Change Is Afoot at Springs General

Rent hike forcing storekeeper out

The future of the Springs General Store is unclear, but one thing is likely: After May of next year, Kristi Hood, who has been running the store for years, will not be there.

Due to a looming rent increase, Ms. Hood will be leaving the store, and her apartment above it, when her current lease expires, she confirmed recently.

Although Mike and Jan Collins, the Springs couple that own the property, have been “very, very kind,” and worked with her to adjust their financial arrangements, giving Ms. Hood some extra time, the economics will no longer work, Ms. Hood said, and she is “working on the premise” that her time at the store will soon be up.

With the costs associated, “it’s not realistic as a year-round business,” she said. “It’s been wonderful for me. . . . It’s allowed me to be part of the community even though I’m not from here. It’s been fun making the store what I thought it should be. It’s become a beautiful place.”

The property is a gathering spot for both year-round residents and summer visitors. It maintains the feel of its historical place in the community, with the interior little changed and the porch a place to sit and chat, or on Sunday afternoons listen to informal music jams.

It was built in 1844 in the Greek Revival style, with stone and shingles transported by Phineus Edwards from Connecticut. David Dimon Parsons owned the store, and lived there. It housed a post office from 1849 to 1925.

During the Civil War, it was reportedly the place to go to get the news, and when Dan Miller owned the store for several decades beginning in the 1940s, the Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock used to stop in, once exchanging one of his paintings for groceries. The piece now hangs at a museum in Paris.

Overlooking Accabonac Creek and Pussy’s Pond across the street, the property is in the Springs Historic District. Its exterior is thus protected from significant change, but its interior, which maintains the layout and feel of the old-time store, is not.

East Hampton Town’s community preservation fund committee, which makes recommendations to the town board on what could be done using a real estate tax dedicated to open space and historic preservation, has reportedly beendiscussing the general store property.

One thing that could take place, said Robert Hefner, a historic consultant for the town, is the purchase of an easement that would protect not only the building’s exterior but its inside. The town has used that technique to protect several other historic structures, he said.

Ms. Collins said last week that the future use of the property is “undecided,” now that Ms. Hood is set to leave. “But it will stay a general store,” she said, referring further questions to her husband. The couple has an adult son, and hope the site, which was previously owned by other members of Mr. Collins’s family, will continue to provide income for him. Mr. Collins did not return a call for comment.