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“1693 House” For Sale

Posted on 14 April 2010

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From a beehive oven to wide plank walls, the “1693 House” on Union Street in Sag Harbor is filled with architectural details recalling its historic past. The home, put on the market just over a month ago, boasts the title of the oldest house in Sag Harbor Village, says local historians and listing agent Beth Troy from Town and Country Real Estate.

Evidence of the home’s antique past is particularly apparent in the dining room. The ceilings are fashioned from raw wood planks and beams, the doors are in a colonial style with latch-key handles, and an original Dutch oven is adjacent to a fireplace.

This famous home isn’t native to Sag Harbor though. According to Henry Weisburg and Lisa Donneson in their book “Guide to Sag Harbor: Landmarks, Homes and History,” the house was actually built in Sagaponack and moved five times until it settled on the 0.17 acre lot on Union Street. Sag Harbor Village itself wasn’t officially settled until 1730, though certain records show people moving to the area in 1707. Author and historian Stephen Longmire guesses that the home was relocated to the village in the 1800s.

Little is known about the original tenants, but the structure, Longmire says, offers a rare glimpse into the life of a modest village dweller. Longmire explains that the house with its pitched roof and three-bay window facade is a prime example of a “half house.” During the colonial period, Longmire notes, a “full house” consisted of five bays or openings such as a window or door. If a family didn’t require the proportions of a full house or simply didn’t have the means, they would build a “half house” with plans to add additional bays in the future.

“It was a bit like Legos,” explains Longmire.

Today, the main house features two sizable bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a living room, dining room and modern kitchen.

Though Longmire says it is hard to pinpoint which architectural elements are original to the house, he adds that the renovations to the home have maintained its character.

“What I like is the way the house has been handled. It has been worked over more than once but it has been modified to its scale. That isn’t something you see everywhere,” remarks Longmire. He points out that there are probably a number of beehive ovens — a brick oven which uses kindling to cook food — in homes throughout the village, but many of them were walled off years ago as a result of renovation. Though examples of this historic characteristic exist in other homes, it has become a rarity.

In order to maintain the size of the home but increase space, a separate garage was converted into an airy studio with a full bathroom constructed in wood. Adding a separate building is a “smart” way to give homeowners more room while retaining the historical character of the home, Longmire adds.

Troy also notes that the property is unique given the size of the lot. Most village homes have modest lawns, but the “1693″ house has an impressive backyard with a brick patio and carefully designed landscaping. From the backyard, one feels both secluded and connected to the village with the steeple of St. Andrews Catholic Church visible on the skyline. Troy adds that there is room for a pool.

Among the many draws of this village jewel is the fact that the current owner, retired tennis champion Guillermo Apolinario Vilas, won the U.S. Open and the French Open in 1977. A native Argentinean, Vilas purchased the property in 2008 for $975,000. And though the home is currently listed at $995,000, Troy says it is still a relative bargain for a property in the heart of the village. Troy also concedes that it is difficult to compare this home to others in the area because she says it is a one of a kind.

To learn more about the house, contact Beth Troy at 537-3200 ext. 122, or email her at btroy@1townandcountry.com.

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