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Jul 23, 2014 9:27 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Core of Pyrrhus Concer House To Be Preserved In Southampton Village

Jul 24, 2014 9:44 AM

The original framing from the center of the Pyrrhus Concer homestead on Pond Lane in Southampton Village has been marked for preservation by historians studying the property to save artifacts important to the history of African-American culture on the East End before the house is demolished later this year.

Last week, Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said that the historian, Robert Strada of Strada Baxter Design/Build LLC., has been inside 51 Pond Lane several times since being appointed by the Village Board to evaluate the house that property owners David Hermer and Silvia Campo wish to demolish to make way for a new, two-story single family home. Under a stipulation of agreement reached in May, which settled a $10 million lawsuit planned against the village, the municipality had 60 days to evaluate the property and remove any historically significant objects it wants, after which the owners could demolish the house.

Mr. Epley explained that nothing has been removed from the house yet, but that certain sections of the framing have been identified by Mr. Strada as being constructed in the early 1800s, placing them in Mr. Concer’s lifetime. The framing, Mr. Epley said, will be carefully removed and stored at the Southampton Historical Museum while village officials raise money to rebuild the structure somewhere else in the village.

“We are working with the property owner and the engineers, and I think it is going to be a very successful structural preservation,” Mr. Epley said last week. “Mr. Strada is actually working on developing a story, a history, of the house, using the original materials through all of the expansions.”

Born a slave in 1814, Mr. Concer was freed and went on several whaling expeditions, most notably when he was part of a crew that saved stranded Japanese sailors and returned them home, becoming one of the first Americans, and black men, to visit then-restricted Japan.

The house has been the center of controversy since last September, when the Architectural Review Board hosted the first public hearing about the demolition, with opponents saying the house is an integral part of African-American history on the East End, and others saying the house had been added to in the 1920s, leaving questions about its historical integrity.

Opponents of the proposal say the property would not be in jeopardy if it had been included in past historical references—and noted that information related to African-American history, particularly where property ownership and residency are concerned, was often left out of such records. At the time, the ARB denied the application to demolish the structure, after which the owners file the $10 million notice of claim against the village.

According to the settlement, which was filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York on May 21, the ARB had to immediately grant a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the structure, which it has already done. As a condition of the certificate, the village or a designated party has 60 days to investigate the house and remove anything believed to have been created prior to 1890. Whoever enters the house must also sign waivers indemnifying the homeowners against liability.

Mr. Strada did not return calls seeking comment on Tuesday.

According to Mr. Epley, so far, most of the house—including the walls, flooring and roof—has been determined to be new, or installed in the 1900s, based on the materials used and type of construction. Once removed from the house, the artifacts will be temporarily stored at the historical museum while the village catalogs them and comes up with a permanent plan.

“We are developing a plan on how we are going to rebuild the structure,” the mayor said. “We need to find a location to install it, and we will have a place with high visibility to create a good monument to him.”

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Sounds like as usual money is making the decision vs what this house means to the village, might as well let the Kardashians build a new DASH their. Sad to see my home town go down to money all the time. Most people who grew up their cant afford to live their, SAD
By MACDADDY (49), SOUTHAMPTON on Jul 23, 14 11:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
What should have happened? The property owner bought it in the open market.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 23, 14 3:04 PM
What should have happened? The property owners, this will be their fourth spec house build, and the broker who sold it to them knew the house was historically sensitive - there is a large monument to Pyrus Concer across the street. They should have shown some consideration to Southampton's and the nation's slave owning history by incorporating the historic part of the house into their plan, instead of asking to demolish it.
The Mayor and Village Trustees are to blame for not designating the ...more
By moonpie (43), Southampton on Jul 23, 14 7:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
You said it....

"The Mayor and Village Trustees are to blame for not designating the place historic long before it went on the market, as are previous village board members and mayors who didn't. "
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 23, 14 9:06 PM
DITTO!!!! Thanks
By MsB (17), Southampton on Jul 24, 14 12:08 AM