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Brooks Park Historic Site

Brooks Park Heritage ProjectIn December 1959, the East Hampton Town Building Department issued a building permit for the construction of a “purpose-built” art studio for James Brooks. Eight years earlier Brooks had become a leading member of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Designed by Brooks himself and constructed in the early 1960’s, this modern structure is a prime example of functional design.

At the Town Board meeting held on July 17, 2014, Resolution RES-2014-945 was unanimously adopted authorizing the Brooks-Park Historic Designation for the property. Ownership of the property purchased with Community Preservation Funds remains with The Town of East Hampton. The Town will complete all agreed upon renovations on the property during the proposed 18-month renovation period.

On May 8, 2017, the Town of East Hampton entered into a licensing agreement with Peconic Historic Preservation, Inc., for the Brooks Studio and the home he shared with his wife, Charlotte Park, as well as Charlotte’s Studio which are all situated on Neck Path in Springs. Peconic Historic Preservation, Inc., is now licensed to used the premises for artistic activities and programming, including but not limited to: art exhibitions, films, poetry readings, musical, dance and theater performances.

According to the management plan proposed by Peconic Historic Preservation, Inc., the inaugural art exhibition will be James Brooks, Charlotte Park and Friends, scheduled to open to the public on May 15, 2019.

James Brooks Studio – April 2017

James Brooks Studio – April 2017

 


1988 interview of James Brooks and Charlotte Park by Meg Perlman, conducted in their studio in Springs – East Hampton, NY. Video courtesy of the Brooks Park Heritage Project.


SUPPORT THIS PROJECT

Ashawagh Hall in Springs was the location of the Priscilla Bowden Potter Benefit Art Sale over Labor Day Weekend 2017 to support this project. Thanks to the generous donation by the Estate of Priscilla Bowden Potter through the sale of paintings and works on paper by Priscilla Bowden and works from her collection of other artists, including Robert Dash, Jane Freilicher, Tony Stubbing and Jack Youngerman, this Benefit Art Sale raised much needed funding for the restoration of the historic James Brooks and Charlotte Park home and studios in Springs, as well as for future programming at this historic site beginning in May 2019.  All purchases from this sale were 100%-tax deductible donations to Peconic Historic Preservation, Inc., pursuant to Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code.

You can donate directly to this project in the amount of your choosing using the PayPal button below. You do not need to be a PayPal member to donate! To pay using a major credit card, click the “continue” link on the bottom left of the next page after clicking the donate button below.  All Donations are 100% Tax-Deductible.

 




Duck Creek Farm Historic Site

Original c.1795 Edwards farmhouse with c.1890 Gardiner barn in the distance.
Original c.1890 Gardiner Barn was moved here in 1948 from James Lane, East Hampton.
The sawn pine timber frame, overhanging eaves and sliding barn doors are characteristics typical of this period.
John Little added the north windows for natural light after moving the Gardiner Barn to Duck Creek for use as a studio.
Northwest Elevation of restored interior.
Northeast Interior Elevation.

 

On June 30, 2017, the Town of East Hampton entered into a licensing agreement with Peconic Historic Preservation, Inc., for the Duck Creek Farm Historic Site located at 367 Three Mile Harbor Road, East Hampton.  The Town Board designated this a historic landmark site nearly eight years ago on June 5, 2009.  The Duck Creek Farm parcel contains the c. 1795 Edwards House and the c. 1890 Gardiner Barn.

John Edwards built the farmhouse that survives today in 1795.  The farm was operated by Edwards, his sons and grandsons from 1795 to 1902.  The farm contained 130 acres comprising nearly the entire east shore of Three Mile Harbor.  The Edwards House is architecturally significant as an intact example of a two-story “half house”, featuring many existing exterior features including the nineteenth-century windows, the boxed cornice with Federal period moldings, and the early lean-to summer kitchen addition.

The artist John Little purchased Duck Creek Farm in 1948 and later that year moved a barn from the farm of David Johnson Gardiner on James Lane, East Hampton, to Duck Creek Farm for use as a studio.  The c. 1890 Gardiner Barn is architecturally significant as a late representative of the three-bay “English” barn that persisted as the principal type of barn built in East Hampton from the 17th century through the 19th century.  The sawn pine frame, the overhanging eaves and original sliding barn doors are among the characteristics that are typical of this later period.

Duck Creek Farm, as the home and studio of John Little, is also historically significant for illustrating the colony of East Hampton artists of the 1950’s and 1960’s who made important contributions to the artistic movement of abstract expressionism.  The Gardiner Barn, which was John Little’s studio, is the building at Duck Creek Farm that most vividly recalls this era.

An integral part of the licensing agreement with the Town is the management plan proposed by Peconic Historic Preservation, Inc. Although the agreement only started on July 1st, plans were quickly developed for an art exhibition later that month and a free concert for the community in August. Both events were well attended although there was little advance notice to the community since the ink was barely dry on the agreement. Plans are now being developed for the 2018 season at The Duck Creek Farm Barn and they will be noticed to the community in plenty of time to enjoy them. The site will re-open in May 2018. Watch this space for plans for next season’s events.

Your generous support will help cover the costs of operations, utilities, maintenance and equipment such as temporary stages, lecterns, folding chairs and tables as well as any equipment required for the installation of art and artistic events.


SUPPORT THIS PROJECT

You can donate directly to this project in the amount of your choosing using the PayPal button below. You do not need to be a PayPal member to donate! To pay using a major credit card, click the “continue” link on the bottom left of the next page after clicking the donate button below.  All Donations are 100% Tax-Deductible.





Ellis Squires House

Ellis Squires House - SW corner
Ellis Squires House - West Elevation
Ellis Squires House - Facade With Screen Porch
Ellis Squires House - Front Door
Ellis Squires House - Facade Detail
Ellis Squires House - Original 4/4 Window
Ellis Squires House - Original 9/6 Window
Ellis Squires House - Original Shingles
Ellis Squires House - Rubblestone Foundation

Ellis Squires built his Federal style home in 1785, two years after the end of the American Revolutionary War.  It is believed to be the oldest remaining dwelling in the hamlet of Hampton Bays, New York.  Now, two hundred thirty two years later, on February 14, 2017, the Southampton Town Board adopted Resolution 2017-112 authorizing Supervisor Jay Schneiderman to execute a Stewardship Agreement with Peconic Historic Reservation, Inc., the “natural and logical steward of the premises” for the purposes of restoration and management of the property for a period of ten years.

Ten years ago, on July 24, 2007, the Town of Southampton recognized the architectural, historic and cultural values and significance of the building and setting and designated it a town historic landmark with the adoption of Town Board Resolution 2007-1071 pursuant to Southampton Town Code 330-321 declaring the Ellis Squires House is an important historic resource and contributes to the Hampton Bay’s hamlet’s historic properties.

Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Peconic Historic Preservation, Inc., agrees to preserve and maintain the exterior form, features and original interior details of the Ellis Squires House and will undertake the historic restoration of the building in strict accordance with the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for the Preservation of Historic Buildings.

The Ellis Squires House, located at 186 Newtown Road, is a two-story, gable roofed, shingle clad dwelling of the late 18th century period and is built in that classic Federal style.  The building incorporates single story extensions to the north (rear) and east.  This house is painted white with white trim and roof is currently covered with non-historic composition tab asphalt shingles.  Its front façade faces south and is characterized by three window bays with a front door in the left hand bay that retains side lights and a pedimented entry embellishment with molded pilasters.  The house is supported on its rubble stone foundation that is characteristic of its original construction period and retains a principal brick chimney that dates from the 19th century.

The massing of the main dwelling is roughly square in shape, measuring 22’-6” wide by 28’-6” deep, and the walls are covered with wood cedar shingles measuring their exposed facing at 6” long on the sides and 13” long on the front façade.  It is entirely likely that the longer shingle type may be original and its associated nailing pattern is characteristic of the mid-to-late 18th century construction practice.  The predominant window type is nine-over-six and the sashes are set within molded window casings that are typical of 18th century design.  Several four-over-four windows also survive from this period.  The larger, six-over-six sashes on the side walls are associated with a mid-19th century alteration.

The north (rear) extension and screened porch extending to the east are largely of 20th century construction, although the original 18th century kitchen, which retains hewn structural framing, is incorporated within a portion of the back extension.  The exterior stucco wall treatment and multi-paned windows are typical of early 20th century Long Island “half-house” design and construction practice.

Our goal will be to preserve and maintain critical interior features of the house which include the front parlor mantelpiece, glazed cupboard, panel doors and trim; center room mantelpiece and chair rail; front hall stairway including treads and risers, newel posts, balusters and handrail; board-and-batten doors and hardware; wide board flooring; ceiling frame components including exposed beaded floor joists in the center room and back extension.

Our exterior restoration will include paint removal by hand techniques in order to establish a suitable base coat foundation for repainting; preparation, priming and repainting wood features and surfaces; installation of new roof covering using 18” wood Perfection red cedar shingles measuring a minimum of 6” exposure; replacement in kind of exterior wood shingle siding to match the original 30” Atlantic White Cedar shingles with a 13” exposure and Tremont galvanized cut nails consistent with the original nailing specifications.

Our project begins with the preparation of a Historic Structure Report and architectural drawings.  The HSR provides documentary, graphic and physical information about the Ellis Squires House history and existing conditions.  The report provides a thoughtfully considered argument for selecting the most appropriate approach to treatment prior to commencement of the restoration work, and outlines a scope of recommended work.  The report records the findings of research and investigation, as well as the processes of physical work, for future researchers.

The Town of Southampton remains the fee title owner of the real property on which the Ellis Squires House is situated and acknowledges and supports Peconic Historic Preservation, Inc., in their efforts to raise funds for both the acquisition and preservation of the Premises and the restoration of the existing historic house and its original architectural details.  The Ellis Squires House is set upon a 24,506 sq ft parcel that is adjacent to a 5.9286-acre natural site that is owned by the Town of Southampton Community Preservation Fund.  The proximity of both parcels to the Squires Pond and important wetlands provide a setting for the preserved historic structure that will reflect exactly how Squires lived in the early days of the new nation, over 232 years ago.

On September 28, 2017, following a detailed review of our application, the State Review Board recommended to the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, who is the New York State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), that the property be listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places. On November 9, 2017, we received word from Albany that the Ellis Squires House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


SUPPORT THIS PROJECT

You can donate directly to this project in the amount of your choosing using the PayPal button below. You do not need to be a PayPal member to donate! To pay using a major credit card, click the “continue” link on the bottom left of the next page after clicking the donate button below.  All Donations are 100% Tax-Deductible.





Pyrrhus Concer Homestead

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

 

BACKGROUND

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.

EXTERIOR: PRE-DECONSTRUCTION DESCRIPTION

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.

INTERIOR: PRE-DECONSTRUCTION DESCRIPTION

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.

POST-DECONSTRUCTION DESCRIPTION

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.

STRUCTURAL FRAME

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.

SIGNIFICANCE

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.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PRESERVATION

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.


PRESS

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


SUPPORT THIS PROJECT

You can donate directly to this project in the amount of your choosing using the PayPal button below. You do not need to be a PayPal member to donate! To pay using a major credit card, click the “continue” link on the bottom left of the next page after clicking the donate button below.  All Donations are 100% Tax-Deductible.

 




 

Amagansett Life Saving Station

amagansett_life_saving_stationWhen the Amagansett Station was constructed on Atlantic Avenue in 1902, it was one of a network of thirty life-saving stations on the south shore of Long Island. Through each night and in bad weather the men at these stations kept watch from the lookout tower and by patrolling the beach. Discovering a ship in distress, the life-savers would perform a rescue by launching their surfboat or by firing a line to the ship and taking people off with a breeches buoy. From 1902 to 1937 the crew of the Amagansett Life-Saving Station, most of whom were experienced local fishermen and shore whalers, kept watch over this beach and rescued sailors and passengers from a number of shipwrecks. The Life-Saving Service and the Lighthouse Service were the two federal programs intended to increase the safety of coastal navigation. These two services were later joined in the U. S. Coast Guard. The Amagansett Life-Saving Station complements the Montauk Point Lighthouse in recalling that era of our maritime history when ships sailing the ocean provided the principal means of transporting goods and people in coastal America.

The Amagansett Station is also associated with a notable incident of the Second World War. Coastguardsman John Cullen had just begun a beach patrol from this station early in the morning of June 13, 1942 when he encountered four Nazi agents who had landed from a U-boat. Cullen returned to the Amagansett Station to report the incident. Later in the morning, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Warren Barnes brought into the boat room four boxes of explosives which his men had found buried in the sand. After one of the would-be saboteurs turned himself in to the FBI, the others were apprehended and tried. This Amagansett incident led to the establishment, only a month later, of the Coast Guard Beach Patrol which grew to consist of 24,000 men and was an important component of coastal defense during the war.

The Amagansett Station was abandoned after World War II and in 1966 was auctioned by the Coast Guard. Joel Carmichael purchased the station and moved it to Bluff Road where it had a new life as a residence. In 2007 the Carmichael family donated the Amagansett Life-Saving Station to the Town of East Hampton and it was moved back to its exact original location on Atlantic Avenue.

Changes made to the Amagansett Life-Saving Station since 1943 have removed or obscured a number of its important character-defining features. This report, which documents the history and architecture of the Amagansett Life-Saving Station, substantiates an accurate restoration to its appearance from when it functioned as a life-saving station up to the events of June 13, 1942. The highest priorities are to restore the porch, the boat-room doors, the 2 entrances to the dwelling, the windows and the boat room interior, where the surfboats were kept. The second priority is to treat the interior beyond the boat room. This work will not only restore the integrity of this striking utilitarian building but will also allow it to better recall the local keepers and surfmen who risked their lives rescuing shipwrecked sailors and to evoke its associations with the experiences of John Cullen and others stationed here on the morning of June 13, 1942.


SUPPORT THIS PROJECT

You can donate directly to this project in the amount of your choosing using the PayPal button below. You do not need to be a PayPal member to donate! To pay using a major credit card, click the “continue” link on the bottom left of the next page after clicking the donate button below.  All Donations are 100% Tax-Deductible.





1740 Colonial Classic

Historians date this house to 1740 with its massive period central-chimney design. It was originally built in Connecticut and, in the late nineteenth century, moved across Long Island Sound to Sag Harbor before reconstruction in Southampton near Gin Lane. We secured the funds necessary to deconstruct this important historic structure, preventing it from being demolished and lost forever.  Now we are fundraising through the Peconic Historic Preservation General Fund to secure a new site to reconstruct this unique example of early American architecture.

1740 Colonial Classic, 444 Little Plains Road, Southampton, New York  – Front elevation

The early domestic architecture of the American colonies, applying the criteria of truth as the fundamental principle of architecture, was unmistakably pure. Up to about the middle of the eighteenth century, when the central-chimney period drew to a close, “utility” had been the determining influence on the evolution of each stage of a house plan. The chimney had been the central feature. From its position behind the stairs, it not only dominated, but also actually governed the floor plan. This decisive factor then gave way to other influences: Economy and intimacy of room arrangement were replaced with spaciousness and formality; massive construction was replaced by elegance and refinement of detail. This house, then, possesses both utility and refinement of detail, as shown in the following images, which reflect the massive timber frame structure that is completely original and typical of the first building period in America and their refinements of the craftsmanship and architectural details.

Early houses were extremely simple, and their simplicity was the naturally the result of finding forthright solutions to design problems, which were intrinsically anything but complex. The glazed transom design above the front door was more the result of actual need than a deliberate attempt at ornamentation, as shown below. Giving it the character of an architrave, moldings were applied to the casing and glass transom lights were added above the door itself, but enclosed by the doorframe. Simple crown moldings were added above the architrave trim making this entire composition dignified and well proportioned, though of the utmost simplicity and completely original. Original pilasters are found at either side of the entrance.

Front door transom

1740 Colonial – Front door transom

Front room interior elevation

Front room interior elevation

The original barrel-back corner cupboard, shown above and in the following image, has a prominent position in the house because of its classically beautiful form. The corner cupboard is generally to be found in the “best room,” or parlor. Its position against the outside wall was well fixed and it is rarely found against the chimney wall. The corner cupboard is always to be found divided into two parts, an upper and a lower, by a shelf that is generally placed about thirty inches from the floor. This cupboard has handsomely paneled doors, which are flush with the rest of the woodwork.

The crown molding at the top of the corner cupboard is only one of two crown moldings to be found in the interior of the house. This is a vestige of tradition in the early Colonial homes, where the broad-ax hewn timbers straight from tree trunks remain the only characteristic of ornamentation. In the earliest homes, built before the advent of plastering, the exposed portions of the girts, posts and summers, which projected into the rooms beyond the thickness of the walls, were left perfectly bare. It was the massive timbers made typically from oak, as in this house, that provided the needed sense of security that was exposed as decoration. Oak was the material chosen by the early builders for the house frame because they knew from experience that, although it was extremely difficult to shape and handle, once it had been put in place it undeniably stayed put.

Original barrel-back corner cupboard

Original wide plank flooring and joists

Original wide plank flooring and joists

Prior to the advent of plastering, wainscoting was used to finish the interior walls of the earliest homes in America. Consisting of broad pine boards with beveled or molded edges, wainscoting extended from floor to ceiling and it is quite remarkable that these original paneled walls found in this historic house exist today as a testimony to this elegant example of early American architecture. The occurrence of even a single room, which is wainscoted throughout, is rare.

The original six-panel doors are constructed very simply, consisting of cross rails tenoned into the vertical stiles and enclosing bevel-edged panels. The door panels consist of two lower panels equal in size to the two middle panels with the door hardware positioned mid- way. The two smaller panels sit at the top of the door and are horizontal rectangles, nearly square, with those below being rectangular and longer.

Original wall paneling

Second Floor Bedroom

Even after the use of plaster for the front rooms of the house had become the rule, wainscot was still used for finishing the walls of the rear rooms, especially the kitchen and the less important rooms of the second floor. The plaster walls carry on from the floor to ceiling wainscot requiring a baseboard to finish the plaster against the wide plank floors. It might be said that the original wainscot shrank to become the present baseboard.

A very unique and original architectural feature of this 1740 Colonial house are the raised panels integrated into the lower section of the window frame detail or just beneath the nine- over-six (9/6) sashes. These raised panels are further evidence of the house actually consisting of two early structures that were combined because the raised panels are integrated only into the interior three window frames in the front corner room of the main floor and the front window at the top of the stairs and adjacent two front window frames in the master bedroom. This interior woodwork is outstanding because these panels are one of the few examples of ornamentation in the house.

Window trim and original decorative panel

The original winding staircase was deconstructed completely assembled and remains intact. The staircase is found directly in front of the massive central chimney, a design detail that became the rule and established stair placement throughout the first building period. Stairs from that period also became standardized in dimensions and type. There appears to have been no fixed rule as to whether the stairs were made right- or left-handed (right-hand stairs are those which have the handrail on the right-hand side, so that the person ascending the stairs turns to the right; left-hand stairs reverse this arrangement).

The original balustrade exists intact and reveals the early form of turning and finishing the wood. Simple but elegant. The newel post at the bottom of the stairs is typical of the period. It is turned and finished with a molded cap that is formed by the mitered intersection of the handrail. There is no newel post at the top of the stairs, only the winding of the handrail to join the top horizontal section.

Second Floor landing

The wide plank flooring observed throughout appears to be original. It is indeed very old, but simply because floors received more actual wear than any other part of the house, often having to be replaced, it is difficult to say if all of the wide plank flooring is from the original house. A variety of hard pine succeeded oak as a flooring material and this material is of that native variety.

As we mentioned earlier, wainscot as a form of interior wall covering gave way to plaster, although the use of wood as a covering of the fireplace walls persisted until a later date. The paneling of fireplace walls from 1740 – 1750 onward is nearly always of great beauty and elegance and forms one of the most distinctive features of the house. The paneling, shown in the image below, above the mid-20th century fireplace, is original. The use of paneled woodwork on the fireplace wall did not persist after 1800. As reported in the Southampton Press story written by Michael Wright in 2006, the mason who reconstructed the chimney actually revealed his identity by signing the stone: W. Darby, dated his work January 11, 1944.

The niche in the master bedroom, shown in the following image, reflects the transitional period for the refinement of detail. Here we see the only other crown molding in interior of the house, the other being at the corner cupboard on the first floor. The moldings shown in this niche are fabricated by hand with a set of specially designed planes. Inasmuch as every builder had his own set of planes, the individual builder often employed moldings or combinations of moldings, which remained particular to their work and strongly flavored by his taste. The imperfections found in the niche molding reflect the handcrafting of the wood.

So join our effort to secure a new site to reconstruct this unique example of early American architecture.  Your contribution to our General Fund will help make the reconstruction a reality.

Original niche trim

Original niche trim (detail)

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