Houses From an ‘Insider’s View’

A taste of Southampton living this weekend

    Those who might be tired of the same old East Hampton houses can have a taste of Southampton living this weekend with the Insider’s View of Southampton Homes tour offered by the Southampton Historical Museum on Saturday from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
    According to the tour organizers, including Tom Edmonds, the director of the museum, and Melody Tierney, a committee member, they often vet 15 to 20 houses to arrive at the 6 in the tour. They look for important structures as well as restorations that are special or creative and that honor the building’s history. Modern buildings with graceful or interesting designs are also considered.
    “It doesn’t have to be historic,” Ms. Tierney said. Still, the museum likes to encourage historic preservation whenever possible.
    Included on the tour is Five Chimneys, a house on Hill Street with a decidedly East Hampton feel, a good transition into the alien terrain. The house had its start in 1795 as a one-room farmhouse with a dirt-floor kitchen and fireplace in the basement. It was built by E.T. Howell, a descendant of one of the founding families of Southampton. The house was part of a large farm north of Hill Street. The farm’s outbuildings are now additional private residences.
    The house was expanded and updated to a Greek Revival style around 1820 to 1840. Then, Aymar Embury, who designed Guild Hall and the East Hampton Library, expanded it again in 1911 for Marshall Fry, an artist and ceramicist who taught at William Merritt Chase’s Shinnecock Summer School of Art. He called the house Wayside.
    Among the interior changes Embury initiated to agree with a model of country living he was developing at the time were removing the center hall staircase and paneling the entrance hall, dining room, and living room to tie all three rooms together. Four staff rooms downstairs are now two bedrooms. A detached “summer kitchen” was built and connected to the main house through a breezeway. This area is now the great room.
    In later years, the house served as the summer residence of Al Smith, who was the governor of New York at the time. It was also owned by Southampton College at one point and served as the college president’s house. The current owners have had the house since 1987 and have undertaken several preservation projects in that time. They continue to call it Five Chimneys.
    Other stops on the tour include a house on Mill Pond with post-and-beam construction of its original core and a later 19th-century addition with wide plank floors, carved moldings, and many fireplaces. Elsewhere, a beachfront residence constructed in about 1910 has been in several films, desired for its classic shingled look as well as its amenities.
    An 1807 house can boast of visitors such as Daniel Webster and James Fennimore Cooper. Before it was moved to its current location it served as the post office for a time on Main Street as well as an inn and tavern. A later house designed by Jaquelin T. Robertson, an architect with a house in East Hampton, provides an education on color with an unusual exterior paint choice and lively uses of color inside.
    The tour concludes with a champagne reception and preview of Chris Murray’s show “Paintings of New York.” Tickets cost $75 in advance through the museum Web site,, or $90 on the day of the tour at the Thomas Halsey Homestead from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.