Southampton Town might use Community Preservation Fund money to purchase the property that once was the site of the Pyrrhus Concer house on Pond Lane in Southampton Village, with plans to create a museum.
This week town officials scheduled a public hearing for July 14 on the proposal to purchase the property. The amount the town would be willing to pay for the 0.82-acre parcel will not be disclosed until the public hearing.
“The property is something that is important to the Village of Southampton,” Town CPF Manager Mary Wilson said on Tuesday. “And the Town Board also felt it was an important opportunity to acquire a parcel with historic significance.”
If the lot is purchased through the town’s CPF program, the village will act as its steward, taking care of routine maintenance. Ms. Wilson said this week that there would be restrictions on how the property can be used, but noted that the village would be able to operate a museum—possibly one built with elements of the original structure.
The property has been at the center of controversy since September 2013, when the Southampton Village Architectural Review Board first heard public comment on a proposal to demolish the Pyrrhus Concer house to make way for a single-family home. Many said the house was an integral part of Southampton history and of key significance to the history of the region’s African-American community; Mr. Concer was a former slave who went on to a prominent whaling career and was a key figure in the village’s history.
After several months of public debate, the ARB denied the homeowners a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the structure, which led to a $10 million lawsuit against the village, with the owners claiming their property rights were being denied.
In May 2014, the village and the homeowners reached an agreement to settle the lawsuit. The village was able to go into the house to salvage historic artifacts before the house was demolished in August. Then, in November, the owners, David Hermer and Silvia Campo, withdrew applications to develop the property, instead putting the empty lot on the market for $4,995,000.
If the town purchases the property, Southampton Village will pay to have the house rebuilt using materials pulled from the property during deconstruction by local historian Robert Strada.
During his time in the house, Mr. Strada and his team were able to salvage original portions of the house, including floors, joists, eaves, six-over-six windows, Greek revival panels, studs, braces and rafters. In May, Mr. Strada told Southampton Village officials that he was confident that a replica of the original house, which is believed to have measured 18 by 30 feet, would be possible with funding and an appropriate spot to put the house on.
The public hearing is scheduled for July 14 at 1 p.m. in Southampton Town Hall.
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