FIRST ANNUAL HISTORIC HOUSE TOUR
The Westhampton Beach Historical Society was proud to present our very first Historic House Tour.
This tour showcased six fine examples of historically and architecturally significant homes in and around Westhampton Beach.
Over 125 guests enjoyed our featured homes:
The Howell Homestead
220 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, is a fully restored colonial home. This home was originally built about 1727 by Hezekiah Howell, who with Johathan Raynor, was one of the first two Englishmen to buy land in Catchaponack. This is the oldest building in Westhampton Beach; it’s truly a “HOMESTEAD”, with out-buildings and colonial gardens. This modest oak timber-framed Cape Cod-style house constructed by Mr. Howell is believed to be the first shelter built in Catchaponack (now Westhampton Beach) to house men who looked after the cattle that were grazed on these lands. An orchard was also planted here by Mr. Howell.
The Howell family owned this home for over 200 years. The home has changed hands several times since 1942, but has been fully restored by its current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jack L. Jones. Several additions to the house were made over the years including the west addition, c. 1840, a long dormer on the back roof c 1926 and a patio and new cellar. Additional structures on the property include an 1880’s carriage house, a threshing barn and a timber-framed cabin. A lovely knot garden to the rear complements the home.
The Griffing House
268 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, is a restored homestead, tavern and stagecoach stop. The famous 1803 Griffing House served as a tavern and inn for stagecoach runs between Sag Harbor and Brooklyn.
The stagecoach began running in 1772 and took three days to make the run at a cost of $2.25. Stops and taverns were required along the route so that mail and goods could be delivered and passengers could refresh themselves or spend the night. The Griffing House served these purposes well as it was sited near the center of the community and, with extensive wings, the building was large enought o accommodate many guests.The Griffing House continued in use as a stagecoach stop until around the 1870’s when the Long Island Rail Road was completed.
The Griffing House continued to operate as an inn and boarding house well into the 1900’s. Stephen Fanning “Pop” Griffing maintained the inn in the early 1900’s with other Griffing family members continuing to manage the inn into the mid 1900’s.
This house has gone through several major changes. In the 1930’s the home was moved back from the street, the two wings were removed and relocated (making two new homes) and the core of the house turned and placed on a new foundation. The current owners, Hope and Michael Fitzgerald have maintained its historic integrity, meticulously restoring the core of the house .
The Wilcox Homestead
9 Brushy Neck Lane, Westhampton, is an excellent example of a Victorian farmhouse. This home was built in 1896 by Eugene Orville Wilcox, reflecting the prosperity and success of Westhampton’s fledgling duck industry, in which he was a central figure as owner of Oceanic Duck Farm.
The property was purchased in 1892 with a small farmhouse already on the land. Eugene and his wife and three children lived in that farmhouse for some six years before this “new” construction began. The farmhouse that came with the property was moved to the head of Brushy Neck Road, where it still stands today.
This 1896 farmhouse incorporated the back kitchen of the former house into the construction. The new farmhouse became the home of Eugene and Edith Smith Wilcox and their five children. Two of the sons, Carlos and S. Leroy inherited Oceanic Duck Farm and the farmhouse. Carlos lived in the farmhouse for several years, later selling his interest in the farm and house to his brother S. Leroy. The farmhouse was left empty at this point and upon S. Leroy’s death, ownership passed to his son David, Sr. Weather, time, and vandalism took their toll on the old house that was still standing empty.
Years later, when Eugene’s great-grandson, Dean Wilcox and his wife Cindy acquired ownership in 1995, they decided to undertake the daunting task of bringing new life to the old farmhouse. Some pieces of the original structure had to be rebuilt – like the front and side porches, yet wherever possible, care was taken to keep the look of the original home. Today a Wilcox family again lives in the old farmhouse.
32 Seafield Lane, Westhampton Beach was built circa 1902. This is a superb example of the shingle style cottages that were built at the turn of the century. This grand old house was built on a rise overlooking Quantuck Bay by Bryan Herbert Smith, a Brooklyn doctor, as a country vacation home. It is one of the last surviving examples of the early Shingle Style homes that were prevalent on the East End in the decades following the completion of the Long Island Railroad’s Sag Harbor Line in 1870. The new speedy route to the East End turned the Hamptons from a little-known vacation spot into an internationally know resort area.
The Smith family which has owned the property for over 100 years, gave it the name “Kemah”, a Shinnecock Indian name meaning “Facing Into the Wind”. Bryan Smith and his wife Laura Cutter Smith, passed the home on tho their only child, Cyrus Porter Smith, who later became the first mayor of Brooklyn to be elected by the people. His son Cyrus “C.P.” Smith owned the house until 1982 when upon his death, daughter Theodora Smith DeYoe inherited the home and lived in it until her death in 2011. Theodora’s five children now own the 7.8 acre bay front property and continue to gather here for family vacations.
The estate looks much as it did in the early 1900’s. There are two houses, two garages and a boathouse – all original. Soon after construction began on the main house, a second residence was designed for the Smith family’s housekeeper and estate superintendent that became know as “The Button Box”. The Button Box today is now the family room, and the second floor now has five bedrooms instead of the original three.
The main house is much as it was in the early years, with just a few changes. The first floor sun porch has been closed in , the second floor sleeping porch was also closed in, and the house is now heated by an oil-fired furnace rather than coal.
104 South Country Road, Remsenburg. This is a perfect example of a center hall hall colonial. This magnificant home was built in 1939-1941 for Joseph J. Haggerty, road builder and part-owner of the former New York Giants baseball team. This estate as one time included 63 acres extending from south of South Country road northward towards Montauk Highway and eastward to include the area that is now Remsenburg Park. In 1939 the Haggertys commissioned the well-known American architect Aymar Embury II, to design this shingle-style center hall colonial. Mr. Embury was working with Robert Moses on the construction and renovation of New York “City parks at that time. He also built the Players and Nassau Clubs in Princeton, NJ the Princeton Club in NYC and the University Club in Washington D.C.
The construction of the house was undertaken by East Moriches builder Joseph C. “Hap” Fitzpatrick at a cost of $22,800 and was completed in 1941. Joe Haggerty actually helped clear the land for the home himself. Joe and his wife Rita had numerous hobbies and to support them, the Haggertys constructed/moved a variety of out-buildings to the grounds north of the home. These included a stable, a kennel, a hay barn, corn crib, equipment shed, sheep shed, a turkey barn, a greenhouse, a guest house, a spuperintendent’s house, and the old Westhampton Beach firehouse.
The Raynor Farm House
162 South Country Road, Remsenburg. This farm house is sited on property originally settled by William Phillips in 1757. The Raynors were among the earliest European settlers of the area. The central portion of the house is framed with hand-hewn timbers, many with the bark remaining, connected by wood pegs. The framing is visible in the attic and basement. This portion of the house appears to date from the late 1700’s/early 1800s, which is consistent with the earliest Raynor believed to have occupied the house, Josiah Woodhull Raynor (1757-1839), who was a shoemaker.
The house has been passed down the Raynor family since that time. As it typical of older homes, the Raynor Farm House has been modified over time, including addition of a north wing and a south wing some time in the mid-to late 1800’s, moving the house one lot south and adding a basement, wiring , front porch and front arbor in 1920, and updating the front porch in 2008. Interior spaces were also updated somewhat over the years, but efforts were always made to retain the original details, particularlyin the oldest portion of the house. Original framing, floors and windows , doors, plank walls, built-in cabinetry and the sloping floors of the kitchen remain , keeping much of the homes historic integrity.
The tour was followed by a benefit reception at the historic Casa Basso Restaurant in Westhampton.