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Made in Southampton: Cornerstones of a Village, 2018

Updated: Feb 7

John and Morgan, our 2018 Summer Interns, spent a lot of their time with us creating this virtual exhibit for our social media accounts that looked into our four properties and various structures. Their posts gave insights into the various buildings we maintain from Southampton’s past. Most of these structures can be visited and enjoyed in person year round. But for those of you far away this is great chance for you to see what we have to offer.


Rogers Mansion

This is the current home to our museum. This Gilded Age mansion was bought by Samuel Parrish in 1899 for $19,000 dollars. When adjusted for inflation, the property at that time was valued at roughly $482,845 dollars. Compared to the 2016 average price of a Southampton home of $480,000, calling the Rogers building a “mansion” seems questionable. Once Parrish acquired the property in 1899, the mansion underwent several renovations. Parrish was a sociable fellow who wished to build a greater sense of community within the village. So he constructed a ballroom in the southern wing of the first floor along with a few more rooms along the Northern and Southern wings. The dwelling sure has the look of a mansion, from its detailed Victorian style décor, to its neatly arranged Greek-revival architecture. Do you think Rogers Mansion lives up to its name? Come find out how life as a Southampton resident evolved from the colonial period to today!

Fordham and Elliston Paint Shop

The paint shop that was built in the 1880’s has been used for a series of things. It was the Dunewell’s Paint shop and later a tavern called John’s Hen’s Place. It is now a replica of the Fordham and Elliston Paint Shop that was in businesses for years on Jobs Lane only one block from the Rogers Mansion. Elliston started in the paint business when he was only 15 years old. He started working for Edward Bishop who was a painting contractor for an already established business. He and Bishop teamed up with young artist Eli Fordham to open up their own paint shop. The name was originally “Bishop, Fordham, & Elliston”, however, in the 1920’s Bishop decided to retire and from then on the shop would be called Fordham and Elliston Paint Shop.

The Dry Color Bins

The 19th century was the change the way paint was made in America. People were discovering more pastel natural colors like the combination of Zinc and oxide to create a new kind of white. However, in the bins you see in the picture is where they stored the powder that they would mix in order to make paint. Most of these dyes came from plant sources like roots, berries, bark, leaves, and wood. As the 19th century began to end and the 20th century was beginning these natural dyes would soon be replaced by the cheaper synthetic dyes.

Glass Cutting Table

This 30” by 48” glass-cutting table was a one-man job that is still in use today. For the glass industry the 19th century was an important changing time for the purpose of glass. Glass became less used to show wealth in dishware and more used for everyday purposes like we see today. The industrial change has great importance for this table as it was probably used frequently in the 1800s, today however they have machines for that.

Corn Crib

Once located on the Rose de Rose Estate on Hill Street just three blocks from Rogers Mansion, this late 19th century granary was used to store and preserve corn. The open slat siding and angled walls allowed for easier air ventilation, which dried the crops and prevented mold from growing on the corn stored inside. Most of the corn was, in fact, used as animal food. It was erected on stilts with a retractable stair to keep rodents away. Come by to catch some shade and escape the summer heat.

Boys and Girls outhouses

Can you tell the difference between the boys and girls outhouses? Well in the 19th century you would have to know without the labels on the door. Then people would tell the differences between the two from the way the sidewalls were built or the trimming along the roof. Another way you can tell the difference is by the “urinal” in the boy’s outhouse. Unlike the girls outhouse where both toilets are elevated the boys have one lower to the ground which would have been considered the urinal. Come by the museum today and see if you can spot the difference between the two outhouses.


Come see our one room schoolhouse that was built c. 1830 and was an originally from the Red Creek area in Hampton Bays. It is said to be one of the oldest schoolhouses in the New York state. Back then parents sent their kids to school so they would learn to read, sign their name, learn how to keep records and pay taxes for when they take over their parent’s farm or business. The schoolroom would hold kids from ages six to eighteen and what grade you would be in would be determined by your ability not your age. There were so many kids in the class, how would the one teacher be able to handle all the kids? Well the elder kids would help teach the younger grades, giving the teacher a break.

Nugent Carriage House

The exterior of the carriage house has since been redone and is now painted white

Dr. John Nugent purchased the Rogers Mansion in 1889 and built the carriage house shortly after. Seeking to adjust the property to changing times, Dr. Nugent replaced what was once a barn with this Queen Anne style carriage house. These changes began the process of moving away from the Mansion’s old Colonial, agricultural style into something more contemporary. The Queen Anne style was one of the more popular architectural movements at the time as well. It was finished with two dormer windows facing south to create two bedrooms.

Carriage House Historic Use

The Carriage House was the original version of a garage. It was primarily used to store horse-pulled carriages and house servants. It also used to have a two-story tower which would have contained extra water and grain. You can tell that it is a carriage house from its large hinged front doors and few windows. Some larger carriage houses would leave large openings on the second floor which allowed owners to lift and store carriages upstairs during the off-seasons.

Today’s Use

Our Carriage House remains as a useful place to store a variety of items. Today, the building is used to store our valuable antiques for upcoming fairs, as well as other important artifacts.

As of 2020 it is the home to our Carriage House Thrift Shop which is open every Saturday 11am to 5pm and Sundays 12pm to 4pm until October 11.

Carpenter’s Shop

This building was originally located behind Hildreth’s Department Store on Main Street. From the time settlers first made landfall on Southampton shores, carpentry was the most essential line of work. Wood was the primary material used to make houses, shops and docks. In this sense, the carpenter shop became the cornerstone of the village. While building technology continued to improve, carpenters remained key contributors to the village. This practice was always one of the most respected and necessary jobs.

Development of Nails

After the Industrial Revolution, tools became more sturdy and reliable, which streamlined construction. Metal square head nails were introduced during the early 19th century. Originally, small nails were entirely shaped, cut and forged together by hand. Wooden pegs were soon replaced by metal square-head nails, and hand-powered augers drilled more precise holes. New machinery made nail manufacturing faster by attaching the square head to the nail shaft. Square head nails did not necessarily improve the sturdiness of buildings, but they were easier to produce in bulk.


Manual augers have been used for thousands of years, yet they still pose certain advantages over electric powered drills today. When used correctly, hand augers can offer more precise, delicate bore holes. Augers varied greatly in size depending on the size of the project. Small augers were used to insert smaller nails for furniture, whereas large augers were more appropriate for constructing houses or ships. You can see these antique tools along with others next to the Rogers Mansion.

Blacksmiths Shop

Once a horse stable back in 1790 and now a set up as a blacksmith shop donated by Buddy Burentt whose family once had a blacksmith shop in Water Mill. Blacksmithing now and then are very different careers. For example back then you would work with metals like iron and steel whereas today you would use stronger metals like aluminum. It can even be argued that back then you had to be much more skilled because unlike today there weren’t machines to do most of the work.

The Bellows

Our intern John working the bellows

This instrument was known as the bellows, or as it was known in Old English, the blast bag. The bellows were used to supply continuous airflow into the blacksmith’s furnace. Blacksmiths needed to maintain a certain level of heat combustion to properly make iron and metal products. They would press down on the long wooden handle (located above the leather bag) which sent pressurized air into the fireplace, keeping the fire hot enough for iron smelting. The leather bag resembles an accordion shape, which made it flexible to open and close.

Hildreth’s General Store

Recognize the name on this store? You’ve probably seen the Hildreth General store still today on Main Street in Southampton. This building is from 1893 and is a recreation of the original Hildreth’s General Store. Keep an eye out for posts that talk about what you would have maybe found in the Hildreth’s General store years before.

Tooth Powder

So what is tooth powder? This 19th century toothpaste is similar to what we use today, only in powder form. However, the ingredients in those would be different from what we use today. The main ingredients in tooth powder then included: chalk, magnesium carbonate, cuttlefish bone, antiseptics, detergents, bayberry leaves, myrrh, cloves, or peppermint. Recognize any of these ingredients in your toothpaste at home?


How would you listen to music if there was no such thing as Spotify or iTunes? Well in the 19th and 20th century you would be turning on a phonograph. In the early 1900s Thomas Edison was out to create a better way to play your music. The result his work is the phonograph like the one pictured above; these new cylinders were created with a chemical mixture that allowed for a better sound and a more durable use. The sound was so impressive that people often referred to these as “recreations” of sound not just a recording. His new phonograph also became more available to people living at home, which is why you would find it in the general store museum today!

Bayman’s Decoy Shed

Most of Southampton’s early residents depended on the bays and oceans, which were bountiful in delicious shellfish and other marine life. Many men turned to clamraking, a technique in which they would brush the seafloor with large metal rakes. These rakes varied greatly in size and shape, depending on where clamrakers would do their work. The only constant was that these rakes needed large iron teeth in order to grind through mud and other coarse bottom surfaces. Due to the unpredictable nature of the sea, clamrakers often needed many different tools so they were ready for any situation.

Decoy Background

Local baymen generally found a sense of peace in the great outdoors. When the shellfish harvest season ended in autumn, clamrakers turned their attention to hunting fowl. These decoys were used to deceive ducks into thinking that they were fellow waterfowl. As hunting gained more widespread popularity, wealthier individuals with little background in woodworking became interested in using these lures. This dramatically increased the demand and value of these decoys. What was once a mere hobby quickly turned into a commercial venture for seasonal baymen. Do you think you would mistake these decoys for actual ducks? Come find out!

Decoy Making

The design method of decoys drastically improved over time. Settlers were introduced to using trickery by Native Americans, who would use silhouettes to draw ducks closer. At first, decoys were simply two-dimensional, duck-shaped signs that lacked any fine details. Once the practice became more sophisticated, shapers started to carve replicas using many different tools such as hammers, scraper blades and hand planers. Decoy makers began with large chunks of wood and eventually carved them into simple shapes. Early decoys were usually the body and head of the ducks pasted or screwed together. Our current building for the decoy shop dates to 1890. At that time, it was originally used as a corn crib in Water Mill. This exhibit opened in 2008.

Sayre Barn

The Sayre that was built c 1825 by the Sayre family has a unique history. It was once a barn that held animals however, because of its old location at the intersection of Old Post Road between Montauk to Brooklyn it turned into a bulletin board for the town for over 200 years. In the 19th century a bulletin boards were used much like today: they were used to post public notices of ads for sale or wanted, or to announce events and provide information. They were a fairly new concept in the 1800s and today we see them on every highway we drive on!

The Thomas Halsey Homestead

Maybe when you’re driving down South Main Street towards the beach and you have seen the Halsey house and wondered what’s it all about? Thomas Halsey owned the property, a founder of Southampton in 1640, had his barn here and owned the land. The house we see today is the original house that was built by Thomas Halsey Jr in 1680 and yes it still has original flooring, furnishing, textiles, and other objects.

The Thomas Halsey Homestead Garden

When you visit the Thomas Halsey Homestead and venture into the backyard you’ll see a beautiful garden growing. This garden is a replica of what plants were growing in the 18th century when the Halsey’s still lived there. You can find chives that were often used as an onion supplement. Maybe you would find sage that was used to treat stomach aches, digestive pains, and even loss of appetite. Or even basil and lavender that was placed in a lot of multi-surface cleaners to give them a good scent. Come by and see the garden and see if you can find any other plants that would be helpful today.

Kitchen in the 18th century

The kitchen that is now at the Halsey House probably looks much different than what you’re used to, but there’s not that many differences at all. During the 18th and 19th century the kitchen saw a lot of influences from the French with dishes that required depth and formal table settings, much like food in our kitchens today. Come by and see if you can spot the similarities between the Halsey kitchen and your own, hint they have a waffle makers! However similar the kitchens are there some differences. Come by the Halsey House to see if you can spot the waffle iron.

Dominy Table

This table in the Halsey House may look like a regular old table but its significance is in the family who made it. This table is a Dominy table. The Dominy family was famous for their works in furniture and clocks throughout Long Island. The Dominy family settled in East Hampton in 1669 and the father son duo began their hand in the clock business by fixing and making clocks. They were so popular that they began to make other pieces of wooden furniture. The most popular order they would get would be for chairs and tables. The family business became so successful that between 1760 and 1840 they made 936 pieces of furniture. Unfortunately they had to move on from the business because of the creation of the steam-powered factories. Come see the table for yourself and marvel at the beauty of the hand made craftsmanship.

Pelletreau Silver Shop

The Pelletreau Silver Shop opened in 1686, making it the oldest running trade shop in the Americas. The property was purchased in 1717 by Francis Pelletreau, a whaling merchant. It did not become a silver shop until 1750, when his grandson Elias took over. His specialties included tankards, flatware, porringers, teapots, even rattles, along with other highly artistic items. Stop by to learn more about this brave patriot and his famous silver creations. The silver shop is located right on Main Street in Southampton.

Elias Pelletreau

Elias Pelletreau was a passionate patriot. He created and led a local militia during the Revolutionary War, often drilling his forces. After the British takeover of Long Island, Pelletreau refused to live under British rule, so he fled to Connecticut. Elias became so successful as a silversmith, that he helped to finance William Floyd’s trip to Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence. Arguably the most famous silversmith in Long Island history, Pelletreau has crafted items that have reached thousands of dollars in value. Many works are displayed in museums across the country.


Silverworks remain an important way of crafting jewelry and kitchenware. Many of the techniques used during the Colonial period are still practiced today. In fact, silver jewelry is still made in the Pelletreau Silver Shop thanks to Mr. Eric Messin. You can visit the silver shop and receive a tour from Mr. Messin from 11 am to 4 pm, Tuesday to Saturday on Main Street in Southampton.

Conscience Point

in 1640, Southampton’s original settlers arrived at North Sea Harbor around this location. Once they came ashore, a woman pioneer supposedly made the remark, “For conscience sake, we’re on dry land,” which thus became the inspiration for the landmark’s name. Years after the English began colonizing the east end, an important whaling community called Feversham was established and soon became one of the largest ports in the colonies. However, it began to disappear about a century later once Sag Harbor started to develop as the premier whaling port of the East End. What remains is a 20-ton boulder commemorating the historic arrival of Southampton’s first English settlers. This monument is accompanied by a nature trail bordering the idyllic Peconic Bay coastline. Come visit to view the town’s rich variety of shore plants and diverse wildlife.



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