Erasing History - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2009196

Erasing History

Whether it’s called “disassembly” or “demolition,” the 1745 Captain John Sandford House, once at the northwest corner of Paul’s Lane and Ocean Road in Bridgehampton, disappeared over a few days this past July. Now, only three or four recognizable and authentic houses in the saltbox style remain in Bridgehampton.

This process of erasing the hamlet’s colonial and Revolutionary built environment has a long history but has accelerated in recent decades, in contrast to the preservation accomplishments of the Village of Sagaponack. (Note: Circa 1800, the total number of colonial houses in both communities numbered over 200.)

On May 31, I emailed the Southampton Town Board and urged preservation of the house, either on its 1745 site or one near Main Street, perhaps opposite Militia Green. I described builder Sandford as a historic personage: He was a fiery revolutionary and patriot who appeared as the first signer of the Articles of Association, a document that was circulated in Southampton Town on August 1, 1775, and throughout the colonies, at the start of the American Revolution. (See Bridgehampton Hamlet Heritage Area Report, Ann Sandford, Ph.D., 2009, p. 67 — you can Google it.)

Early on, it seems that the new owner only wanted the land. That eventually changed. I believe that town government employees worked hard and fast to rescue the house (it measured a mere 30 feet square before later additions). In the May 26, 2022, issue of The Southampton Press, the new owner was identified as 690 Ocean Road LLC; research led to developer James Eckel. But he also worked hard, and much faster, than the hesitating Town Board.

Beams and floorboards may be reassembled somewhere, but that is not historic preservation. Now there is no 1745 House with its stories to tell future generations about a community’s history and Bridgehampton’s role in the American Revolution and the building of the new republic.

Ann Sandford