Montauk Residents Implore Town Board To Preserve Fisher Mansion - 27 East

Montauk Residents Implore Town Board To Preserve Fisher Mansion

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East Hampton Town plans to landmark and purchase the mansion built by developer Carl Fisher in Montauk in the 1920s.

East Hampton Town plans to landmark and purchase the mansion built by developer Carl Fisher in Montauk in the 1920s.

authorMichael Wright on Sep 29, 2021

Montauk preservationists implored the East Hampton Town Board this week to designate the hilltop mansion built for Montauk’s founding developer, Carl G. Fisher, as a landmark and to tap the town’s Community Preservation Fund to purchase the property from its longtime owners.

Members of the Montauk Historical Society called the house one of most historically significant structures in the hamlet. The 7-acre parcel atop one of Montauk’s highest hills, with sweeping views of the ocean and Block Island Sound is a throwback to what the area looked like in the 1920s, when Mr. Fisher arrived and began buying up vast swaths of land with an eye toward making Montauk a new resort destination, as he had done years earlier in Miami Beach.

“When Carl Fisher arrived in 1921, there were hardly any permanent structures and fewer than 150 people living here,” said Dick White, who said he had lived all his days in Montauk except the first three, spent at Southampton Hospital. “The house was built when Carl Fisher was reshaping the character of Montauk from a windswept moorland of thousands of acres of grazing lands, to a tourist Mecca. It is important to retain and preserve this historic structure and the 7 acres that surround it to allow future generations to get a feel for how beautiful and wild Montauk once was.”

Along with landmarking the home, which would protect it from demolition, the town has proposed purchasing the house from the Aiken family, which has owned it and maintained it in its original condition since the 1950s, for about $5.5 million. The money would come from the CPF, which uses revenues raised from a tax on real estate sales to fund the protection of open space and historic structures.

The property includes the original 6 bedroom house and a 5 bedroom “annex” and the large surrounding property. It has been for sale for several years, with an asking price of $9.5 million. Real estate listings have spotlighted that the house could be torn down to make way for new development.

The Montauk Historical Society has said it would like to help the town manage the property if it is purchased and preserved.

“The Fisher House is the cornerstone of the Montauk community — just ask any child about sledding on the hill at this property,” said Stephanie Krusa, the president of the Montauk Historical society. “Should the town be looking for a partner to manage this property, the Montauk Historical Society would be very happy to discuss a possible role for us in that connection.”

The lone objection to the proposal came from David Buda, a Springs resident and frequent hawk of the town’s CPF spending, who said that once landmarked, the house itself could be protected through the use of facade easements or the purchase of development rights, without spending the $5.5 million to purchase it, which he deemed excessive and worried would become an albatross to maintain.

“For the town to consider acquiring for $5.5 million for both structures … without a plan in advance is really short-sighted,” Mr. Buda said. “I don’t think the town wants to promote just owning a large mansion.”

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