Two Landmark Maintenance Awards Given

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Two historic homes within the Town of Southampton were recently granted Landmarks Maintenance Awards through a new program managed by the Landmarks & Historic Districts Board. Upon completion of their proposed maintenance projects, the owners of the Benjamin Foster Homestead in Water Mill and the Foster-Downs House in East Quogue will receive $10,000 each for the cost of materials and labor. Both properties attained town landmark status last year.

The Southampton Landmarks Maintenance Award Program supports projects that contribute to the preservation and long-term sustainability of designated properties. Example projects may include exterior improvements; structural stabilization; window, door and shutter restoration; and the resolution of water-penetration issues. Applicants are required to have Basic or Enhanced School Tax Relief (STAR) status. The work must be completed in a year and verified by a Landmarks & Historic Districts Board member.

The program has been championed by Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, who is preservationist-minded.

“While about 2,000 historic properties have survived within the Town of Southampton, many are threatened by neglect or deferred maintenance. These buildings are part of Southampton’s heritage and identity. While we cannot remedy all of the needs, this program can help protect and preserve important buildings that are owned by concerned people under financial constraints,” she said in a recent release.

The Benjamin Foster Homestead, located at 84 Montauk Highway in Water Mill, was built before 1798 for Mr. Foster, who was born in 1734. He was related to Christopher Foster, the first family member to arrive in Long Island from England in 1635.

The main portion of the Foster Homestead is a 1½-story half-Cape from the Federal style period, which was dominant on the East End from approximately 1780 to 1840. The main entry door has a distinctive transom of four small windows.

The Foster-Downs House, located at 556 Montauk Highway in East Quogue, was built in 1857 for Captain Josiah Foster. The whaling captain was also a descendant of Christopher Foster, who is buried in the adjacent Methodist Church cemetery in the hamlet of East Quogue.

The Foster-Downs House was built in the Greek Revival style, which was popular on the East End from 1825 to 1860. The residence was later fitted with Italianate style embellishments, including decorative brackets under the eaves of the second story and atop the columns of a full-width single-story front porch.

Funding for the Landmarks Maintenance Awards program comes from an Historic Preservation Reserve Fund, which was funded as a community benefit by developers of the Sebonack Golf Club PDD to further historic purposes. According to Sally Spanburgh, the chairperson of the Landmarks & Historic Districts Board, the fund is expected to award $20,000 annually for the next five years. In addition to the maintenance award, local town landmarks are also eligible for a tax abatement program and a preservation easement acquisition, she said.

Homeowners who are interested in submitting an application for a Southampton Town Landmark designation should email Ms. Spanburgh at sspanburgh@southamptontownny.gov or call 283-6000. Applications for the Landmarks Maintenance Award can be found on the Southampton Town website at southamptontownny.gov. Donations to the Landmarks Maintenance Program fund are tax-deductible.

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