In particular, the villages of Southampton, Sag Harbor and East Hampton and the hamlet of Amagansett are rife with historical significance. Each of them has many memorable and fascinating places in time, and all have the architecture to prove it.
Settled in 1640, Southampton is one of the most historically significant villages in the entire country and is also the oldest English settlement in the state. Inhabited first by members the Shinnecock Indian Nation, the village was settled by a small group of Puritans who landed at Conscience Point from Lynn, Massachusetts and who named the area after the British Earl of Southampton.
Dating back to 1651, the Captain George White House on Main Street has been around nearly as long as the village has stood. Originally built and owned by John Jagger, one of the original 12 village settlers, in recent times the house has become known as the “Captain George White House.”
The former whaler was an advocate for the protection of the environment—particularly the shoreline—of Southampton. The sailor worked his way through the ranks from cabin boy to boat steerer, then mate and eventually made captain. He later became the president of the Board of Trustees of Southampton once he settled on land for good.
Bequeathed to the Southampton Historical Museum by a descendant of Mr. White, the house and property were sold last year to R. Marco Robert, who restored the home, keeping its historic integrity intact.
“He did a visionary job of reconstructing, restoring and reimagining the iconic Captain George White house of Southampton,” says Jennifer Vail-Daddi, who worked closely with Mr. Robert on the renovation.
Now, the 6,750-square-foot house and surrounding .80-acre property are for sale for $8.495 million and listed with Noel Love at Saunders. Newly updated, the Colonial- and Greek Revival-mix structure features salvaged beams, other elements of the original house, and a fireplace constructed from ship’s ballast. The property also comes with heated pool and spa, pool house, mature landscaping and a classic English garden.
“Reimagined, reconstructed and restored, it’s one of the most iconic structures in all of Southampton, says Mr. Love.
The Algonquin Indians initially inhabited the village of Sag Harbor. Named by the white man in the early 1700s, what would later become a historic whaling village was settled in the late 1730s. It has since been immortalized in countless books by some of the greatest American authors of all time—including John Steinbeck, James Fennimore Cooper, Kurt Vonnegut and Herman Melville—many of whom called the village home.
Devastated by two great fires, in 1817 and 1845, many historical homes from the earliest times of the village have been destroyed. But there are still plenty of examples of significant architecture that remain standing.
For example, the Benjamin Hope House is a modern-day testament to the craftsmanship of earlier times. Built in 1865 by clockmaker F.B. Hope, the historic 3,826-square-foot Second Empire-style townhouse has a prime spot at the very beginning of the village’s Main Street proper.
Untouched for 150 years, the manse was completely revitalized not long ago, with the help of AML Architecture, Ben Krupinski Builders and interior designer Michael Lee. Much of the home’s exterior features—from the detailed cornice work to the antique slate mansard roof—and some of the interiors, including the antique “fire boxes,” have been restored to their original glory.
Listed with Dana Trotter of Sotheby’s International Realty for $4.5 million, the house and its .08 acres come with extensive mature boxwood garden, outdoor dining space, private sun-drenched terrace with views, outdoor deck and year-round rooftop garden pool and fire pit.
“It’s a home of irreplaceable character and supreme style,” says Ms. Trotter.
Originally inhabited by the Montauk Indians and settled in 1648 by Puritan farmers, the village of East Hampton is known for its charm and historic character. For its first 250 years, the area was an agrarian community. However, in the early 20th century, East Hampton became “colonized” as a summer retreat and resort for the wealthy and artistically minded.
Though the demographics of the village have changed over the years, conservation has nearly always been a priority and many examples of historical structures—from its famous windmills to Mulford Farm—have remained onsite and intact since the late 1600s.
One such saved spot on Argyle Lane includes the historic Parsons barn. Standing for more than 200 years, it was initially used as a supplies storage space by the Parsons family, who were caretakers to the wealthy Gardiners, of whom the 5-square-mile island is named after.
The sturdy structure, which has only been in the possession of three families since it was erected, was converted from barn to residence in the 1930s. It’s currently listed, along with 3.7 acres, with Phelan and Kamela Wolf of Brown Harris Stevens for $1.995 million.
The Parsons have their own places in history, but it was the family’s employers—the Gardiners—whose legacy lives on. More than 400 years after its purchase by Lion Gardiner in 1639, that mass of land now known as Gardiner’s Island is the only real estate intact in the United states that succeeds a royal grant from the English Crown.
The Gardiners are also noted for giving birth to the first English child born in New York, Elizabeth, who was born in 1641. At the age of 15, that same child would be responsible for the first witch-hunt and trial in an American colony.
As she lay delirious on her deathbed in 1658, Elizabeth said she saw “a black thing at the bed’s feet” and exclaimed “A witch! A witch! Now you are come to torture me because I spoke two or three words against you!” Later, Elizabeth “Goody” Garlick, whose husband worked Gardiner’s Island as a farmer, was named as the “witch” but later acquitted of the charge.
Another famous Gardiner, Julia, who was born in 1820, went on to become the First Lady of the United States after marrying President John Tyler. She and many of her founding family members, including the Gardiner’s original sire, Lion Gardiner, are buried in the South End Cemetery near Town Pond.
Just east of the village lays quiet Amagansett, once home to the Montauketts, which was laid claim to in the late 1600s by descendants of the original Southampton settlers. The hamlet’s biggest historical distinction of late has been noted in the history books as the dubious landing spot for four German spies who were dropped off via submarine in 1942. Undetected, the would-be saboteurs involved in “Operation Pastorius” hid in the woods and caught the morning train into Manhattan from the Amagansett Rail Road Station, where they were eventually apprehended.
It’s no real surprise that the sleepy hamlet has since been sought out as a serene retreat for those who’d rather shy away from the public eye. One such solace seeker was iconic American actress Marilyn Monroe. She and her then husband, renowned playwright Arthur Miller, vacationed at a home on 64 Deep Lane in the late 1950s.
The super famous couple ended up spending the summers of 1957 and 1958 at a quaint residence that had been converted from a working windmill into a shingle-style cottage by former owner, Samuel Rubin, creator of the Fabergé cosmetics company. It was during that time that the iconic images of Ms. Monroe and her influential writer husband were captured by photographer Sam Shaw while the couple strolled along the isolated beach in Napeague.
Mr. Miller, who penned “The Crucible” and “Death of a Salesman” among others, even wrote about the summer retreat in his memoir “Timebends: A Life.”
“Now we could take easy breaths in a more normal rhythm of life,” he said of the time he and his wife spent at “the windmill house.” “Marilyn had decided to learn how to cook and started with homemade noodles, hanging them over a chair back and drying them with a hair dryer, and she gave me hair trims out in the sunshine, and we walked the empty Amagansett beach in peace, chatting with the occasional commercial fishermen who worked their nets from winches on their rusting trucks.”
Now listed with Bobby Rosenbaum of Douglas Elliman for $8.5 million, the 1,300-square-foot home and its rambling 5.45 acres are for sale. The property’s impressive array of notable visitors—additionally including Kurt Vonnegut, Terrence Stamp and Ralph Lauren—adds even more to its value, says the veteran agent.
“It looks like a windmill and it’s housed some of the most famous people in the world,” he says. “This place doesn’t just feel like a 19th century romance novel, it also has a lot of history and charm.”