Tag Archive | "Bridgehampton Historical Society"

East End Weekend: What to Do July 11 – 13

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Malin Abrahamsson, "Winter Lot," mixed media on canvas. Image courtesy Sara Nightingale Gallery.

Malin Abrahamsson, “Winter Lot,” mixed media on canvas. Image courtesy Sara Nightingale Gallery.

By Tessa Raebeck

From shark hunting to art grazing, a carefully-curated selection of top picks to do on the East End this weekend:

Art Market Hamptons brings booths from selected modern and contemporary galleries to Bridgehampton, returning for its fourth season from Friday, July 10 through Sunday, July 13.

Scott Bluedorn of Neoteric Fine Art.

Scott Bluedorn of Neoteric Fine Art.

With 40 participating galleries, Art Market is more exclusive than other art fairs. Local galleries like Neoteric Fine Art, Sara Nightingale Gallery and Grenning Gallery will feature their artists in booths.

The fair is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, July 11, and Saturday, July 12, and from 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 13, at the Bridgehampton Historical Society, located at 2368 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.


The Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton shows East Hampton artist Richmond Burton in an exhibition running July 12 through August 11.

“Known for his dazzling kaleidoscopic abstractions, Richmond Burton melds geometry and naturalism to usher the pictorial language of his predecessors into a contemporary context,” the gallery said in a press release. “With swift, vibrantly hued marks, Burton creates densely gridded compositions that morph into expansive waves of pattern, their overlapping rhythms at once steady and unstable.”

The exhibition will feature Mr. Burton’s last large-scale paintings created in his East Hampton studio, as well as his more recent works. An opening reception is Saturday, July 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Silas Marder Gallery, located at 120 Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton.


The Shark’s Eye All-Release Tournament & Festival returns to Montauk Friday, July 11 through Sunday, July 13.


A little girl watches a shark being tagged at the Shark’s Eye Festival and Tournament in 2012. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

The weekend-long event is “Montauk’s only satellite tag, catch-and-release, high stakes, big game sport fishing competition combined with cutting-edge science, conservation and informative entertainment focused on saving sharks,” according to a press release.

The tournament, held in the Montauk Marine Basin, offers prize money of $10,000. In 2013, participating teams tagged and released 64 sharks, including 33 mako and 31 blue sharks. Four sharks were tagged with satellite tracking devices.

Although it may sound scary, the event offers fun for the whole family, as kids can see sharks up-close-and-personal and learn about conservation and marine wildlife. The festival is free to the public on Saturday, July 12, from 3 to 7 p.m. and on Sunday, July 13, from 2 to 6 p.m. A dock part Saturday night runs until 10 p.m.

The tournament and festival are supported by marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

“There is no other fishing tournament like Shark’s Eye,” Mr. Harvey said in the press release. “This tournament combines the thrill of shark fishing, practical conservation measures, and meaningful fisheries research and community involvement into a single event. It is truly the future of shark fishing tournaments.

The Montauk Marine Basin is located at 426 West Lake Drive in Montauk. For more information, call (631) 668-5900.


In its annual Sag Harbor house tour, the John Jermain Memorial Library presents five homes–one in North Haven and four in Sag Harbor Village–to the public. The houses were specially picked for their unique and personalized interior decorating and for the feeling of “home” each conveyed. For more information on the house tour: read the Express’ full article here.

Rebuilding a Historic Intersection in Bridgehampton

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web_Bridgehampton Main Intersection Renovation_COMPOSITE

By Claire Walla

It may look dilapidated and exude the sound of drilling and the smell of fresh sawdust, but the intersection of Montauk Highway and Ocean Road in Bridgehampton is not your average construction zone. It is currently home to a veritable trifecta of ongoing historic preservation projects.

On the southeast side of the highway, the Bridgehampton Historical Society is working to preserve what’s known as the Nathanial Rogers House (the renovated building will serve as the organization’s new home). Across the street to the north, developer Bill Campbell and his crew are turning the old Bull’s Head Inn property into a new luxury Inn, complete with a restaurant and spa, to be called the Topping Rose House (taken from the building’s historic owners). And on the northwest corner of the intersection, developer Leonard Ackerman has already gone through with the demolition of the run-down beverage store and has plans in place to construct a retail center.

While Ackerman’s new development is the only arm of this trio of construction projects to be built entirely from scratch, the building will be designed to look like the white, columned Greek Revival buildings being restored to its east.

According to Julie Greene of the historical society, the Bull’s Head and Nathanial Rogers homes date back to the 1840s. A man named Abraham Rose once owned the property on both sides of the road, but he sold the southern parcel to Nathanial Rogers in 1829. A little more than a decade later, Greene said, both men simultaneously built their homes in the Greek revival style.

Greene somewhat lamented the fact that the original building on the former beverage store site — which was thought to have been built in 1698 — had been demolished decades ago when the beverage store was actually a Shell Oil gas station. But, she said the proposed alternative is a desirable alternative to what stood in its place.

“I think anything would be better than how that beverage store looked in its last days,” she joked.

“It’s great to have buildings that complement each other,” she said of all three construction plans.

Hal Zwick, a real estate agent with Devlin McNiff Halstead who is representing Ackerman’s development, said the site is scheduled to be completed by 2013. However, he’s already soliciting businesses that are interested in moving into the retail space. In total, the spot can potentially house up to seven unique businesses, although Zwick also said he’s been in talks with at least one company that expressed an interest in renting out the entire complex.

Across the street, however, history was of the utmost importance when the Bridgehampton Historical Society decided to buy the Nathaniel Rogers house back in 2003. Through a combination of grant money from the state and donations from the town of Southampton (all totaling roughly $1.7 million), as well as private funds donated by members of the Bridgehampton community, Bridgehampton Historical Society Director John Eilertsen said the current phase of the restoration project — namely revamping the building’s exterior — is set to be completed in April.

From here, he added, “What we’re hoping is that the town will come up with an additional dollar amount so that we can proceed with the interior.”

While Eilertsen said the time-frame for the rest of the project is largely dependent on whether or not the historical society secures enough financial donations and grant money to proceed, he ball-parked this building’s completion for two-and-a-half to three years from now.

Looking at a more immediate start date, the Topping Rose House aims to open its doors by the start of the summer season. Though the 3-acre site will ultimately include four 2-story guest cottages along the property’s eastern edge, a spa, a swimming pool and a crabapple orchard along the highway, building manager Fran Reres said only the historic Inn, with seven guest rooms, is expected to be open for business this summer. (The rest of the property — housing 22 rooms total — is expected to be finished a year from now.)

While historic preservation was a relative after thought for this project proposal, it is now ingrained in the day-to-day tasks of everyone involved. In fact, as part of Campbell’s deal with the Town of Southampton, he hired local historian Robert Strada to be the historical consultant for the entire redevelopment project. Since construction began back in August, Strada said he has already uncovered a historic barn (actually found hidden within a storage shed on the property), and he’s helped the project managers, JGP Pinnacle, LLC, identify elements of historical significance.

“The Southampton Town Planning Board is requiring that they document the entire process,” Strada said with an almost palpable enthusiasm. He even pointed to the project’s blueprints, which state specifically, “That alteration and restoration of the Inn shall comply with the Secretary of Interior’s standards for the treatment of historic properties.”

Strada said he gets calls from the site whenever someone uncovers something that may potentially be of historic significance. In fact, he said, it happens quite frequently.

“Just this morning, [Construction Manager Steve Knopp] found a special piece of iron,” Strada revealed.

He doesn’t’ know for sure whether it has historical significance or not, but Strada will certainly investigate it.

All his findings — pictures and historic information — will be put on display throughout the Topping Rose House. And, as it is the nature of their institution, Bridgehampton Historical Society members will do the same.

It may be over a century since the Toppings and Rogers families made Bridgehampton their home, but today’s building projects are making certain they are still remembered.

Images of a Rural Way of Life

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Theodore Haines and grandson John Thompson Jr. @1910

By Annette Hinkle

The flavor of any place is largely determined not by its present, but its past. In Sag Harbor, for example, seafaring traditions are evident in the layout of the streets and the feel of the architecture.

But down the road, the story of Bridgehampton and Sagaponack is one told through its rich and fertile soil.

Though it’s a detail lost on casual visitors who come to gawk at the mansions and lavish beachfront properties, the wide open vistas of outwash plain still in evidence today in the area are a reflection of that story — one written by its farmers.

This Friday, the Bridgehampton Historical Society opens “Visual Images of 100 Years of Farming in Greater Bridgehampton.” Archivist and curator Julie Greene has assembled a photographic display for the show reintroducing audiences to old time farming families.

“I’m not a farmer’s daughter … but I know it’s 90 percent of living out here, or has been,” says Greene. “So I thought it would be a great exhibit to do. It’s still a rural community, there are still potato fields and jaded people don’t realize what they’re passing by — 300 years of farming history.”

Greene admits that she’s something of an “evolver” when it comes to organizing exhibits and has changed her mind more than once on the direction this one will take.

“Originally, I thought I would focus on the farming families — the Whites and Fosters, then I’d have to add the Ruppels, Wesnofskes and the Musnickis,” she says. “I soon realized there’s so many it wouldn’t be fair to leave any of them out.”

Next, Greene toyed with the idea of focusing on efforts related to farmland preservation in the area.

“But that’s all kind of still evolving,” she notes.

In the end, she’s settled on a primarily pictorial history of the community’s farmers — photos of wagons filled with hay, or egg and poultry farms now long gone. Also on view will be farm implements, the majority of which are no longer used.

“There’s an egg incubator, tons of farming blades, small corn shuckers, seed planters and cultivators that would have been pulled by oxen,” explains Greene.

In many ways, this exhibit is a collaboration between the community and Greene, coming as it does as a result of her role as archivist and the advent of computer technology. In recent years, residents have brought family photos to Greene who has scanned them for the historical society’s collection which is now full of imagery that speaks to an agriculture past forged by families with names like Halsey and White, Musnicki and Rogers.

“My favorite pictures, being a mother of three, is of young kids with grandfathers or fathers – standing and riding on tractors,” she says. “There’s one of Theodore Haines and his grandson, John Thompson Jr., working a giant thrasher on his farm on Ocean Road, circa 1910.”

Though photographs only go back to the late 1800s, when it comes to farming in the area, there is, indeed, a long history to document. The first European to farm here was Josiah H. Stanborough who in 1656 settled on Bridge Lane in Sagaponack. Greene explains that back in those days, farming wasn’t about commerce, but rather, sustenance.

“Basically you had  a cow for milking, a hog for meat, and you grew flax for clothing and home furnishings,” explains Greene. “Then they began taking things down the turnpike to the port [of Sag Harbor] to be shipped out.”

But Greene notes the arrival of the railroad in 1870 changed everything. Suddenly farmers could ship their products to market much more quickly.

“Then the whole immigrant population began coming in,” says Greene. “The first Irish started arrived in the 1840s with the potato famine. They settled in the city and moved to Brooklyn then migrated further out to farm.”

Polish immigrants followed, first working on farms owned by others and then, in the early 20th century, they began buying their own.

“They had large families, 10 to 12 kids, and they worked the land,” explains Greene of the immigrant families. “Some of the kids went to school, some just went a half day and worked the rest of the time. That’s when potato became king.”

The next farmers were seasonal migrant workers who began arriving in Bridgehampton from the Carolinas in the 1920s. When the season ended in October, families typically moved back south.

“But as things modernized and it was more affable for African Americans, they stayed,” says Greene. “Those families settled along the Bridgehampton Turnpike.”

While many farming families are still in the area, most gave up working the land years ago. With property values soaring and farming becoming an increasingly difficult profession, it has been more profitable to sell than sow.

But there are still familiar names — Halsey, Wesnofske, Foster — working the fields that remain.

“Many of them are still aimed at the potato – and some branched out into organic framing,” says Greene. “The Fosters are farming in different forms, like making potato chips.”

“It’s lovely and a testament to the people here – not all are selling their land,” she adds. “The White family has been here 350 years – they have their land and lease it to be farmed. The Ludlows are making cheese. They have farmed for centuries and hopefully will continue to do so. There’s definitely an evolution within the families.”

Like any evolving story, there are also new names being added to the roster of family farmers. Jim and Jennifer Pike are a prime example of that — a young couple and first generation farmers who are making a go of it with one of the most popular farm stands in the area.

“I’m enamored. Here I thought what do I know about farming? But what I do know and the sense I’ve gotten is it’s an agricultural society,” says Greene. “It’s amazing that elsewhere there’s not a single remnant of it.”

“Here, even if it’s just a rusty old tractor, it harkens back to the time when people took care of themselves and gave it their all,” she adds.

“Visual Images of 100 Years of Farming in Greater Bridgehampton” opens with a reception at the Bridgehampton Historical Society, Archives Building, 2537-A Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton, on Friday, July 8 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Tales From the Turnpike: Photographer offers a community portrait


If there’s anything about life that is consistent, it’s change. Generations come and go, and with them, so does the knowledge of what existed before — the people, things and places that defined a community. Though in a single glance, it seems as immovable as a mountain, time alters reality in every community, turning it first to memory and finally, if no one’s there to catch it, forgotten history. It’s as true in big cities as it is in small towns.  

Photographer Kathryn Szoka has long been inspired by the East End landscapes. She first turned her lens on the working farms and open space vistas of the area back in 1983 and with her “Vanishing Landscapes” series, has chronicled the changing face of the East End rural environment in the years since.

But recently, it’s other faces that Szoka has become interested in — those of the individuals who live in the places she documents. For the past six months or so, Szoka has been immersed in a new project that has taken her to neighborhoods along the Bridgehampton Turnpike where she has been photographing those who live, work, go to school and worship in the hamlet.

“I’ve gone to pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners,” says Szoka. “One highlight was inauguration day at the school where the kids were watching on the big screen. It was a moving experience to be there on inauguration day.”

Among the subjects Szoka has photographed are the children at the Bridgehampton Day Care Center, Barbara Person, the organist at the First Baptist Church for the last 40 years, and William and Brenda Pinckney. William’s parents once owned the Pinckney Inn, a tavern and restaurant on the Turnpike which closed down in the early 1990s.

“It opened in the late ‘50s and was a real hub of activity for the community,” says Szoka. “They had live performers. I saw a copy of the menu, they served 50 cent drinks. That place used to rock.”

On March 5 Szoka came to the Bridgehampton Historical Society (2368 Montauk Highway) to offer residents a first look at some of the images she has taken in the Bridgehampton community. Szoka, who is working on the project in conjunction with the Bridgehampton Historical Society, began shooting after receiving a grant last spring from the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation. She notes the idea for the project came about as part of the historical society’s mission to focus on life in Bridgehampton today. 

“The director, John Eilertsen, decided their archives needed to represent the community as it is,” explains Szoka. “The African American community has pretty long roots there, a century or more. It was his idea to conduct both oral histories and photographic documents of the contemporary Bridgehampton.”

“The working title of the project is ‘On and Around The Turnpike: Bridgehampton Today.’ The idea in John’s mind was to get photos and histories of people in the community now, focusing on the elderly if possible,” explains Szoka. “You want their witness in the archive going forward. The most history can be found there.”

While the historical society’s methodology and timetable for conducting the oral histories has yet to be determined, Szoka is already well on her way to realizing a photographic exploration of the community. She cautions that the project is still in its early stages and envisions tonight’s presentation as an opportunity to solicit feedback on the work she’s produced so far. Szoka is also actively searching for new funding sources to continue the project, and currently, a full exhibit of her portraits is planned for next fall. She finds this project is a logical extension of her inspiration in recent years.

“It fits in with the context of my work,” says Szoka. “In many respects I photograph things in transition. People and details of life which one could say is in transition. I’m also involved in a project called ‘Green and Black,’ photographing my mom’s hometown, a coal mining town in eastern Pennsylvania. 

“It’s all about community,” she adds. “What’s special about different areas — it’s the capital of community instead of the capital of dollars.”

One of Szoka’s favorite places to shoot has been at the First Baptist Church on the Turnpike. She has gone to a number of services, spent time with church staff and parishioners and even photographed an adult baptism.

“I’d never been to an adult baptism before — that was remarkable,” says Szoka. “I felt privileged to be able to be there.”

“They’ve embraced the project from the get go,” says Szoka. “The first few services, I just went and didn’t photograph. I feel it’s important to spend the time in a community to get the pictures you want.” 

During her photographic sessions, Szoka also had an opportunity to hear stories. Many of the African American families she has talked to in Bridgehampton can trace their arrival on the East End from southern states.

“For a number of people I talked to, the ancestors were migrant workers from villages and towns in Virginia,” says Szoka. “A few came from Florida — their parents or grandparents worked all the big farms around here. There was a point that they decide to move here permanently.”

“One woman, Alice Darden — she’s 98 — was from Virginia and she said part of the reason she moved here was because the cotton industry collapsed. The work they had there was no longer. They decided to stay here.”

“The spirit of the older people is strong and invigorating,” adds Szoka. “It’s really terrific to sit with people and feel their life force.”

While Darden represents the oldest Bridgehampton resident Szoka has photographed to date, her work spans the gamut, and includes people of all ages.

“I’m trying to not concentrate on any one age range. I want to have a cross section as I go forward with the project,” says Szoka. 

Interestingly enough, some of the younger generations in Bridgehampton have been forced by finance or circumstance to return to the places their ancestors may have originally left for a better life up north. 

“Some see a cyclical aspect to what’s happening,” says Szoka. “Children and grandchildren are moving back down south. Their ancestors left the Jim Crow south for work and to have a less discriminating area to live in, but now because they can’t afford to live here, they’re going back south.”

Economic issues and natural patterns of familial movement as children grow, leave school and start lives of their own dictates that change in Bridgehampton, like everywhere, is inevitable. The goal, notes Szoka, is to capture what can be found today.

“The community has a very rich cultural heritage that we will all be enriched by,” she says. 

“I’ve learned many things. Every time I sit down in someone’s living room or kitchen and hear about their life, I’m enriched. I learn about their stories.”

Top: Szoka’s photo of Bridgehampton resident Ava Mack at the 2008 Bridgehampton School graduation ceremony.





Old Time Music for the Parlor

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There was a time in our not so recent history when a question for most people was not, “do you play an instrument?” but “what instrument do you play?”

Before television, cell phones and the advent of the Internet, families and friends socialized not over an episode of “Survivor” but around a fireplace where they sang and made music on the popular instruments of the day.

The Bridgehampton Historical Society has set out to recreate that form of merry making with its Parlor Music Series which returns this weekend for a fall run after a successful debut last spring. Concerts will be offered Saturdays at 2 p.m. in the parlor of the society’s Corwith House and first up will be Larry Moser who will perform on the hammered dulcimer on Saturday, October 4.

“The idea is a single musician in our parlor making music as someone might have performed 100 years ago or more,” says Stacy Dermont, program coordinator for the society.

Dermont, who grew up on a farm in upstate New York, admits that the idea for the parlor music series can be traced to her rural heritage.

“Maybe a germ of this is a deep rooted jealousy,” she confesses. “I was too little to go to the square dance across the road that my neighbors had when they were teenagers. I thought they were the coolest people and to me at the time, it seemed like it was a huge rollicking barn dance. I sat on my side of the road just watching thinking, ‘Someday.’’

“In rural areas, it’s this idea of communal celebration, talking, singing, dancing and getting together.”

These days, Dermont is in a position to ensure she won’t get shut out of the fun — but because space is limited, lots of other people might.

“You don’t find live music except for church on Sundays. So I wasn’t surprised that it could attract that kind of sold out waiting room only audiences,” says Dermont of the spring series. “People latched on to it from day one. We had great audiences — consistently half of them from Sag Harbor and half from Bridgehampton.”

Larry Moser will be coming from Huntington with his hammered dulcimer. He also plays the guitar, accordion and English concertina, frequently at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration. Though often thought of as European in origin, Moser has found evidence that hammered dulcimers are much older than that.

“The Indians and Iranians today play the santour, which is like a hammered dulcimer,” he explains. “At Old Bethpage on Sundays, Orthodox Jews come. I knew it was at least 1,000 years ago, then one day, a man came and said it’s called a ‘santer’ and is in the book of Daniel in a list of instruments. Clearly that’s the same thing as santour, so it definitely goes back to the Middle East at least 2,500 years ago.”

The instrument then made its way to Greece courtesy of Alexander where it got its new name.

“The hammered dulcimer spread through Europe and into Italy in the 1500s where it became the harpsichord and the piano.”

But pianos and harpsichords were expensive, so hammered dulcimers were for poor folks.

“If it’s played with fingers, it’s called psaltery,” adds Moser. “There are very few psaltery players around anymore.”

The instrument made it’s way to North America in 1705 and was played up until the 1920s or so — at which point guitars and accordions came into favor. The Appalachian dulcimer, which is strummed, was invented in the early 1800s, developed by Scotch Irish settlers and has a much softer sound than the hammered dulcimer.

Moser notes there was a revival in hammered dulcimers when folk music made a resurgence in the 1970s.

“What limits it is the 29 courses of strings,” he says. “People ask me, ‘Is it hard to play?’ I tell them, ‘No, it’s easy to play. Just be prepared to spend half an hour a day every day keeping it in tune.’”

Admission to the Parlor Music Series  at the Bridgehampton Historical Society (2368 Montauk Highway) is $5. Seats sell out early, so reserve at 537-1088. Coming up on October 18, 2008  is nautical songsmith John Corr followed on October 25 by banjo virtuoso Bob Barta and a puppet operetta on November 1 by Liz Joyce and Steven Widerman.

 (Above: Larry Moser at the hammered dulcimer)


Plowing Through History

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“So it gets pretty hot in here,” said Matt Habermann as he switched on the lights in the barn behind the Bridgehampton Historical Society’s Corwith House. As the rows of fluorescent bulbs flickered on, they revealed a jumbled maze of old wood and metal. The historical society’s antique engine collection sits quietly in the windowless barn, farm equipment still gleaming under a thin coating of 50-year-old grease, emblazoned with red paint and yellow lettering boasting strengths of five to nine horsepower.
“These things weigh a ton,” said Habermann, a fourth year University of Arizona history major who is interning at the historical society this summer for school credit. After organizing the society’s information on their annual road rally and formatting an annotated bibliography of their books on local shipping, Habermann is now completing a catalogue describing each of the 75 engines and tools stored in the barn.
He described how he also had to help clear a path through the heavy equipment so the exterminators could get to the bug-infested thresher, an enormous wooden contraption hunkered in the back right corner of the space.
“This is my favorite item,” Habermann said, walking over to a waist high green and yellow toothy apparatus with a small motor attached. The tall, thin metal wheels are spiked, and downward-pointing spades hang off the back like an insect’s mandibles. Habermann identified the machine as a “cultivator,” which he guesses would have been used to plant corn. Unfortunately, a lot of the identification process for Habermann is guesswork.
“We really have no resident experts,” said the historical society’s program coordinator Stacy Dermont, who explained that because the engines are from such an early time period, mostly from the nineteen-teens, there is very little information available. Apparently, much is still a mystery.
“The people who know about them are either dead or not on the Internet,” she says.
Consequently, Dermont noted that the work Habermann has been doing is vital, especially with the society moving to the Nathaniel Rogers House at the other end of Main Street in a few years time. She expressed that at that time the society wishes to be a fully functioning research facility.
Habermann is a native of Westchester County, N.Y., but has summered in Bridgehampton on Bay Lane with his family for years. Out of the heat of the barn under the shade of a tree on the historical society’s lawn, he remembered watching the seaplanes land at the Mecox Yacht Club. He is incredibly enamored of this area, and given the opportunity would like to focus more on Long Island history in the future.
The society is also being helped this summer by another intern, rising Southampton High School junior Chris Szafranski. Szafranski, another history buff, was paired up with the Bridgehampton Historical Society through his school’s “Broader Horizons” internship program. He too is working on their annotated bibliography, as well as helping photo archivist Julie Greene by scanning the museum’s extensive collection of photographs — over a century of images.
Both interns seem to be enjoying themselves as they dredge through the years and years of historic materials. Habermann’s only complaint is the building’s lack of air conditioning. Still, there was no chip on his shoulder as he walked briskly through the cramped hallways, past carved wooden geese and the amplifying horn of an old phonograph. Back in the barn, he laughed as he pointed at the back wall. There hung an old sign that read, fittingly, “These Old Engines: took the drudgery out of the teen.”

Matt Habermann, the Bridgehampton Historical Society’s intern surrounded by the antique engines in the society’s barn, which he will catalog this summer. (michael heller photo)