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Windmill at Stony Brook Southampton to be Designated 'Literary Landmark'

Publication: The Southampton Press
By George Wambold   Jul 9, 2013 1:31 PM
Jul 9, 2013 2:17 PM

The iconic windmill that is currently located on the campus of Stony Brook Southampton has won designation as a Literary Landmark from United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.The 300-year-old windmill was granted landmark status because it was once the residence of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams, in the summer of 1957. While living in the windmill, Williams wrote the experimental one-act play “The Day On Which a Man Dies,” partially in response to the death of his friend, abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, the summer before. The play portrays the last day of an artist’s life and explores themes of life, death and desperation.

The play is subtitled “an occidental noh play,” because its style reflects the traditional Japanese theater style “noh,” which was uncommon at the time in the United States.

A ceremony for a windmill dedication, recognizing the new designation, will begin at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, with the official designation taking place at 5:15 p.m., followed by a reception. During the ceremony, there will be a reading of a new one-act play titled “At Stanley’s Place” by author and Stony Brook Southampton faculty member Frederic Tuten.

Mr. Tuten’s play is “a satirical look at Tennessee Williams” that’s populated by an assortment of men and women from major American and Greek plays, said Andrew Botsford, who’s also a faculty member in Stony Brook Southampton’s Master of Fine Arts program. Among the characters making an appearance in the play are Stanley and Blanche DuBois from the Tennessee Williams classic “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Mr. Botsford added that Mr. Tuten’s writing is “hysterical” and that the play is “very, very funny.”

The event also will kick off a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Southampton College campus.

The American Library Association began recognizing sites with historic and literary value as Literary Landmarks in 1986. Since then, more than 120 landmarks have been recognized across the United States. The Southampton windmill isn’t the first of Tennessee Williams’s homes to be designated as a literary landmark: his homes in Key West, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana, also have been recognized.

Before Southampton College was founded in 1963, the windmill was often rented out as a residence. During Southampton College’s early years, the windmill served as a meeting place for students, and its top floor was used to offer the school’s most prominent guests overnight accommodations.

The windmill was reopened in June 2009 after it underwent a $250,000 renovation and since then the windmill has hosted various campus and community events, including an annual holiday lighting ceremony and special dinners and receptions.

For more information about the event, call (631) 632-8000.

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