Monday, May 28, 2018

SSHH (second in a series): All Buildings great and small

Settled in 1653, Incorporated in 2005 - in self defense.
No, this isn't a post about the massive summer "cottages" here in the Hamptons (although that in itself is always a great tour). It's about a few more of the places to be found on our Selfie Scavenger Hunt of the Hamptons (SSHH) that was the subject of my last blog. SSHH is our tour game highlights some of the cool and interesting places off the beaten path that aren't going to be found on some gossipy click-bait article titled "10 Top Things To See In The Hamptons (That You Can Then Brag About)."

Today we're in and around the greater Bridgehampton area. 

So to begin, here's irony for you: The village that contains the largest house in the Hamptons also features the smallest of schools. Tiny Sagaponack  and its neighboring hamlet Wainscott each boast operational one room schoolhouses.
Sagaponack School dates back to 1776, though its current building, housing 14 students in grades K-4 was built in 1885. Sagg School's earlier structure, constructed in the early 1800s was moved to Wainscott, where it still is in use for its 20 students in grades K-3.

Probably 90% of the school taxes for Sagaponack School (and a substantial portion of those higher grade schools it feeds into) are paid through the property taxes of this behemoth:

Yep, that's one house. The rough unpaved road is intentional.
Sagaponack School's original 500 square feet building is probably the equivalent of one guest bedroom in this 64,000 square foot mansion owned by junk bond billionaire Ira Rennert. Called Fair Field, it is one of the largest private houses in the country and sits on 68 acres of oceanfront property. In addition to the main house, there are several outbuildings, bringing the total of structures on the acreage to over 110,000 square feet.

A huge hue and cry was raised by neighbors when Rennert began building the complex. Though they were unsuccessful at halting the construction, the lawsuits did result in new, stricter restrictions on house size in Southampton Township...and to the incorporation of tiny Sagaponack as a separate village rather than just a "Hamplet" of Southampton Town.

(Perhaps as poetic justice for those appalled locals, a federal appeals court ordered Rennert to pay a $213 million judgment, upholding a lower court decision that found him guilty of looting money from one of his mining companies in order to fund the construction of Fair Field.)

Heading northwest from Sagaponack, past potato farms interspersed with horse properties, polo fields and a golf course, you may happen upon another house on a substantial plot of land that certainly doesn't look like any other house in the Hamptons. Maybe even the world:

This is called the Elliptical House, and yes, it is a residence. The house, barn, and dozens of oversized sculptures sit on the grounds of Novas Ark Project, the creation of the late artist Nova Mihai Popa. Situated on 95 acres and fronting an agricultural preserve, the property (though not the house) is often rented for large events and weddings. Chris and I call it "More Input, Stephanie," because we think it resembles the robot featured in the movie "Short Circuit." Short Circuit Need Input

Finally, as you enjoy the drive on Scuttlehole Road through the middle of the South Fork, keep your eyes peeled for buildings that may not look as though they belong here, but oh, they do:

These are potato barns, and they're purposely designed partway underground because they act as an enormous root cellar, keeping the potatoes naturally cool until they are shipped. Very occasionally you might spot a house that once began as a potato barn and was converted to a private residence. (Extra SSHH points if you do!) To me, potato barns are wonderful iconic structures, and as much part of the Hamptons charm as the villages that draw our visitors. 

So got your cellphone? Ready to explore? Come visit A Butler's Manor, Southampton's best boutique inn, and we'll help you see parts of the Hamptons that most people miss out on!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

SSHH...best kept secrets in the Hamptons!

Respite from too much shopping in East Hampton Village?
We get two main types of leisure (as opposed to business) visitors here at A Butler's Manor: those who live within about a 100 mile radius and return, often year after year, for a few days each summer, and those for whom a visit to the Hamptons checks off a bucket list item. Long ago, for these latter guests Chris and I compiled an itinerary to aid first-timers in maximizing their visit to our area. It remains popular and we go through several hundred copies each year.

We were on our winter sabbatical in California and attending a Jaguar car rally where you were tasked with navigating via landmarks (we won, by the way, yay!), when it occurred to me that it would be fun to go beyond the itinerary and offer folks who were so inclined an opportunity to discover some of the fun and funky corners of the Hamptons that make it special to us. And to do it in a way that created a personal photo album of the trip in the process.

So we created A Butler's Manor Selfie Scavenger Hunt of the Hamptons (hereafter SSHH). The idea is to find as many of the locations as you can, take a picture of yourself at each, hashtag it #abutlersmanor and post it on social media if you desire...but regardless, experience a broader view of the area than just Montauk Highway and our famous beaches.

Chris and Sydney were out and about in East Hampton last week, so Chris took one of our bowlers and stopped by some of the SSHH locations. Here's a small sampling of his trip that I'll title "Who's Who Who Was (or is) Here."

Chris is here!


I wrote about Jackson Pollock and the Pollock/Krasner House a few years back (read it here). Many people know that Jackson Pollock lived--and was killed in an automobile accident--in the Springs in East Hampton, but you may not know that he is buried here too (as is his wife Lee Krasner). Following his death, Green River Cemetery became famous as an artists and writers cemetery--many of the headstones are works of art in themselves.
Sydney at Jackson Pollock's Grave


LongHouse Reserve is a 16-acre sculpture garden founded by textile artist and collector Jack Lenor Larsen. Located in Northwest Woods, there are magnificent lawns and border gardens and a pond, all created with an eye to the display of contemporary sculpture. The Japanese-inspired main house is serene and in harmony with the surrounding gardens. It's open to the public for a small fee on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, or by appointment.
LongHouse Reserve

Lion Gardiner was an English soldier who established the first English settlement in what would become the state of New York. Predating the 1648 founding of East Hampton, Gardiner purchased in 1639 an island off the coast of what is now the Springs and Montauk from the Montaukett Indian tribe. The King of England granted Lion Gardiner a Royal Patent "to possess the land forever," and until the end of the American Revolution, it was not connected with either New York or Connecticut but was an entirely separate and independent "plantation." Nearly 380 years later, Gardiners Island is still owned by his descendants, one of the larger private islands in the USA.
Lion Gardiner's Crypt, with recumbent effigy

So, does this whet your appetite to find some of the lesser-known corners of East Hampton? Come visit A Butler's Manor, our New York Bed and Breakfast, and we'll set you up with the goods!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Early September fun!

As I write this, we're in between threatened thunderstorms (nothing compared to the folks anxiously watching Hurricane Irma's path through the Caribbean), but the weather report shows the skies clearing and we're on tap for a glorious weekend. And that's good because there's a lot on tap over this weekend!

Sag Harbor's Harborfest begins Saturday morning, September 9 and runs through Sunday. Described as the largest block party extending out over the water, Harborfest celebrates Sag Harbor's maritime and especially whaling history and incorporates an arts and crafts fair, games, food, history, and fun for the whole family. 

Further east, Montauk's Seafood Festival also begins on Saturday and runs through the weekend. Featuring local fish and shellfish, local wines and craft beer and live entertainment, it's billed as a great family friendly event.

And, closer to A Butler's Manor, Saturday also is the grand opening of Hank's Pumpkintown, which grows larger and larger each year with more attractions on the farm for the kids. (And for those of us who want to avoid the traffic that this spectacle entails, just ask--we've got a map that will get you around it.)


In spite of the pumpkins, it ain't fall quite yet! At a forecasted 72 degrees this weekend, after checking out the festivals above, the beach is looking mighty appealing...at A Butler's Manor, we've got your beach chair and beach bag ready to go. Book your visit to Southampton's top-rated boutique inn and spend some down time in the Hamptons!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Holding onto history...and losing it

If you've been to our Southampton bed and breakfast before, chances are you've noticed the large meadow-like vacant lot to the north of us, on the other side of our car park. Perhaps we've told you, as part of the history of our house, that the lot, and the house standing on it, was owned by the last direct descendant of the Jagger family, who settled in Southampton in the mid-1600s. Originally tanners, the family eventually became farmers and at one point owned all the property in about a one mile radius of us. The house at 244 North Main that we call A Butler's Manor, built in 1860 by William Jagger, and it's our understanding that the house north of us at 276 North Main was built by his son. It appears on an 1894 Village Survey map that hangs in our upstairs hallway as belonging to J.M. Jagger.

When we moved here, we met and became friends with Glena Jagger, and Chris in particular spent quite a bit of time with her. One of my favorite memories is the time she stayed the night with us. She'd had surgery and the hospital wouldn't let her go home because no one lived with her, so she called us and asked to book a room. She refused to let us comp her, but she did permit us to drive her back up to her doctor in Riverhead the following day for post-op follow up. I thought it appropriate to offer her Goose Creek, our most historical room with its original wooden ceiling. Over breakfast the next morning, she told me that her grandparents had lived in the house until she was in high school. When she was small, she'd had scarlet fever (highly contagious) and her beloved older sister Elizabeth had moved to their grandparent's house for several weeks while Glena was quarantened at home. This had been the first time she had ever stayed a night in our house.
Goose Creek

Glena was a feisty little lady who had a degree in chemistry and had never married, who had been born in the house she lived in and intended to die in it. She had artifacts dating back to the early 1700's including ledgers from her tanner ancestors that documented the trade of goods and services between neighbors, in English pounds sterling that was the currency at the time--all of which was destined for the Southampton Historical Society. Her will stated her desire to divide up the proceeds of her estate between a number of beloved charitable organizations. I don't think she liked it, but did recognize that after her death her property would be sold and likely subdivided. That's just the way it works.

Glena died five years ago, and after a couple of acrimonious court cases (one brought by Chris) and planning board roadblocks, the three+ acre lot is to be subdivided into three one-acre parcels called the Jagger Estates, with a 6,000+/- square foot house to be built upon each. This week, the builder received approval to demolish Glena's house and begin clearing the property for development.

We watched on Wednesday as a house that had likely been many, many months in the building, that had withstood the Great Hurricane of 1938 without the slightest flooding, that had housed a woman from cradle to grave came down under the jaws of a bulldozer's claw in less than three hours.



Was it historical? Not historical enough. Was it architecturally significant? Only as it related to one woman's, and one family's long history in the village of Southampton. Was it worth salvaging? In practical terms, no. Too much remedial work involved even if the layout was desirable.

Still.

So today, as I look out my kitchen window at the blank where once I saw the brown siding of our neighbor's house, I think wistfully of Glena and her long life and rich family history. And wish the use of her family name as a development was more of a tribute to the longevity of that family line. And hope the new houses, when they are built, are in fact traditional in architecture, as proposed.

Though much updated and upgraded to meet the needs of our many guests, the Jagger family house of yesteryear still can be found in the bones of A Butler's Manor. and we take great pride in maintaining it. 

Come experience the melding of the modern and the historical at A Butler's Manor, Southampton's best boutique inn.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Seeing the Hamptons like a local!


At A Butler's Manor, the Fourth of July holiday generally brings out a fairly "local" crowd for us -- meaning most of our guests are from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Most have been to the Hamptons before and are out here to enjoy the beach, shopping, and parties, so chances are they won't be sampling our latest endeavor to help new visitors explore and appreciate "our" Hamptons.

Many years ago, Chris and I developed an itinerary to help new visitors find their way around the villages that comprise the collective "Hamptons."  With today's propensity for cell phones, tablets, and social media, we decided to take it a step further, and make it even more fun. So we created the Selfie Scavenger Hunt of the Hamptons--a tour of the area that takes in some of the iconic sights and adds many more whimsical ones, those little corners of the area that make it special. Know this: There is far more to the Hamptons than the beaches and Montauk Highway! 

The idea behind the Selfie Scavenger Hunt is that you follow the clues, find these locations and take a selfie of yourself there. (Double points for those posted on Instagram or Facebook and hashtagged #abutlersmanor!) Find as many locations as time and interest permit, and you'll return with not only a much greater understanding of this beautiful area, but you'll have an exemplary photo journal to look back on!

A sample of the clues:

  • There are two one-room schoolhouses in the area, both still operational. Find one of them
  • Find the enormous house off Daniel’s Lane that looks like a hotel complex (hint: best seen driving west)
  • Find the historical marker on South Sagg Road with an arachnoid reference
  • Take a pic of the price of lobster salad at Loaves & Fishes Stand and post it to our Facebook page with a comment!
  • Near the corner of Madison and Henry, find a very large sculpture that’s perhaps making strides in the art world
  • Road sign that might indicate a depressing place to live?
  • Find the sign “Wino Way” at Wolffer Estates Vineyard

Here are some of the visuals of the locations on the tour!








Are you intrigued yet? Doesn't that sound like fun? Come join us at A Butler's Manor, Southampton's #1-ranked Bed & Breakfast, and make sure you ask for a copy of the Selfie Scavenger Hunt for a chance to see the Hamptons the way we locals do! 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sprucing up for the season's start!

Noon, Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, and the town is hopping. There's excitement and a touch of panic in the air as everyone does their last minute spit and polish before the Grand Opening of the Summer Season. In some cases, this is literally true, as a couple of our newest merchants in Southampton Village are putting the finishing touches on their summer pop up shops -- Sydney and I passed one merchant who was installing their sign! Our funny weather (overcast but warm) means that clothing on the shoppers runs the gamut between jeans, boots, and scarves to shorts and flip flops. No one knows what the weekend will bring, but everyone's hopeful for some sunshine!

Chris and I have been putting our own spit-shine on A Butler's Manor, with some exciting changes of our own. First: Goose Creek has gotten a makeover...and now features a KING bed! A little creative work with the wardrobe has allowed us to add a little seating area to the room. What do you think?



Secondly: Check out the new layout of our dining room!

And a fun little change: We've updated the nameplates on the doors to reflect bit more of a "butler" feel (think Downton Abbey). When you visit, take a picture in the hat and post it to Instagram and hashtag us! #abutlersmanor #bowlerized

So that's the news as we begin the Summer of 2017! Watch this space for some other changes to come -- or better yet, book now at Southampton's #1-ranked Bed & Breakfast Inn and experience them in person!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Where to find those "Stately Home & Garden" Tours in the Hamptons

It always feels like High Spring when the cherry trees are in bloom.  Chris is busy putting in all sorts of vegetables, while Sydney crashes through the bushes on squirrel patrol.They are both sooooo happy to be out in the garden.

I was talking to our guest Karen today who wondered if there were any houses or gardens that were open to the public, like the mansion tours you find in Newport, RI. (Or the Downton Abbey tours of Highclere Castle in Berkshire, England.) Sadly, that's not a Hamptons thing; all the houses that aren't historical properties are in private hands, and the only time you'll find them open to the public is for a charitable cause.
With one exception! THIS FRIDAY, May 12, is National Public Gardens Day, and therefore, three of the most beautiful public gardens in our area are offering a free one-hour guided tour. The participating gardens are Bridge Gardens (Bridgehampton)--10:30 AM, Madoo Conservancy  (Sagaponack)--1:00 PM, and Long House Reserve (East Hampton)--3:00 PM.

As to those tours for charitable causes, there are a few of them coming up:

Saturday, June 3: The Southampton Historical Museum's "Insider's Tour" of private homes in Southampton's finest neighborhoods runs between 1:00-4:00 PM, followed by a champagne reception at the Museum's Rogers Mansion. Tickets are $95 in advance, $110 on the day of the tour. For info or to purchase tickets, call 631.283.2494 or visit  southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org

Saturday and Sunday, June 10 & 11: Parrish Art Museum's "Landscape Pleasures" weekend kicks off with a Saturday morning symposium, followed by Sunday's self-guided garden tour of East End gardens and properties. Tickets for the two-day event start at $175 and may be purchased by calling 631-283-2118, ext. 133, or visiting parrishart.org

Saturday, June 17: Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF)'s 31st Annual Garden Tour will feature a self-guided tour of 6+ gardens around East Hampton. Tickets are $85 for the tour, or $175 which includes a pre-tour cocktail party on Friday, June 16, at a private residence. Tickets are available by calling 631-537-0400 or visiting arfhamptons.org

Friday, July 7: Join the annual Friends of John Jermain Library house tour of area home in Sag Harbor between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Tickets are $45 in advance, $50 the day of the tour. More info: 631-725-1396.

Friday, July 14: Westhampton Performing Arts Center's annual house and garden tour and luncheon at the Westhampton Beach Country Club from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM features homes in Westhampton, Quogue, and East Quogue. Tickets are $85 (tour only) or $125 (including the luncheon). Call 631-288-2350 for tickets, or visit whbpac.org.

So grab your idea sketchbook and your garden party hat and make your plans now to come visit us at A Butler's Manor, your Southampton, NY Bed and Breakfast. Take a tour and benefit one of our great causes, then return and spend all the time you like in our English garden, without the crowds...we'll have the tea ready for you!