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INTERVIEW: Averitt Buttry On "An Outsider's View" - A Tour Of Southampton Gardens Held In Support Of Southampton History Museum

Gabrielle Topping

Camp at Cedar Crest. (Photo: Averitt Buttry)

For the last ten years, the Southampton History Museum has hosted "An Insider's View" of architecturally and historically significant homes in the Village of Southampton and North Sea. Due to COVID-19, this year the Museum benefit will be "An Outsider's View" — a tour of Southampton's beautiful gardens and landscape settings.

"An Outsider's View" will be held on Saturday, September 12 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a Champagne Reception from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Port of Missing Men. The event is hosted by Sant Ambroeus Restaurant and all proceeds benefit the Southampton History Museum's education programs.

There are five formal gardens with clipped hedges, detailed gates and waterfront cottage gardens with blooming flowers and native flora. Each setting provides a unique study of the relationship between the landscape and the home's architecture and history.

The 2020 tour will feature the Taft Compound, Captain Daniel Halsey House, The Orchard, Camp at Cedar Crest and Port of Missing Men.

The Taft Compound made a splash back in June 1897 when the Southampton Press reported that Mrs. A.E. Fordham would move into her "pleasant new home on Hill Street" soon. Then in the 1970s, when the current owners purchased the house and cleared the overgrown property, they were delighted to discover Mr. Fordham's barn behind a thicket of brush and trees. The barn has been completely renovated while preserving and enhancing the historic property surrounding the Queen Anne style home. Over the next decade, they planted a large weeping beech along the front driveway and, an enormous copper beech from Virginia. Adding to the unique character of the property are some one-of-a-kind features that the owners themselves designed and built, like the Palladian-style gates and fencing. Currenty, the property consists of three separate residences, which all share a common lawn and hedge that further highlights the grand scale of the space and its long vistas.

The Captain Daniel Halsey house was built in 1742 as both a farmhouse and part-time inn on Old Montauk Highway, where Halsey's wife could take in lodgers to pay the bills during his long sojourns at sea. The house has unmistakable, center-chimney colonial architecture and prominent street presence. The property served as the first retail nursery and garden design store on the South Fork. The current owners purchased the house in 1998 and the renovation preserved many elements, including the twelve-over-twelve windows and many of their original panes.

First-time visitors to "The Orchard" are often astonished by beauty of the property, which is tucked behind chic gates and hedgerow that completely encompass the grounds. The classic Shingle-Style home, situated on three lush acres, is complimented by a pool, poolhouse, and gazebo, plethora of hydrangeas, seven transplanted hornbeams and eight crepe myrtles, and 32 apple trees.

Camp at Cedar Crest, a summer "camp" on the bay, has been a rustic retreat— a place where local families could escape the summer hubbub of a world-class resort and find pleasure in fishing, clamming, picnicking and relaxing. It was originally a "kit house," which was displayed in the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. Following the fair, it was relocated its current location. The property's emphasis is on the outdoors, and more specifically on the waterfront where the view at sunset is breathtaking. The owners have allowed the landscape to evolve over time, taking inspiration from the gardens they have owned and others they have admired.

The Chapel at Port of Missing Men. (Photo: Averitt Buttry)

Situated in the Cow Neck section of North Sea, Port of Missing Men offers exquisite views of Scallop Pond. The abode served as the vacation retreat of Standard Oil heir Colonel Henry Huddleston Rogers Jr., who commissioned architect John Russell Pope to construct the site around his hobbies, which included hunting and partying. Port of Missing Men features several structures, including a chapel with striped doors. Its outdoor oasis, which boasts a salt marsh cordgrass, sea lavender and glasswort, attracts great blue herons, great egrets, black ducks, ospreys and other water birds.

I spoke to Averitt Buttry, the Southampton History Museum committee co-chair, about the inspiration behind the "Insider's View" and how the gardens were selected.

What inspired "An Outsider's View" after 10 years of hosting "An Insider's View"?

AB: Back in the late spring we realized that we wouldn't have access to any of the homes we'd lined up for this year's "Insider's View" tour by May. Both because homeowners didn't want anyone entering their homes and visitors wouldn't want to enter another home. This was at the height of the lockdown and fear about the virus. We obviously thought about canceling the whole tour, but we then realized that there are many properties in the area that have remarkably interesting architectural features, untold stories about their construction and style, and beautiful garden settings. It's an interesting study about the interplay between architecture, setting, and landscaping. And while most gardens are obviously not at height in September, our focus is on both the home and the garden as a collective whole.

Post-COVID-19, will the "Outsider's View" benefit continue in addition to the "Insider's View"?

AB: We'll see. In the past, many homeowners on the "Insider's View" tour have opened up their gardens as part of the home's interior tour, but it was never a focus. The excitement about this year's "Outsider's View" may encourage us to think outside the box again and let the tour continue to evolve.

How were these specific houses selected for a tour of Southampton's gardens?

AB: The houses on the tour range in style from a grand Queen Anne Victorian to a "kit house" that was featured at a World's Fair to a Gilded Age Estate. It's a fun and eclectic mix of styles and forms that are all visually interesting to study from the outside, and all of them have gardens that complement those styles. In securing the homes and learning more about each one, I was surprised about the bits of architectural history and information I learned, and I hope the tour visitors will have a similar experience.

Tickets are $150 in advance and $175 day of the event. Tickets may be picked up or purchased on the day of the tour, as early as 10:30 a.m. at the Thomas Halsey Homestead located at 249 South Main Street in Southampton.

To purchase tickets, call 631-283-2494 or visit www.southamptonhistory.org.

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