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Jul 15, 2015 9:50 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Quogue Steering Committee Updates Proposed Historic District Map

Jul 15, 2015 12:45 PM

A group that has been pushing for the creation of a historic district in Quogue, a symbolic designation that would do little to prevent the altering or demolition of older homes, has tweaked its plan and is now looking to establish a single, larger boundary.

Members of the Steering Committee for Preservation in Quogue, which includes members of the village’s Historical Society and other interested parties, recently submitted a revised map to the State Historic Preservation Office. Unlike its original map, which proposed the creation of two districts that would include more than 200 buildings, the committee’s revised submission seeks the creation of a single historic district that would encompass more than 250 buildings, the majority of them off Quogue Street, Jessup Avenue and most of the secondary roads that connect with them.

The newest additions include the Quogue Field Club, the eastern side of Lamb Avenue and the Quogue Cemetery, which is already on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chester Murray, co-chairman of the Quogue Historic Society and a member of the steering committee, said Lamb Avenue was added after a closer review of the map showed that most of the houses on that particular stretch of road are historical. The cemetery, also on Lamb Avenue, was added at that point since it is already on the national registry.

Mr. Murray also noted that the Quogue Field Club was added to the proposed historic district because the golf course was constructed in 1901 by Tom Bendelow, an architect credited with constructing more than 600 golf courses over 35 years in the early 1900s.

The steering committee had originally proposed creating two separate, unconnected historic districts. Members later changed their minds, opting to create a single, larger district, upon further review. The updated map was then shared with Jennifer Betsworth, the lead historic preservation specialist with the State Office of Historic Preservation who has been working with the committee, according to Mr. Murray. She also made some minor tweaks to the design, he added.

If the revised map is ultimately approved by the state, a large swath of Quogue that sits south of Montauk Highway will be added to the State Register of Historic Places. After that, the state will forward the proposal to Washington, D.C., to see if the district could be added to the National Register of Historic Places.

To become a historic district, an area must contain a high number of historical houses or other structures, explained Southampton Town Historian Zach Studenroth, who has assisted steering committee members in the ongoing process. The National Register defines a historical house as older than 50 years, though Mr. Studenroth noted that there is a “gray area,” explaining that in order to be deemed historic, a house can also feature unique architectural designs or have had notable residents or visitors.

“From our standpoint, we wanted people to know that they have a historic home,” Mr. Murray said. “And by that awareness, it might make them think twice about demolishing the house, or changing things that make it historical.”

If a historic district is eventually created in Quogue, it will be a toothless designation, meaning village officials would not be able to prohibit homeowners from making modifications or even demolishing their homes. Prior attempts to limit the rights of property owners in the village have come up short.

Other historical districts, including those in Sag Harbor and Southampton villages, mandate that property owners preserve the integrity of their structures.

“It’s more of an honorary thing,” Mr. Studenroth said, referring to the Quogue designation.

Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius, who sits on the steering committee, said he and his fellow trustees decided early on that they would not implement codes restricting how residents can remodel their homes if the historic district is ultimately created.

“We’re against any type of mandates on homeowners,” the mayor said. “We haven’t had situations where people knocked down an older house and built something out of character. That’s part of why people want to live in Quogue.”

Heritage areas, designated sections of the town that contain homes and structures of historical significance, already dot the municipality. As with what is proposed for Quogue, heritage areas place no restrictions or covenants on property owners when it comes to possible building modifications. In fact, the section of Quogue between Beach Lane and Quogue Street is already labeled a heritage area.

Those involved in the Quogue process think more people would be willing to maintain the character of their homes if they know they live within a historic district.

“Now … when people buy contributing homes, they will respect the history,” said Donna Sessa, a former director of the Quogue Historical Society and a member of the steering committee.

Ms. Sessa, whose house was built in the 1700s, said she has taken steps on her own to preserve the character of her home since she moved in back in 2001.

“Anyone can tear down their house if they want to, but it’s a recognition and I think many people will embrace the history,” Ms. Sessa said of the effort to create a historic district in Quogue.

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I happen live in Quogue in a 100 year plus home that meets what is being described as a requirement to be designated as a Historic Homestead , many famous americans have summered in my home and more over that 100 years. Even though the designation is strictly a notable designation it should be honorable to the application it seeks. The South of the Highway is only a designation in our small Town , Many homes including mine ARE NOT included in this application, Even though its symbolic it also represents ...more
By 1percent (52), Quogue on Jul 17, 15 8:11 PM
What a great idea. The south-of-Montauk (and, more definitively, south-of-Quogue St.) homes in Quogue are the most beautiful in the Hamptons. One, in particular, is my favorite private residence in all of the East End (even though, some forty years ago, it was bastardized with a garage addition that only pays minimal homage to the half-timbered Tudor beauty of its original conception.)

It says so much of the class of the residents that they would merely seek to designate the area as an ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jul 17, 15 8:55 PM
Is there really any, but a few of any un remodeled or torn down homes on South of the Hwy in Quogue. And a Country Club ? Its Historic HOW .? Its Builder ? Please did they take away the key for not including them on your Application ?
By 1percent (52), Quogue on Jul 18, 15 7:44 PM