Society seeks historic designation for Westhampton Beach home


The Westhampton Beach Historical Society wants to make the Foster-Meeker Homestead, the 18th-Century Cape Cod-style house that was moved from Main Street to Mill Road last year, the first village structure listed on the New York State and national historical registers.

The Historical Society has enlisted the help of Zach Studenroth, an architectural preservation consultant, to complete an application form for the Foster-Meeker Homestead with the

New York State Historical Preservation Office

by this March. Mr. Studenroth explained to those attending the Historical Society’s annual meeting on Sunday afternoon that the state preservation office will then decide whether or not the house should be listed on the registry based on his presentation.

“We’re going to throw everything we have at them,” Mr. Studenroth told the nearly 30 group members gathered inside Westhampton Beach Village Hall.

The Historical Society plans on preserving the structure and renovating its interior to show how the inside of a home would have looked in the mid-1700s. The home was built in 1735. The historic designation is a vital part of the preservation process because it will establish stringent guidelines if anyone wishes to renovate the building in the future.

“Listing the building on the state and national registers gives it stature,” Mr. Studenroth said Tuesday. “It has historical attributes that warrant its preservation and elevates it to a status that discourages demolition or improper renovations.”

The Westhampton Beach Building Department, if all goes as planned, would be the agency responsible for approving any proposed modifications, according to Mr. Studenroth. Village Attorney Bo Bishop said the village will probably have to revisit the rules on how to treat such historic structures if the Foster-Meeker Homestead is added to the state and federal registries.

Historical Society Vice President Bob Murray has stated that the renovation of the home will cost his organization at least $300,000. Mr. Murray said there is about $13,000 currently allocated toward working on the home. He added that a dinner at a Westhampton Beach restaurant in April will serve as a fund-raising event to help restore the home.

At Sunday’s meeting, Mr. Studenroth explained that the Historical Society would have a better chance in obtaining state and federal grants to restore the home if it is listed on both the state and national registers.

Stephanie Davis, the corresponding secretary for the Westhampton Beach Historical Society, said in an e-mail Monday that, if Mr. Studenroth succeeds, the Foster-Meeker Homestead would be the first structure in the village listed on the state and national registers of historic places.

The Foster-Meeker Homestead was moved in mid-June from its original home, located just west of Turkey Bridge, next door to the Historical Society’s Tuttle Hill Museum on Mill Road. Funding for moving the home came, in part, from Walter Goldstein, the owner of the property where the home was originally located. Mr. Goldstein gave the group $29,000 to relocate the home.

Mr. Studenroth noted that, in his opinion, the house has a strong chance of making it onto both the state and federal historic registers. Because many homes in Westhampton Beach have been destroyed by natural occurrences, such as the Hurricane of 1938, Mr. Studenroth believes that the Foster-Meeker Homestead is the oldest home in Westhampton Beach.

“This may be the earliest house left standing in the village,” Mr. Studenroth said. “It predates 1750 in the way it’s built.”

Because the home was moved from its original location, Mr. Studenroth said that he will be applying only to have the footprint of the estimated 1,000-square-foot home listed on the registers; the Mill Road property on which the house now sits will not be listed, he explained.

Ms. Davis explained that one Westhampton structure­—the Jagger House—had been listed on both the state and national registers. That home, which had been located on the north side of Montauk Highway, just west of the intersection with Tanners Neck Lane and outside the village boundaries, burned down in 1979, according to a history book written by Ronald Michne and his son Ronald Michne Jr.

According to Ms. Davis, the only other structures near Westhampton Beach that are listed on the registers are the Fordham Mill in Speonk and the Big Duck in Flanders. The Fordham Mill, located on Montauk Highway, is a brick mill that was built in 1815, according to the same history book. The Big Duck, located on Flanders Road in Flanders, is a duck-shaped structure that once complemented a Long Island duck farmer’s business.

In other news, the Historical Society on Sunday named three new trustees—Jackie Monette and Regina and Nicholas DiBenedetto—to its board. The treasurers will serve two-year terms that expire in 2011.

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