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Jun 7, 2016 2:05 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Pyrrhus Concer Homestead Dig Turns Up Lost Treasures

City University of New York Ph.D. student Cara Frissell excavates on Saturday at the Pond Lane property where the Pyrrhus Concer house onece stand.  DANA SHAW
Jun 7, 2016 4:19 PM

The property at 51 Pond Lane in Southampton Village, once the home of historic figure Pyrrhus Concer, was the scene of an archaeological dig this week that turned out to be productive.

Dr. Allison McGovern, an independent archaeologist who teaches at Farmingdale State College, and four crew members found pieces of buried treasure. They included a painted marble, whiteware ceramics, a bodkin needle that could have been used for lacing a corset or ribbon, a gun flint, a calligraphy brush, bottle glass and a silver belt buckle.

The dig, which began on Saturday and focused on different areas of the property, wrapped up on Monday afternoon.

Dr. McGovern said she was hired by the Pyrrhus Concer Action Committee because of her interest in African-American and Native American history on the East End. Pyrrhus Concer was a 19th century African-American Southampton resident who was a whaler and a member of a crew that saved stranded Japanese sailors, making him one of the first Americans, let alone the first person of color, to visit then-restricted Japan.

“The dig was very successful, and I commend [Dr.] Allison McGovern,” said Brenda Simmons, a member of the Pyrrhus Concer Action Committee and co-founder and executive director of the African American Museum of the East End. “There is a possibility that, in the very near future, we are going to continue the archaeological dig.”

Because there were later occupants of the now-demolished house on the property after Mr. Concer died, it is not yet clear if the items found this week belonged to him, his family or others.

Southampton Village officials are in the process of putting together the budget and renderings needed to build a replica of the Concer House, whose owners demolished it in 2014 despite outcry that it was an integral part of village history.

David and Silvia Hermer had purchased the 0.82-acre property in 2013 for $2.75 million. They applied to demolish the house, saying they wanted to build a new one, and, after several months of debate, the Southampton Village Architectural Review Board denied their application.

The couple then filed a $10 million notice of claim against the village, charging that their rights as property owners were being denied. In May 2015, the village and homeowners reached an agreement, and the municipality was given permission to salvage historic artifacts before the building was finally demolished and the vacant lot was put on the market. The dig is a continuation of that effort, seeking to find whatever items of historical value can be pulled from the soil on the lot.

Two months after the agreement was reached, the Southampton Town Board agreed to purchase the property for $4.3 million, using Community Preservation Fund revenues. Southampton Village officials plan to build a replica of the house using remnants salvaged from the Concer home.

Ms. Simmons said it will be the village’s responsibility to reconstruct and maintain the replica, although the project results from an inter-municipal agreement between the village and the town.

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Supports preservation. Too bad the village didn't act sooner for preservation and financial reasons. This property was listed for sale for a very long time.
By Hamptonsseashell (359), on Jun 7, 16 5:07 PM
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