Deep Dive: Exploring the Exhibits
Updated: Jan 14
The Two Pelletreau Houses
There have been two well-known Pelletreau houses in Southampton. The first Pelletreau house, located on Main Street, was purchased by Francis Pelletreau in 1728. It was here that Francis’ son, Captain Elias Pelletreau, established his silversmith shop.
A second Pelletreau house, owned by Captain Elias’ son John, was located on North Main Street. John acquired the house through his marriage to Mary Smith in 1785. The house was eventually passed on to John’s grandson, William Smith Pelletreau (the renowned Southampton Town historian born 1840). In early March 1916, the 75 year-old William decided to sell the property to L. Frank Jennings, owner of an adjacent property. At the time, Jennings, an undertaker and stone mason, was also serving as a Police Justice for Southampton Village. Jennings bought the property with the intention of developing building lots. For development to occur, Jennings needed to clear the property and build a new road connecting to North Main Street.
After purchasing the property, Jennings offered to sell-off the house but, on the night of Friday March 10, 1916, the house caught fire. Fortunately, the fire was discovered by renters occupying the house, who extinguished the blaze with a pail of water. Contemporary news accounts suspected arsonists, when rugs and carpets were discovered to be saturated with kerosene. A few nights later, on Monday March 20, the house caught fire again and this time the house was totally destroyed. Again, arson was suspected. Thankfully, no one was injured, but the contents of the house, described as museum quality, were also destroyed. Jennings did not wait long to put his development plans into action and by August the new road, Jennings Avenue, was built and building lots were marketed for sale. The suspicious origins of the fire were apparently never investigated.