Since August 2011, the site of the Bull’s Head Inn at the northeast corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton has been undergoing a transformation, soon to emerge as a new hotel and restaurant in a restored Greek Revival renamed the Topping Rose Inn.
During the planning and research process, some of the history of the site that was forgotten over the years was unearthed, according to Robert Strada, of Amagansett, a consultant working with the owners and construction managers on the historic documentation of the inn and accessory buildings.
Strada said he became involved last year, when he worked to rescue the John Hulbert warehouse — one of the accessory buildings.
“Hulbert owned the property before Judge Abraham Topping Rose built what is now that 1852 Greek Revival building on the site,” Strada said, adding that it was discovered that Topping Rose’s house was built on the foundation of Hulbert’s early 18th century home.
Strada said an earlier environmental review had missed the fact that the warehouse dated to 1730.
Sally Spanburgh, the chair of the Southampton Town Landmarks and Historic Districts Board, said the warehouse had been converted into a Queen Anne-style caretaker's house in the late 1800s. "That’s how we all missed it," she said. "It no longer looked like its old self."
Hulbert’s warehouse was still standing until last year. Strada said it had been scheduled for demolition, but was instead taken apart piece by piece and preserved for later reconstruction.
“The warehouse remains deconstructed and is in the possession of the town of Southampton,” Strada said. “So it has been saved essentially.”
The site also includes a former horse barn that was turned into a carriage house, Spanburgh said.
As for the inn itself, Strada said great lengths have been gone through to preserve its historic character
“There was a 20th century extension on the back of that building, and that’s what they demolished and reconstructed recently, these past nine months, to accommodate their plan for an inn and a restaurant,” he said.
“The new owners and their constriction managers have really been committed to restoring the building and keeping as much of the original historic fabric,” he added. “Kudos to them for doing the right thing.”
John Eilertsen, the executive director of the Bridgehampton Historical Society, said the society is supportive of someone trying to maintain the historic integrity of local structures while refashioning them for a contemporary use.
Spanburgh said it is wonderful that the Topping Rose house will be restored and have a "renewed vitality."
Simultaneously, Southampton Town and the are refurbishing the historic across Montauk Highway from the future Topping Rose Inn, and a third Greek Revival building is being built from the ground up at the same intersection.
Strada noted that the three projects are unrelated, though the ultimate result will be three beautiful buildings at the same spot harkening back to another era of Bridgehampton history.
"It’s going to be a pretty fancy corner by the time we’re all down with it," Eilertsen quipped. He said there is still $2 million of work left to restore the exterior of the Nathaniel Rogers House and the project is moving at the pace of fundraising.
Learn the Bull's Head Inn history at 27east.com. (Subscription required.)