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Mulvihill Spring Farm Recognized as Historic Landmark

Posted on 26 November 2013

Mulvihill House

 

Two structures built at the turn of last century were recently recognized by the Southampton Landmarks & Historic Districts Board as being historically and architecturally significant and were subsequently designated landmarks by the town.

With the White-Collins-Mulvihill Residence at Spring Farm, Sag Harbor, and the former Shinnecock Hills Train Station and Post Office, the number of town landmarks now totals 18 properties.

The White-Collins-Mulvihill home and property, located at 820 Brickiln Road in Sag Harbor, is currently owned by the descendants of Daniel Francis Mulvihill who served as a naval liaison to the E.W. Bliss Torpedo Company and had purchased the property in 1921 and his wife, Anna C. McDonough. The property was once part of Spring Farm, which encompassed 110 acres before a 75 acre preserve was established in 2001 in memory of Daniel and Anna.

In 2006, another 25 acres was preserved in memory of their son, William P. Mulvihill, who was a teacher of history and an author of many published works, including “South Fork Place Names.”

The White-Collins-Mulvihill residence was built circa 1900 on a foundation of moraine stone in the form of a vernacular folk “I-House,” which was common in pre-railroad America. The home retains a high level of historic integrity. The main portion of the cedar-shingled home has a full-width front porch (now screened in), original windows with six-over-six light patterns and an offset brick chimney. A one-and-a-half story ell extends from the rear.

“The farmhouse was tall and many-roomed. Sitting high, it caught the breezes on hot summer nights,” William Mulvihill wrote in an article.

“Preserving these structures is critical to maintaining the character and heritage of our town and truly gives us a window into the past,” said Bridget Fleming, Southampton Town councilwoman. “Moreover, now that the residence at Spring Farm is a landmark, the town can offer further protection by considering the acquisition of the house and 10 acre parcel through the Community Preservation Department.”

She added that, should the town acquire the property, a celebratory hike through the reunited total 110 acre Mulvihill preserves would be scheduled for early spring.

The Shinnecock Hills Train Station and Post Office located at 100 Hills Station Road was built in 1887. With its cylindrical two-story tower based with stonework and topped with a turned wood finial, the shingle-style building with jack-arched windows on the western half survives as one of the most aesthetically pleasing and architecturally unusual train structures on Long Island.

Its design and construction supervision were performed by William S. Hoyt, who worked with contractor William Aldrich. With a house — which he had also designed — on Lake Agawam, Hoyt and his wife were among the first residents of Southampton Village’s summer colony.

In 1932, the Long Island Rail Road terminated service at the Shinnecock Hills station and the property was acquired by the U.S. Postal Service. The building continued to function as a post office until 1966.

The current owner is Mrs. Ellen Kirwin, who purchased the property with her late husband. Over the past 40 years, the Kirwin family has systematically restored and continues to maintain the building, which still has the original waiting room and ticket window.

Once a structure is designated a local town landmark, it also becomes eligible for a tax abatement program and a preservation easement acquisition. The town’s Landmarks & Historic Districts Board is also currently developing other incentives.

According to Sally Spanburgh, chair of the board, landmark designation often enhances property values, increases the historic integrity of the neighborhood and promotes its unique architectural character.

A landmark status does not prevent property owners from performing routine maintenance anytime, or from improving their property upon review by the Landmarks & Historic Districts Board, who help to ensure the integrity of a historic structure is preserved.

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One Response to “Mulvihill Spring Farm Recognized as Historic Landmark”

  1. The farm was my first home and as my father, William Mulvihill, was a teacher, we were out there for many school breaks and most of every summer. In the early 2000′s after the last renters left, my godmother and aunt Dolores encouraged my husband and myself to spend as much time as we could there and perhaps up to a third of our time on Long Island was spent living there with our three German Shepherds — a tremendously happy time, rekindling childhood memories of nature walks with my father, catching frogs in the well and letting them go, watching the numerous “box turtles” criss-cross the lawn and appear on every walk, snapping turtles sliding through the ponds. My grandparents had many dogs and other wild animals were numerous around the house and in the woods. During the war my grandfather ordered over 1,000 pine trees from a special New York State program, and by not farming crops, the once open and barren-looking property became full of native species and the pine forest planted by my grandparents and my mother while my father and aunt were off to war grew into what we called as kids the “The Piney Woods” leading up to the top which was dubbed Hoppy Toad Hill. Hikers now call the pine forest the Cathedral, although time and many storms have reduced it to maybe a quarter of the density it was when I played naturalist in it in the 50′s and 60′s. One no longer hears the call of the Bob White’s and Whipperwills as we did back then. The house was always full of friends and relatives, having served as a haven for many relatives during the Depression and war years. My grandfather had a mini-vineyard on the far side of the house and the pond to the back of the kitchen was full of water and countless frogs, water striders, at least one muskrat, kingfishers and Eastern Ribbon Snakes were always patrolling. I would sit on a rock next to the pond for hours watching the wood’s inhabitants go about their important business. Natural succession and perhaps geologic action has caused that pond to mostly fill in and the first pond you encounter as you drive up the long driveway to go from being more of a wetlands with a creek to a watery pond filled with much dead wood. Interestingly, despite the front and back ponds and wetlands, we had no mosquitos problems in the farm’s heyday and also when Chuck and I stayed there in the 2000′s as nature balanced their presence with a myriad of mosquito-eating predators. I am so grateful that not only the land, but also the house which holds my most precious childhood memories will be preserved so that while I may not sleep there again, can visit and sit on the lawn, envisioning the parties, my grandmother ringing the bell for dinner, my father and I working to keep the dirt road free of potholes and digging small run-offs to prevent them from forming, home cooked meals on lace tablecloths and sliding down the bannister. I can’t imagine a more ideal childhood that that which my grandparents, my parents and Dolores gave me through their love and stewardship of that land. They were the best of us.


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