The 1859 brick Mill, now restored, was constructed next to the original sawmill building by Daniel Tuttle just prior to the Civil War and was used for his wagon-building, carriage, and wheelwright business. His son, Lewis Tuttle, was an undertaker and made coffins onsite. The Tuttles leased the Mill to Everett O. Fordham in 1895; Mr. Fordham bought the Mill in 1911 and transformed it to electric power. Fordham’s long-time employee, Wilbur Benjamin, bought the Mill in 1946 and continued operations until he sold the property in 1959. The current western portion of the Mill building was constructed in the 1960s on the site of the original wooden sawmill building. Sawmill operations were continued onsite by the Moriches Woodworking Co., Inc. until about 1975. Thereafter, the buildings were used for several years for antiques sales and other purposes, during which time the Beinecke family sought and obtained Town of Southampton landmark designation for the property.
In 2018, the Westhampton Beach Historical Society named the John and Elaine Kanas Family Foundation as its first recipient of the Society’s award for preservation of local historic buildings. In March 2017 the Foundation purchased the property that includes the 1859 Tuttle-Fordham Mill, assuming full responsibility for its preservation and appropriate reuse. Located between Montauk Highway and Old Montauk Highway, and overlooking the Speonk River to the south, the Tuttle-Fordham Mill was designated a Town of Southampton landmark in 1985. Unoccupied for some time, the Mill has recently been in a state of significant disrepair and its foundation was seriously compromised. There was considerable community concern for the Mill as it was a highly-visible and well-known historic building that had deteriorated, and had been for sale for many years with no buyers with restoration resources evident.
Thanks to John and Elaine Kanas and their Foundation, the Tuttle-Fordham Mill has been restored, the site is functional again, and this property will have a new life for many years. Office space for the Foundation and another tenant is provided for in the Mill, while the attractive newer building to the west has several office spaces for tenants. The restored buildings and landscaping are truly beautiful and an asset to the hamlet of Speonk/Remsenburg. The John and Elaine Kanas Family Foundation’s significant efforts to restore and re-purpose this historic site are deeply appreciated by the Society and community and are more than worthy of the Society’s first Historic Preservation Award.