July 26, 2006
Introducing Historic Eastport
If historic buildings are considered gems in today's culture, Eastport is a veritable treasure chest.
So believes Charles Bellows, chairman of Southampton Town's Landmarks & Historic Districts, and Ronald Michne, who has written extensively on the subject and completed a study of the area.
Bellows and Michne appeared before the Southampton Town Board at Friday's work session to give a presentation on Eastport and why they believe it should be designated as a hamlet heritage resource area.
As this publication went to press, the town board was slated to vote on the issue at yesterday's regular town board meeting.
Both Bellows and Michne believe the Eastport site selection, which includes properties along Montauk Highway that form the Brookhaven Town line to East Pond Lane, meets the criteria for a hamlet heritage resource area.
Bellows pointed out that 45 houses, located on a one-mile stretch of Montauk Highway, are a treasure, with some of the facades dating back to the 1700s. "This is what Long Island really looked like," he said. "I can't think of another place in Southampton Town where you have a mile of houses like that."
The area also includes a historic wooden schoolhouse and a blacksmith's shop that still sports its original heat bellows.
The town board voted for a similar designation for Water Mill; next up are Speonk, Remsenburg, Hampton Bays and Quiogue.
Bellows and Michne came before the board to request funding for signage to be placed along the gateway to Eastport; the resolution would authorize funding of the signage to designate the area. Councilman Steve Kenny proposed that the signs for Water Mill and Eastport be ordered simultaneously.
The resolution states that structures in the proposed area were built between 1775 and 1955. Other historic features of the area include five homes dating back to the late 1700s, twenty-two 19th Century homes, an 1853 Eastport Church, three cemeteries, a 1928 school, a 1922 soldier's memorial and commercial buildings dating to the 1930s.
The majority of the buildings in the area were built by local craftsmen following the East End building tradition including examples of saltbox, Victorian, shingle and craftsmen bungalow architectural style.
By passing the resolution, the town board would be acknowledging that similar buildings, when grouped together, convey the heritage of an area.
Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney said such efforts "celebrate not just who we were in the past, but who we are as a community in the present."
Preserving the historical element of a community, he said, enriches the overall quality of life for residents in an area.
Heaney added, though, that he prefers the stewardship and support of residents to maintain its historical integrity on a voluntary basis, "rather than to mandate what people can and cannot do in their own homes."
But the supervisor believes that preservation of the past for future generations presents "intangible benefits to the entire town."