead tier of joists that supported the first floor was fully exposed, making visual assessment possible. Four distinct systems of structural framing were visible: one at the center of the house supporting the large middle room; a second underlying the northeast corner room; a third stretching across the back, and corresponding to the kitchen/lean-to; and a fourth supporting the south end of the main house and its associated west lean-to. Three of these systems appeared historic; the fourth at the south end was of later construction and appeared to date from a 20th century extension of the house. The relatively large sectional dimensions of the historic joists and sills and the parallel saw marks were indicative of their date(s) of fabrication, suggesting a date of construction spanning from the early to the mid-19th century.   The center section, which preserved hewn wooden perimeter sills characteristic of even earlier workmanship, may date from the late 18th century. The northeast section and back lean-to areas were more similar in appearance with each other and indicative of later 19th century work.

A summary of the structural evidence on this level is that the center, north and back lean-to systems of floor joists and sills were historic and dated from the 19th century, and revealed an additive sequence of construction with the center being the first and enlarged first to the north and then to the back.


With compelling structural evidence supporting the hypothesis that a historic house frame survived within the enlarged and altered house at 51 Pond Lane, careful deconstruction by hand was commenced. Features such as the surviving knee walls of the second story revealed not only the massing of a one-and-one-half story house, but also that its wall posts, studs and braces (front and back) were likely to survive as well.  Similarly, despite the raised roof frame across the entire structure, the north end wall framing with its original pair of rafters was likely to remain embedded beneath later wall covering (exterior and interior). Wide pine floorboards were thought to survive beneath later flooring. And so on.  Systematic disassembly of the house frame proved the hypothesis that much of the historic structure remained intact.


Despite the near total loss of interior architectural fabric such as doors and windows, baseboards and casings, mantelpieces and decorative trim, the Pyrrhus Concer Homestead survives as a structural frame preserving wall posts, studs, and braces as well as interior floor joists and a pair of rafters that will serve as prototypes for restoring the roof. Although wall and ceiling lath-and-plaster also survived in part, it obstructed the disassembly and preservation of the frame and after study and documentation, was removed. The brick chimney, which appeared to preserve some historic fabric, had been extensively altered and therefore removal after photo documentation was appropriate. The one-and-one-half story house, with corner posts rising above the second floor to create front and back knee walls, became the focus of the salvage work, which succeeded in identifying and removing a substantial amount of the original frame.

One of the most challenging aspects of the project is envisioning the appearance of the original house and its historic additions. In fact, preliminary investigation, salvage and analysis suggest that the earliest section of the frame – the portion that corresponded to the large middle room of the house – was probably not a house to begin with, but more likely an accessory structure, like a small barn. The primary structural evidence for this is its lack of a heating system (chimney); despite a relatively intact system of floor joists on both first and second story levels, no chimney appears to date from the original structure. This lack of a heating source – a defining feature fundamental to all domestic architecture – suggests that the building first served an alternative purpose and may have been an outbuilding within a village farm setting at first. The surviving brick chimney appears to have been built at a later time, after the earlier structure was enlarged and converted for use as a dwelling, in a period in which cast iron stoves were employed as supplementary heating sources.


With the addition of the rooms to the north, there is no question that the structure had became a dwelling as a result of this program, as evidenced by the decorative window treatments so characteristic of the Greek Revival style. It is likely that the chimney was constructed at this time as well, to furnish heat to a building converted for residential use. It is also probable that the back lean-to was built at this time as well, to provide space for another necessary domestic function – the kitchen. The floor joists that support the lean-to appear to date from the same period as those that support the north room, thus an expansion and conversion for residential use of the original accessory building at one time in the mid-19th century appears likely.

This “layering” or additive sequencing in the construction of the Pyrrhus Concer Homestead provides a fascinating glimpse into the way in which some domestic architecture evolved and adapted in 19th century eastern Long Island. In fact, the re-purposing or alteration of pre-existing structural frames was not uncommon in post-Colonial America;

One early example dating from the late 17th century survives in Easthampton in the form of a utilitarian warehouse that was recycled as an addition to a contemporary house. The inherent value of sawn building elements pre-assembled as a structure serving any purpose has been self-evident across the centuries, and their adaptive reuse was appropriate and not uncommon. The preservation and restoration of the Pyrrhus Concer Homestead is enhanced by an understanding of how its structural frame and finishes evolved to suit the owner’s and his family’s needs.


The Pyrrhus Concer Homestead is an architectural resource of great historical significance to the Village of Southampton. Its association with a person of importance not only to village history, but also to that of the town, region and nation as a whole, provides ample context for its reconstruction and restoration elsewhere within the village. It is recommended that a site be chosen that provides the best possible opportunity for recreating both the house and the setting within which Pyrrhus Concer left a lasting imprint on the Village of Southampton; i.e., in the vicinity of Lake Agawam.

To provide lasting protection and recognition, it is recommended that the Pyrrhus Concer Homestead be granted landmark designation in accordance with village code. The relevant criteria that would justify and fulfill that designation are village criteria numbers one and two: “Special character or historic/aesthetic interest or value as part of cultural/political/economic or social history of the locality” and “Identified with a historic personage.” Landmark designation of the Pyrrhus Concer Homestead would signify a broad understanding of the important role that African-Americans have played in the development of the Village of Southampton.

Identification and salvage of significant architectural fabric makes it possible to reconstruct and restore the Pyrrhus Concer Homestead as a landmark having local and potential national significance.


News 12 - Robert Strada - Peconic Historic Preservation

VIDEO: News 12 Long Island – Extended interview with preservationist Robert Strada February 27, 2017


CBS News New York – Southampton Residents Furious After Owners Tear Down Historic Home, Build Nothing
January 15, 2015


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