National Treasure - 27 East

Letters

Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1712314

National Treasure

I’m embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Pyrrhus Concer, a Southampton man who should be celebrated as a national treasure but, because he was Black, is little known. I thank you for enlightening me with your excellent article [“A Southampton Legacy Long Left Unremembered,” July 9]

I was fascinated by his story: a 5-year-old torn from his family and sold like a farm animal, he became an expert whaler, was the first African American to enter Japan (where there is a statue of him? why isn’t there one here?), later joined the Gold Rush to California, and returned here to become a landowner, businessman and philanthropist.

I was pleased to learn that he is commemorated with a plaque and a street named after him near Agawam Park, where he lived. Also, that there was a Juneteenth celebration there this year, and that efforts to further memorialize him continue.

I was outraged to read how greed, stupidity, venality and racism led to the demolition of his home, which, miraculously, was still standing. A tragic loss to Southampton and to the nation.

I was uplifted when it turned out that heroic activists took the house apart before it could be destroyed and stored “each joist and rafter” of this historic 1830s structure. Someday it will be rebuilt.

Please tell us where we can send donations to help restore Pyrrhus Concer’s house.

Judith Long

Sag Harbor

Donations can be sent in care of Brenda Simmons, executive director of the Southampton African American Museum, at P.O. Box 2263, Southampton, NY 11969 — Ed.

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