Today as we zoom along County Road 39 on our way east or west along the South Fork, we tend to be ignorant of the history of the area.
That can’t be helped, understandably, as we are all caught up in the day ahead of or behind us, totally undistracted by the view, more or less.
But there are a few structures that I can’t ever help but notice: a barn near Magee Street, and another near the end of County Road 39, on the west side, before turning onto Montauk Highway at the major intersection near the Princess Diner. As recently as 1980 those structures were associated with farming and were built for such purposes a long time ago. Now they sit, encompassed by development, the farmland long since sold and developed, yet reminding the few who notice them of the agricultural origins of Southampton.
The first barn I mentioned is commonly referred to as the Rosko Barn, at 512 County Road 39. It is gorgeous. It is a huge former potato barn embedded in the earth on its north side and open to its acreage on the south. It has seemed more or less abandoned for awhile and has fallen into a bit of disrepair, which can be seen by the lopsided vents that line the roof, or the broken window panes, but it is still strikingly gorgeous.
Christopher Mead is the current owner of this barn, and has owned it since 2003. He owns in Southampton Village and has co-authored/photographed many interior décor related books with Emelie Tolley. I have been pleased to see activity there recently leading me to hope Mead is at least using the barn as a storage facility, if not one day planning to expand his antique business into the barn. That surely would be a lovely use for it.
But before Mead, the barn was owned by the Rosko family for the previous 34 years, thus the association. The Rosko family was a prominent local farming family and many Roskos continue to make their residence in Southampton. One is even an accomplished painter. But I’m certain the Roskos didn’t build this barn. I didn’t dig far enough to find out who did, but prior to the Rosko family, the building was owned by Albert H. and Ann. H. Frankenbach. The Frankenbach family was and still is associated with the landscaping/nursery business in Southampton.
The other barn, down at the southern end of County Road 39, is owned by the Stachecki family and has been since the '60s — if not well before then. They may have even built the barn. “Waclaw Stachecki … came to this country from Poland in 1912. His wife, Josephine… came a year later. After stopping in Brooklyn, then working for farmers in Wainscott, Mr. Stachecki acquired farmland of his own in Southampton on the southwest side of the intersection of County Road 39 and Hampton Road, where his wife opened the first farmstand in the area.” The roof of this barn is not in good shape, nor are the other accessory structures on the property. But the side walls of the barn are made of concrete, giving it a surviving durability. I sure hope whoever buys the property rehabilitates the barn. I can imagine it cleverly reinterpreted as a cool vintage car sales center.
The Stachecki barn is for sale and the associated advertisements tout it having a bit more than 2 acres. But oh did it have more. Like I said in the beginning of this post, these barns were very much a part of the thriving farming industry which dominated the Hamptons until the '80s. This industry is now struggling, and so some of these large iconic and beautiful vernacular buildings once associated with it.
 "Images of America: Southampton"