Southampton Confers Landmark Status to Two 18th Century Homes

Two houses that can be traced back to the 1700s were recently recognized by the Southampton Landmarks & Historic Districts Board as being historically and architecturally significant and were subsequently designated landmarks by the Southampton Town Board. The addition of the Benjamin Foster Homestead in Water Mill and the David Rose and Captain John Rose Residence in North Sea brings the total number of Town landmarks to 16 properties.

“Preserving these structures is critical to maintaining the character and heritage of our town and truly gives us a window into the past that is both educational and extremely interesting,” Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said.

The historic home, located at 84 Montauk Highway, Watermill (across the road from the new Parrish Art Museum), was built before 1798 for Benjamin Foster who was born in 1734. He was related to Christopher Foster, the first family member to arrive in Long Island from England in 1635. According to Colonizing Southampton by David Goddard, both the Fosters and the Roses were, “important families whose members were constantly in one public office or another.”

The main portion of the Foster Homestead is a one-and-a-half story half-Cape form from the Federal style period, which was dominant here from about 1780-1840. The main entry door (and the chimney) is off-center with a distinctive transom of four small windows above it. This kind of house was built to accommodate additions that would eventually make it symmetrical. However, the Foster family obviously did not follow this plan when adding to the east and south sides.

The Rose Residence is located at 1679 North Sea Road, in the hamlet of North Sea, which was where the earliest English settlers arrived in 1640. The smaller portion of the white cedar-shingled house was built about 1740 and is an early vernacular one-and-a-half story, deep half-Cape dwelling. The larger portion is a very good example of early Greek Revival style, which was very popular in this area at the time. The home retains a very high level of historic integrity.

According to Sally Spanburgh, Chair of the Town’s Landmarks & Historic Districts Board, landmark designation often enhances property values, increases the historic integrity of the neighborhood and promotes its unique architectural character. A landmark status doesn’t prevent property owners from performing routine maintenance anytime, or from improving their property upon review by the Landmarks & Historic Districts Board, who help to ensure the integrity of a historic structure is preserved.  Once a structure is designated as a local Town landmark it also becomes eligible for a tax abatement program, a preservation easement acquisition, and a maintenance award.  The Town’s Landmarks and Historic Districts Board is also currently developing other incentives.

If you are interested in pursuing a Southampton Town Landmark designation for a historic structure at least 50 years old, contact Sally Spanburgh, Chair of the Landmarks & Historic Districts Board, at 631-283-6000 or sspanburgh@southamptontownny.gov.

Benjamin Foster House

Benjamin Foster House, Courtesy Southampton Town

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