Sag Harbor has a history of moving houses. When you really think about it, it was probably the first true recycling program on the East End.
That’s because 100 years ago or more, buildings were not expendable commodities. Made of difficult to obtain wood, glass and bricks, you couldn’t replace one just because it didn’t suit your style. So why in the world would someone back then tear down a perfectly good house, even if the location wasn’t ideal? The fact is they wouldn’t … or rather, didn’t. Instead, they moved it.
You’d be surprised how many structures in the village that seem like they’ve been there forever actually came from somewhere else — across the village, across town or even across the water from Connecticut. The Custom House, Murph’s, and the 1693 house on Union Street all are structures that were built elsewhere and at some point in time, moved to their current location, perhaps in a scene worthy of “The Shipping News.” In the case of the Union Street house, there have reportedly been five moves.
It’s been a number of decades since we’ve seen anything house-shaped come down the pike or over the bridge (excluding those ubiquitous modulars, of course). But now, in a novel example of modern day reuse, Lidz Pauyo, who owns a plot of land on Gull Rock Road in Sag Harbor, has set her sights on a new home for her property — one that is close to 100 years old. Her creative vision means that there just might by a happy ending to what could have been a tragic tale.
The house in question currently sits on a piece of property on Parsonage Lane in Sagaponack that has been purchased for development. Plans call for the demolition of the 1913 structure, which isn’t architecturally noteworthy and was built in a modest and rather non-descript style. But as it turns out, this little house does apparently have some significance as it is purportedly the only house ever to be historically occupied by an African-American family in Sagaponack. The most recent owner of the house was a descendant of a slave who inherited the property, and that makes it noteworthy.
The decision on whether or not to allow the demolition put the Sagaponack ARB in a tough situation. The history, they felt, was significant, but the structure was not. As the board was puzzling out what to do about the situation, Pauyo was busy checking out a blog by Sally Spanburgh, who sits on the Southampton Town Landmarks and Historic Districts Board and is program coordinato for the Bridgehampton Hisotrical Scoeity. Spanburgh keeps track of demolition permits that are issued by Southampotn and posts a list of houses slated for destruction that could be moved. For some time, Pauyo had been looking for a house to relocate to her lot, and in the Parsonage lane house, she saw moer than potential. She saw a home.
While the many details of the move still need to be worked out (and this sort of thing doesn’t come cheap), we find it very fitting that a home that has been labeled significant because of the African American family it once housed may soon find new life in the Sag Harbor Hills section of this village — a historic neighborhood itself founded by African Americans seeking summer respite from the city.
So we look forward to the day we see Pauyo’s new “old” house coming down the road. And once she’s settled in, we hope she will find there’s no place like home.