Flanders Home May Be Tapped As Town Landmark

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Built around 1895 and tucked away on Huntington Lane in Flanders, the Thomas E. Dunbar home is on track to be added to the list of Southampton Town Landmarks late this month.

The Queen Anne-style house still has its original molding, window frames and stained-glass windows. The wraparound porch gives those visiting a beautiful view of Reeves Bay, as does a second-story balcony off the master bedroom.

Rose Nigro, who bought the house in 1997, said she has always been aware of its history and would like to see it designated a town landmark, which can mean both financial incentives and restrictions on what changes can be made to the exterior. The gabled house was built by Flanders native Arthur Havens, who had a good reputation and built many homes during his career, according to the town’s Board of Historic Landmarks and Preservation.

“When I first looked at it and found out it survived the hurricane in the ’30s, I knew it was a strong house,” Ms. Nigro said. The original barn, once used as a carriage house, still stands on the southeast corner of the property; Ms. Nigro said she hopes to one day convert it into an art studio.

Thomas Dunbar was the home’s original owner—an actor who used it as a summer retreat after paying $10 “and other considerations” for 14 acres on which to have it built, according to a report by the landmarks board. A trunk that came with the house still contains souvenirs from his time in stage revivals at Herald Square Theatre and elsewhere.

The Dunbar home passed to Alice Dunbar Huntington, Thomas’s daughter, after his death and that of his wife, Louisa. Ms. Huntington had been married to Dwight Huntington Jr., relative of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and son of “a highly accomplished lawyer, politician, sportsman, author, editor, artist and wildlife conservationist,” according to the landmarks board. She taught school in Riverhead, and lived in the home until she was in her 90s. She died at age 100.

Alice Huntington sold the house in 1971, and Ms. Nigro bought it from the second of two subsequent owners.

When she was renovating the house in the early 2000s, a portion of the second floor caught fire. Ms. Nigro laughed recently as she remembered that a few days afterward, a visitor told her that her home had been included in the Flanders Hamlet Heritage Area Report, which explores the idea of creating a historic district in Flanders.

“I told her she was a few days late,” Ms. Nigro said, but explained that the renovations in fact were being undertaken in the spirit of the original structure.

Shortly after the fire, Ms. Nigro also found kickknacks hidden in the floorboards. Among them were a tin from the 1913 World’s Fair, a photo of the Sag Harbor Elementary School and buttons supporting Theodore Roosevelt’s bid for president. She also found an account book labeled “T.J. Dunbar”—the home’s first owner.

The landmarks board has determined that the home is eligible for landmark designation because of its historic and architectural value, and because it represents an established and familiar visual feature of the neighborhood. A final hearing before the Southampton Town Board is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall—after which the Town Board will either accept or deny the application to add it to the list of town-designated landmarks.

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