Tupper Boat House Named Historic Landmark In North Sea

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The Tupper Boathouse, at Conscience Point in North Sea, was built between 1929 and 1931, and it has an illustrious history spanning from its construction as a workshop for the Tupper Motorcraft boat company to its demise as an infamous nightclub known for the antics of socialite Lizzie Grubman.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Southampton Town Board voted unanimously to declare the building a historic landmark and preserve it. That will make the building, which was recently partially restored after damage in Hurricane Sandy, eligible for grant money to complete the restoration.

“I am here to honor the Town Board and everyone that has been crucial to the resurrection and restoration of the boathouse,” Tom Tupper, whose family had owned the property, said at the board meeting. “There have been many ideas about its future, and I encourage the community to add suggestions. Everything will be geared toward the youth of the community.”

According to Sally Spanburgh, chairwoman of the town’s Landmarks and Historic Districts Board, the property has been an integral part of North Sea’s history.

The property was first purchased by Frank Tupper, who worked for the National Business Showcase in New York City in 1928, and was built between 1929 and 1930. Once the boathouse was constructed, the family used the property to operate the Tupper Motorcraft Company, which built, repaired and restored boats.

The exterior of the building, which features five boat bays and space for boat storage, is a classic example of the colonial revival style, according to Ms. Spanburgh, who said the Tupper family lived above the business in a residential wing of the building.

During the time the Tuppers lived on the property, the house was the center of North Sea society, having served as the meeting place for a weekly sewing club and as the first official meeting place of the North Sea Fire Department.

The business was sold in 1959 and was converted into a nightclub and bar, which became infamous in 2001 when Manhattan socialite Lizzie Grubman, angered by a bouncer’s insistence that she move her SUV, backed up the car at high speed into a crowd of partiers waiting to get into the club, sending 16 to the hospital. She later served jail time in connection with the incident.

Southampton Town purchased the property in 2003 using Community Preservation Fund money. Last year, the town was awarded more than $450,000 in federal Superstorm Sandy grant money to renovate the building, which had to be elevated.

Potential future uses for the building, which sits yards away from where the first English settlers of Southampton landed, include a maritime museum, boat-building programs or a headquarters for the local Sea Scouts ship, a maritime-focused Boy Scouts troop. A committee has been formed to explore the possibilities.

“I think it is nice for the community to know the history of this property, because, as Sally pointed out, the more recent history is not so happy,” Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said.

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