Tag Archive | "Southampton"

“Clyborne Park” Opens March 12 At Hampton Theatre Company

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postCard-clybourne-park-patronMail

“Clybourne Park”—the wickedly funny and provocative play by Bruce Norris about how the different faces and shades of racism can make a straightforward real estate transaction anything but—will be the third production of the Hampton Theatre Company’s 30th anniversary season. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play opens on March 12 at the Quogue Community Hall and will run through March 29.

The two acts of “Clybourne Park” are in fact two separate plays set 50 years apart and spinning off Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama, “A Raisin in the Sun.” With a cast of seven taking on different roles in the play’s two halves, act one is set in 1959, as nervous community leaders anxiously try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act two is set in the same house in the present day, as the now predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to stand fast against the onslaught of gentrification.

Calling the play, which won the Olivier and Evening Standard awards for its London production, a “sharp-witted, sharp-toothed comedy of American uneasiness,” Ben Brantley wrote in The New York Times that “the very structure of ‘Clybourne Park’ posits the idea of a nation (and even a world) trapped in a societal purgatory of ineptitude and anxiety.”

The cast of “Clybourne Park” features four Hampton Theatre Company veterans and three newcomers. Matt Conlon was most recently on the Quogue stage in the fall in the role of Ellwood P. Dowd in “Harvey,” following his turn in the title role in “The Foreigner” last March. Joe Pallister, who also appeared in “The Foreigner,” was last on the Quogue stage in last spring’s production of “God of Carnage.”  Ben Schnickel is familiar to Hampton Theatre Company audiences from “The Foreigner,” as well as “The Drawer Boy,” “Becky’s New Car,” and “Rabbit Hole.” Returning to the Quogue stage for the first time since her appearance in “Desperate Affection,” Rebecca Edana first appeared with the HTC in the company’s revival of “Bedroom Farce.” Rounding out the cast and trailing extensive lists of New York and regional credits are Juanita Frederick, Shonn McCloud, and Anette Michelle Sanders. HTC Executive Director Sarah Hunnewell will direct.

“Clybourne Park” runs at the Quogue Community Hall from March 12 through 29, with shows on Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Information is available at hamptontheatre.org. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 1 (866) 811-4111.

 

Almond Expands Into Tribeca

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Chef Jason Weiner.

Chef Jason Weiner.

By Gianna Volpe

Chef Jason Weiner now has another Almond to love, which brings the count up to four if one considers his lovely wife – namesake to the now three Almond restaurants owned by Mr. Weiner and partner, Eric Lemonides – as the brand-new Tribeca location had its official opening last Wednesday night.

“We had a press dinner, then four nights of friends and families,” Chef Weiner said of private events that led up to Almond Tribeca’s opening night. “Before that we had a mock service where half of our staff sat down and ate while the other half took orders and then we flipped it around. That’s part of the process, so by opening night it’s almost old hat because we’ve been doing it for more than a week.”

This is a common service tightening ritual among experienced restaurateurs and one that should not be ignored, according to Chef Weiner.

“It’s so important,” he said of practicing mock service trials before opening a new restaurant. “The last thing we want to do is charge people money when we don’t really have it together.”

Lovers of Bridgehampton and Manhattan’s Almond locations will be happy to learn the menu in Tribeca includes the restaurant’s tri-steak standard, as well as its signature Caesar salad and Brussels sprouts two ways, but may be thrilled by its new roast chicken for two and a unique duck dish Chef Weiner said is simply bursting with Long Island flavor.
He said the duck breast dish combines the Amber Waves Farm sweet potato and Long Island Mushroom Company shitake ravioli that can found at Almond Bridgehampton with a Crescent Farms duck breast that is served with house-made Sirracha at its Tribeca location and a l’orange in Manhattan.

“We’re also doing a super fantastic lobster sausage appetizer, which is delicious and getting some great feedback,” Chef Weiner said of the menu at Almond Tribeca. “I’m still keeping as local as possible, but bringing stuff from my friends on Long Island. If you know us from other places, the menu will have familiarity to you, but there are some things on there that are specific to the new space.”

That includes the décor at Almond on Tribeca’s Franklin Street, which East Enders may also be pleased to learn includes the red-back dropped zebra herd found in the signature Scalamandre wallpaper found at Almond’s Bridgehampton location.

“It has a lot of warmth to it, but is airy and Tribeca-ish in its own right; we like our places to stand on their own,” said Chef Weiner.

He added Almond Tribeca is a “pretty, cool place” that can be found “smack dab” between TriBeCa Grill and Nobu, which belongs to Myriad Restaurant Group’s Drew Nieporent.

“Eric [Lemonides] worked for him as the general manager of Della Femina 20 years ago,” Chef Weiner said of Mr. Nieporent. “We’ve been building the place since October, so he’s been popping in to give us some informal advice and wish us well. He’s a good guy…a real trailblazer. They opened TriBeCa grill 25 years ago when there really wasn’t much down there, so the guy’s a visionary, obviously.”
Chef Weiner said today the area’s unique dichotomy – where “families and commerce” set streets a-bustle by day leaving behind “ a lot of dark alleyways” by night – is one in which he and his team are excited to join.

“Tribeca is very specific” he said of the new Almond location. “We’re really psyched to be down there.”

Almond Tribeca is located at 186 Franklin Street in New York City. Almond NYC is located at 12 East 22nd Street in New York City. Almond Bridgehampton is located at One Ocean Road in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit almon

Pierson Students Earn Choral Society of the Hamptons Scholarships

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Pierson High School Senior Rebecca Dwoskin.

Pierson High School Senior Rebecca Dwoskin.

Four South Fork high school seniors have won this year’s scholarships for voice training from the Choral Society of the Hamptons, including three students from Pierson High School.

The Society established the scholarship program more than two decades ago and has awarded scholarships to several dozen students, a number of whom have gone on to professional careers in music and active participation in amateur musical organizations.

The 2014 winners were announced this week.

Rebeccsa Dwoskin, a senior at Pierson High School, has performed in a number of school musicals locally, including “A Chorus Line.” Ms. Dwoskin has studied voice with Amanda Jones of East Hampton, while also taking dance and performing as a flutist. Her musical theater roles have also included the title role in Annie. Her chorus teacher, Suzanne Nicoletti, wrote the committee that “she has the work ethic, dedication and passion” for a successful career.

Oree Livni, also a Pierson senior, is a member of the Choral Society and studies piano with Daniel Koontz. Mr. Livni has performed in middle and high school choirs as well as in the Hamptons Music Educators Association (HMEA) festival and in the New York State School Music Association (NYSMA) chorus.

“One of the most musical teenagers I have met,” said Ms. Nicoletti.

Megan Beedenbender, another Pierson senior will also receive scholarship. Since sixth grade, she has sung in choirs at HMEA and NYSMA performances, as well as in the New York State Council of Administrators of Music Education chorus. “Music is my biggest passion,” she says, and she was described by Ms. Nicoletti as “my most enthusiastic singer.” In college, she hopes to expand her knowledge of classical works in German and Italian.

Southampton High School’s Jacqueline Minogue also earned an award.

Ms. Minogue and Ms. Dwoskin won Doris and William Leese Scholarships worth $500. Mr. Livni won the Norman Dello Joio Scholarship and Ms. Beedenbender the Charlotte Rogers Smith Scholarship, each worth $250.

Parrish Recognizes 25 Young Artists

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The 2015 Student Exhibition, High School Artists Reception. Photo by Tom Kochie

The 2015 Student Exhibition, High School Artists Reception. Photo by Tom Kochie

On Saturday, February 28, the Parrish Art Museum will honor 25 young artists for their work that is on view in the 2015 Student Exhibition. Selected from more than 150 high school student participants by Neill Slaughter, a professor of Visual Art at Long Island University, C.W. Post campus, these up-and-coming artists will be celebrated at a ceremony at the museum, where Parrish Director Terrie Sultan and Mr. Slaughter will present Awards of Excellence to 19 Seniors, and “Ones to Watch” Awards to six underclassmen.

Mr. Slaughter, a practicing artist and professor for 36 years who has been the judge at several Student Exhibitions, based his selection of winners on a variety of criteria, not limited to ability nor talent.

“While I certainly value skill and technique, ultimately I look for an honesty and truth in the artwork,” he said. “Artists become inspired by something, which is … interpreted as well as communicated visually. The best art is transcendent, whereby the viewer is emotionally moved or taken to another place by the artist’s interpretation.”

The ceremony will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. with Parrish Education Director Cara Conklin-Wingfield announcing the names of the winners, who will come forward with their teacher to accept certificates. Refreshments will be served at the event, which is open to the public.

The Student Exhibition, a 60-year tradition at the Parrish Art Museum, opened this year on January 31 and is on view through March 1, featuring the work of more than 2,000 young artists from public, private, parochial, and home schools on the East End.

On the Southampton and East Hampton towns, East Hampton High School’s Claudia Fino will be honored for her drawing, “Three Spheres.” Southampton High School’s Kim Gonzalez will be awarded for her mixed media piece, “Concentration.” Pierson’s Theo Gray will be honored for his photography project, “Untitled.” East Hampton High School’s Brenden Snow and The Ross School’s Brenna Leaver are also honored for their untitled photography projects. In printmaking, Pierson’s Daniella Nolan has received honors for her piece, “Innocence;” The Ross School’s Evelyn Jiaoxue and Abby Wang will also be honored for “Untitled,” and “The Rape of Nanking,” respectively. In 3-D sculpture, Pierson’s Zoe Diskin will be honored for her “Self Portrait Assemblage.”

Southampton’s Abby Clemente and East Hampton’s Elvis Uchupaille have been named as underclassmen “One’s to Watch.”

The Parrish Art Museum is located at 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, call (631) 283-2118 or visit parrishart.org. 

HarborFrost All Star Comedy Show at Bay Street

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Corinne Fisher is one of several comedians that will appear at Bay Street Theater’s HarborFrost All Star Comedy Show.

Corinne Fisher is one of several comedians that will appear at Bay Street Theater’s HarborFrost All Star Comedy Show.

Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts will host the HarborFrost All Star Comedy Show, hosted by Joseph Vecsey, on Saturday, February 28 at 8 p.m. The comedy show features rising stars of comedy, including Mr. Vecsey. Other comics for the evening include Corinne Fisher (Guys We F*****), Regina DeCicco (Gotham AXS TV), and Chris Clarke (BET Comic View).

Mr. Vecsey has performed in bars, clubs, theaters, colleges, restaurants, rough urban rooms in Brooklyn and Staten Island, even a hostel on 103rd and Amsterdam. He opened for Jim Breuer and Susie Essman at Bay Street Theater in 2013. Since the beginning of his show at Bay Street Theater he has hosted various shows in New York City and popular clubs like the Laff House in Philadelphia and Jokers Wild in New Haven.

Ms. Fisher is a stand-up comedian, writer and actor originally from Union, New Jersey. She first made a splash with her debut one-woman show Corinne Fisher: I STALK YOU, which had a run at The Peoples Improv Theater (The PIT) in the Summer of 2010 and was featured in Time Out New York. Since then, she has been a regular on the stand-up scene playing anything from dive bars to world-famous comedy clubs like Stand Up NY, New York Comedy Club, Caroline’s, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Broadway Comedy Club, Comix, Laugh Boston, The Stress Factory & Gotham. Perhaps most notable is her duo show with Krystyna Hutchinson. In December 2013, the duo launched Guys We F*%!@*!: The Anti Slut-Shaming Podcast that now boasts over half a million subscribers.

Ms. DeCicco became the winner of the Ladies of Laughter competition (2012), which was held at various clubs all over Manhattan-with participants from all over the country. She was accepted into the 2013 Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. She has performed at various comedy clubs and bars.

Mr. Clarke has appeared on BET’s 106th Park, the Las Vegas Comedy Festival, and was The Runner up in New England’s Funniest Comic Competition. Mr. Clarke has also appeared on BET Comic View.

Tickets to the HarborFrost All Star Comedy Show at Bay Street Theater, 2 Bay Street, Sag Harbor are $20 and are available online at baystreet.org or by calling the Bay Street Theater Box Office at (631) 725-9500.

 

Parrish Announces Chuck Close Photographs Exhibit

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Chuck Close (American, born 1940). Self-Portrait/Composite/Nine Parts, 1979. 9 Polaroids, 83 x 69 inches. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Gift of Barbara and Eugene Schwartz.

Chuck Close (American, born 1940). Self-Portrait/Composite/Nine Parts, 1979. 9 Polaroids, 83 x 69 inches. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Gift of Barbara and Eugene Schwartz.

The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill announced last week that it has organized Chuck Close Photographs, the first comprehensive survey of the photographic work of the renowned American artist. The exhibit will be on view May 10 through July 26 and will feature some 90 images from 1964 to the present, from early black and white manquettes to composite Polaroids to intimately scaled daguerreotypes and the most recent Polaroid nudes. The exhibition explores how Mr. Close, one of the most important figures in contemporary art, has stretched the boundaries of photographic means, methods, and approaches.

“The photographic origin of each Close painting is well known; however, Close’s exploration of the medium itself extends far beyond the use of photographs as a programmatic tool,” said Parrish Art Museum Director and exhibition co-organizer Terrie Sultan. “Whether he uses a photographic image as source material or as an end in and of itself, everything he creates begins with a photograph. Chuck Close Photographs provides an in-depth look at photography as the foundation of Close’s creative process.”

The exhibition builds on the Parrish Art Museum’s long history of working with Close, as Sultan also organized Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration, which has travelled to nearly 20 venues worldwide since 2003. Chuck Close Photographs, co-organized by Sultan and Colin Westerbeck, independent curator and photography scholar, traces Close’s use of the camera throughout his more than 45-year career and features a variety of photographic media.

Madoo Talks Lecture Series Opens with Lindsey Taylor

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Lindsey Taylor.

Lindsey Taylor.

The Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack will host its Madoo Talks Winter Lecture series in February and March, opening with Lindsey Taylor, one of the authors of “The Gardener’s Garden,” a book that explores gardens from around the world and throughout the ages meant to serve as an inspiration to the modern-day gardener. Ms. Taylor, who will speak on Sunday, February 22, will use examples such as

Hollister House, Dawn Ridge, Les Quatre Vents, Prospect Cottage and other personal idiosyncratic gardens featured in “The Gardener’s Garden,” to discuss the need for a garden to have a soul, passion and individual vision to be truly successful. A book signing will follow the discussion.

Madoo Talks will continue on Sunday, March 8 with Sagaponack farmer, artist and writer, Marilee Foster. Ms. Foster, whose family settled in Sagaponack during the mid-1700s, will take a realistic yet humorous look at development on the East End along with the difficulties of farming in the 21st century and the success at her wildly popular Sagg Main farmstand.

Stephen Orr, author of “The New American Herbal,” will join Madoo Talks on March 29, examining the long tradition of herbals while adding new layers of information based on a multicultural look at the herbs we use in our homes and gardens.

Maddo Talks: Lindsey Taylor will be held on Sunday, February 22 at noon at the Madoo Conservancy summer house studio, 618 Sagg Main Road in Sagaponack. Tickets are $25 for members; $30 for non-members and a reception, sponsored by The Topping Rose House, will follow. To reserve your seat, email info@madoo.org or call (631) 537-8200. 

Sag Harbor School District Is Prime for Real Estate

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Linda Adlah rented a home in Sag Harbor so her children, Anabella and Gabrielle, could attend the Sag Harbor Elementary School. Michael Heller photo.

Linda Adlah rented a home in Sag Harbor so her children, Anabella and Gabrielle, could attend the Sag Harbor Elementary School. Michael Heller photo.

By Tessa Raebeck

First known for whale oil, then watches, Sag Harbor is again being recognized, this time for its schools. The East End real estate market has seen an influx of buyers and renters with one primary request: living in the Sag Harbor School District.

“In real estate sales, there are always the five top questions potential buyers will ask and always in the top five is: ‘How is the school district?’” said Robert Evjen, a broker at Douglas Elliman in Sag Harbor. “It is always on the buyer’s mind.”

“For those buyers with families or starting to have families,” he continued, “this is critical to the future of that family and critical about where to buy. For families who already have children, a location with a ‘neighborhood feel’ and a place ‘where the kids can play safely’ is very, very important. Moms and dads are willing to pay more to ensure a quality education.”

Sag Harbor, currently viewed as a smart investment by financiers and young families alike, is drawing buyers and renters who want to send their kids to school in the village—and the resurgence of popularity is in turn driving market prices up.

“We have seen an uptick of families moving here ‘year round’ and we are blessed that the Sag Harbor School District has always been popular with these new families. As these families move here and learn about the East End and what choices or schools to send their children, we always seem to be the choice,” Mr. Evjen said.

With a current total enrollment of 1,011 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, Sag Harbor is smaller than nearby East Hampton, but not as small as Bridgehampton, with just 159 students in the district, or Shelter Island, which has 242 students. The student-faculty ratio at Pierson Middle/High School is nine to one, better than Westhampton Beach’s 14 to one and comparable to East Hampton and Southampton, which have 10 students per teacher, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Liam Rothwell-Pessino, lives in Springs, but decided to attend high school in Sag Harbor because of Pierson’s smaller size.

“The school being smaller means I get to know more people better, teachers included,” he said of his experience at Pierson, where he is currently a senior.

Sag Harbor Superintendent Katy Graves said the school district projects its enrollment to increase until 2018, when there will be an estimated 1,080 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

Mr. Evjen said there has been a “tremendous” increase of families wanting to live in the school district, indicated by the growth of the pre-kindergarten program and the increase in non-resident students, which he called “a great testament to the curriculum the school has set up.”

The school district currently receives tuition for 29 nonresident students; the Sagaponack School District pays for nine, the Springs School District pays for three, and 17 pay privately. The tuition rate for nonresident students for the current school year is $17,038 for students to attend the elementary school and $22,148 to attend Pierson. Special education students are charged $46,464 and $53,380, respectively.

A school district must pay tuition for its residents to attend school elsewhere if that student has a special need the district cannot meet, such as observational therapy or speech therapy. Sag Harbor’s comprehensive approach to students with disabilities adds to the draw for many families.

Having moved from Hampton Bays to Sag Harbor when her two daughters were babies, Linda Torres Adlah has been renting in the district ever since; her girls are now in third and fourth grade at the elementary school.

“Both of my daughters had to go through the evaluation process when they were younger, one needed speech therapy and one needed some physical therapy and observational therapy, and it was a very easy environment. They were very forthcoming with giving the kids what they needed to have when they were little,” she said of the elementary school faculty. “I never had to worry that they wouldn’t get the services they needed, there was always lots of support. I’ve heard such good things about the school that I knew that’s where I wanted them to be.”

Propping Up Sag Harbor’s Historic Buildings

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20 Union Street, which served as Chester A. Arthur's summer White House, is one of several historic houses currently under renovation in Sag Harbor.

20 Union Street, which served as Chester A. Arthur’s summer White House, is one of several historic houses currently under renovation in Sag Harbor.

By Stephen J. Kotz; Photography by Michael Heller

Only the facade remains of the original "Bottle House" on Madison and Henry streets.

Only the facade remains of the original “Bottle House” on Madison and Henry streets.

Even a blind man can see that the Sag Harbor Village Historic District is undergoing major changes.

Above and beyond the well-publicized conversion of turning the old Bulova building into luxury condominiums or the transformation of the former First Methodist Church on Madison Street into a private home, Sag Harbor is undergoing a full-scale renovation boom.

On Main Street alone, at least three major renovations are underway. A walk down Howard Street is more a tour of one extended job site than it is a stroll down a village side street. New construction is cropping up on Glover Street, Palmer Terrace, Bay Street, and just about everywhere one looks.

In some cases, historic houses are being completely rebuilt. The Sleight House on Division Street, in the shadow of the Bulova building, underwent a major renovation this past year that eventually turned into a complete rebuilding job, leading to a stop-work order and a rebuke from the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board before work was allowed to proceed.

At 245 Main Street, original windows, trim and other historic materials are being preserved in that renovation, according to the project's architect.

At 245 Main Street, original windows, trim and other historic materials are being preserved in that renovation, according to the project’s architect.

The former Abelman family home on Madison Street at the foot of Henry Street, which is more commonly known as the “Bottle House” for the collection of colored glass bottles that once adorned the porch windows, was also the subject of a major renovation. Last summer, builders moved the simple, wood-framed Greek Revival house from one side of the lot to the other. As they built a major addition behind it, they eventually removed most of the original house except for part of the façade.

The wholesale changes have set off a quiet sense of alarm among some onlookers. One of them is Chris Leonard, a former longtime chairman of the Sag Harbor’s ARB, who argues the village is failing to do enough to protect historic homes.

“An authentic representation of the past is valuable to society,” he said of the need to preserve Sag Harbor’s historic buildings. “You don’t just tear down the pyramids or the Sphinx because they are old and you want something new…. This is where we came from. We need to try to preserve the best of it and not destroy it and build some sort of replica.”

That same sentiment is shared by Randolph Croxton, an architect with a home in the village, who ironically first visited Sag Harbor over the winter of 1979-80 and helped lead the initial effort to convert the Bulova building into apartments.

“I guess I call it ‘skinning the cat,’” he said of the latest trend in restoration. “You strip off all the details and the hardware and you come back with a re-creation that is all new. But so much of the authenticity is lost when you do that.”

He worries too about changes to Sag Harbor’s broader sense of place, which he describes as having an “open, authentic, multi-generational quality that is not hiding behind hedges.” When a building like the “Bottle House,” which once stood at the foot of Henry Street, is shifted to one side of the property, it throws off the balance and destroys “the axial relationships, and composition” of a streetscape that was laid out to create “an open commons,” he said. It’s the kind of change that might not mean much to a casual observer, he added, but one that, if multiplied, can have an incrementally deleterious effect.

The village’s historic district is expansive, including most of the waterfront from Glover Street east. It extends southward around much of the rest of the village in a broad arc, roughly following Hempstead Street and portions of Grand and Harrison Streets. It includes all of Oakland Cemetery and Mashashimuet Park, while excluding two more recently developed residential streets, Joel’s Lane and Archibald Way. The district runs north along Main Street, jutting to the west to include portions of John Street, while excluding Bluff Point. It extends back down Glover Street, but does not include the Redwood neighborhood.

When the village established the ARB, it included language in the zoning code charging it with not only maintaining the character of the village historic district but of following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Houses.

Among those guidelines are provisions calling for making minimal changes to “historic materials and features” of buildings in the historic district that are being renovated or expanded.

Too often that is not the case, according to Mr. Leonard, and much of the fault lies at the foot of the ARB, which is not, he says, following the letter of the law when it reviews applications for renovations in the historic district. Too often, he said, sanitized replicas are being built in the place of flawed, but historically valuable, gems.

“I don’t think this is rocket science,” said Mr. Leonard of the regulations for historic preservation.  “It’s not a mystery. If the board has questions about how they should proceed, they should first all look to the law, read, understand, and if they still have questions, they should ask the village attorney.”

Cee Scott Brown, the current chairman of the ARB, was out of town and did not reply to emailed requests for an interview. Other members of the board also declined to speak on the record about the process they follow.

But at recent meetings, board members have often expressed the desire to see historic homes preserved in as authentic a fashion as possible. For example, when an architect appeared before the board last fall to gauge the board’s feelings about possibly adding a small addition to the Captain David Hand House on Church Street, his proposal was shot down in summary fashion. A revamped plan presented by another architect that called for a top-to-bottom preservation effort was approved with flying colors in December.

But the question remains how to make sure finished projects accurately reflect the intention of the ARB.

According to Mr. Leonard, all too often they have not. Referring to a photograph of the work at the Sleight House, he said, “all the historic material is the Dumpster and they have done a reproduction. How do you get from what it says in the code to this?”

Building inspector Tom Preiato, who joined the village in November, said he could not comment on past practices but said he intended to make sure property owners comply strictly with the plans they have submitted.

“There appears to be a fair amount of decision making by builders and homeowners to remove pre-existing, nonconforming structures that they deem unsound, without the required approvals,” he said. “I am attempting to keep this trend in check.”

To that end, Mr. Preiato recently slapped a stop-work order on a major renovation project at 295 Main Street, where most of an existing house was taken apart, moved from its foundation and set back away from the street, with a significant amount of new material added. In Mr. Preiato’s eyes, that constituted a demolition. And once a house has been demolished, the reduced setbacks and other zoning allowances that went with the property are lost too, meaning a rebuilding project would likely require variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

About a block north, the shingles and much of the trim that adorned a house dating to the late 1800s at 245 Main Street has been stripped away. Today, the house, sporting a large addition to the rear, is sheathed in green wrap to keep air and moisture out.

Is another replica of a historic house on the way? Absolutely not, said Jason Poremba, the Southampton architect overseeing the project.

Mr. Poremba, who oversaw a top-to-bottom renovation of the Hannibal French house several years ago, said his client, whom he would only identify by the corporate name, Coming Up Roses, LLC,  “was making a conscientious effort to preserve as much of the original house as possible.”

Although the shingles will be replaced, windows, trim and other hardware that have been removed have been shipped upstate for restoration and repair and will be placed back on the house, wherever possible, he said.

“The killer is the New York State code,” said Mr. Poremba of the problems facing people who are trying to do renovate a historic house. “When you reach a certain level of construction you have to start to bring the house up to meet local codes.”

One requirement is that a house must meet energy efficiency standards by passing a test in which the building is sealed and pressurized to determine points of leakage. “We won’t know until the end of the job if the house fails,” he said. Because of that, the contractor is required to painstakingly reassemble the house, which adds to the cost of the project.

“You can do it,” he said of preserving a historic house. “But a lot comes into play. If there are spec builders involved, to systematically take it apart and rebuild it really wouldn’t make sense.”

Architect Monika Zasada, who has been overseeing a major renovation at 20 Union Street—a house that is well known among village residents as the former summer White House of President Chester A. Arthur and later the Pino Funeral Home—takes a similar approach to Mr. Poremba.

In an emailed statement, she said, “dealing with an edifice that is centuries old poses a tremendous challenge. One is faced with incessant questions. Is repairing, restoring or replacing the most sensible policy? Which approach ensures that the renovation is a lasting one?

“When does investing in frequently exorbitantly priced historic elements stop making economic sense? How to mitigate the disparity between arbitrary pieces of trim installed in previously attempted repairs? What to do when the entire framing is completely compromised and most of the foundation consists of two rows of rocks? How can the house’s visual quality be preserved when it needs to be brought up to current building codes?”

Ms. Zasada credited the home’s owner, Anke Beck-Friedrich, and the contractor, Greg D’Angelo, for making it possible to restore as much of the house as possible.

“As a result of all the repairs, restoration, authentic replication and new construction, the history will live on,” she wrote. “The building will be preserved for future generations.”

 

Such efforts should be encouraged, according to Mr. Croxton. “Every place in America is trying to do a town center, with a make-believe town clock, like Disneyland,” he said. “And here, we have the real thing.”

 

Although Mr. Croxton says he believes the village has reached a tipping point and it is “now time for concerted effort and community response,” he insists that all is not lost for Sag Harbor. “The things that are wrong are highly visible and disturbing,” he said, “but a lot is intact and still of good quality.”

 

“There are always people who want to do what they want to do,” added Mr. Leonard. “You just have to be willing to say ‘no.’”

Writing about Nature with Poet Farmer Scott Chaskey

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Scott Chaskey

Scott Chaskey

By Emily J. Weitz

Scott Chaskey speaks for the land, and he does it with his hands as well as his words. Out in the fields at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett almost every day, Mr. Chaskey knows the soil, he knows the migratory patterns of birds, he knows the seasons. Through the two books he’s published in recent years, “This Common Ground” and “Seedtime,” Mr. Chaskey has spread his understanding across the country and has impacted the larger farm to table movement. But his roots are not in farming, and they’re not in nonfiction writing. Scott Chaskey was educated a poet.

Mr. Chaskey met his wife Megan, a Kundalini yoga teacher and poet herself, while earning his MFA degree in England. Ever since, they’ve both woven poetry into whatever they do. Now, as the Director of Quail Hill, his voice has become a significant contributor to the national conversation about farms and sustainability. And it only makes sense that in his poetry as well as his prose, nature is a great source of inspiration.

“We can connect with nature through the written word,” said Mr. Chaskey.

He hesitates to term himself a nature writer, though he has great respect for many others who are. John Fowles, who wrote “The Tree,” had a particular impact on him, and he quoted him in “Seedtime.” Other major influences include John Haye.

“He’s a spectacular writer about the natural world, and wrote in the mid to late 20th century,” said Mr. Chaskey.

His own teachers, first at SUNY Binghamton and then in graduate school, taught him a great deal about capturing the natural world with words.

At this point in our conversation, Mr. Chaskey gasped, then laughed.

“A bird just flew into my window!” he said. “I have to go!”

When he called back, he informed me that a sparrow had flown into the window of the shop at Quail Hill, where he was at work.

“Here we are talking about a connection with nature and a sparrow flies into the window,” he laughed. “I suppose nature is something you can’t get away from.”

It reminded him of an early connection he made between writing and nature. He was living in a fishing village in Cornwall, England while he pursued his MFA. His mentor was a poet named Edgar Wallace, and he also felt the connection between the beautiful cliff meadows and the urge to write.

“Edgar was part of the landscape,” recalls Mr. Chaskey. “I remember one day coming down the steep hill, and Edgar was coming the other way. And he walked over to a bush, and hugged the bush. It was his way of greeting me. He was so connected to the natural world that he hugged the bush.”

Mr. Chaskey feels that same kind of deep connection now, though he didn’t always. Growing up in the suburbs didn’t nurture that kind of connection. But he found it in Cornwall, and it’s only grown since.

“It took a while for that connection to surface,” he said, “but since I’ve lived on the cliffs of Cornwall and on this beautiful peninsula, it has become crisp.”

As well as being a farmer and poet, Mr. Chaskey is a teacher. He’s taught poetry to children, college students, and adults. Over the next two weeks, he will lead a workshop on writing about nature at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor.

“I want it to be open. I’ll present things that I think are wonderful examples of people writing about nature, and people will bring their own thoughts and favorite passages… It always bubbles up out of the experience of who’s in the room.”

There’s a line by the poet George Oppen: “There are things we live among, and to see them is to know ourselves.” Mr. Chaskey uses this as a guide to his practice of writing about nature.

“We have to be in it,” he said. “I advise walking as much as you can, looking and seeing, and combine that with reading other passages from writers you admire.”

Writing about Nature with Scott Chaskey will take place at Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street in Sag Harbor, on Thursday, February 19 and Thursday, February 26 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $75 for both sessions and registration is required. Call Canio’s Books at (631) 725-4926 or visit caniosbooks.com for more information.