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Village Board Eyes Condemning Rhodes House [Empty in Southampton]

Preservationist says that underneath the shell of 22 Windmill Lane is a mid 18th century gem.

It's one of the oldest buildings still standing in Southampton Village, but now, — after having undergone additions and experiencing years of neglect — the Rhodes house is an eyesore that needs to be dealt with, according to members of the Village Board.

The village fire marshal recently issued a number of violations to the property owner, Trustee Bonnie Cannon said at Thursday's board meeting, adding that there is potential for condemning the building.

Some windows are boarded up while others are broken, leaving the building open to the elements and critters. It has been sprayed with graffiti both inside and out, and photos provided by the village show beer bottles and other litter strewn about inside, indicating trespassers were there.

"Now it's not just an eyesore, but it's definitely a safety hazard," Cannon said. “It’s just a really bad situation."

Robert Strada, a historic restoration expert who almost bought the building a few years ago, said in recent interviews that the Rhodes house was built circa 1760 at the corner of North Main Street and Hampton Road. But when Southampton Town decided around 1920 to build a new town hall there, the Rhodes house was moved to 22 Windmill Lane.

But what can be seen from the street is not part of the original Rhodes house, Strada explained. “When you look at 22 Windmill Lane, there is this odd façade on it. The original building is just that small building beneath the gable roof.”

He said there are many unique features in the original parts of the building that confirm it predates the Revolutionary War.

While the identity of who first lived in the house is uncertain, early maps attribute ownership to Henry Rhodes, a sea captain, and after he passed away his family continued to live there through the end of the 18th century and into the 19th century, Strada said.

At one point in its history, the building was a plumbing showroom, Strada said. “It's last use, going back to the '90s, was as a multifamily dwelling — that's what the [certificate of occupancy] reads.”

According to a cityfeet.com listing, 22 Windmill Lane is on the market for $1 million. The listing says that 4,434-sqaure-foot building will be removed from the lot, which is in the Village Business district.

Strada said that his efforts to buy the building in 2006 were sidelined by the economic recession and Health Department constraints on the property. He said the Rhodes house is worth restoring because it can "easily express that way of life in that period of Southampton Village.”

What would you like to see happen with the Rhodes house? Share you thoughts in the comments section below.

See more from the Empty in Southampton series:

Parfil April 18, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I would like to see this property restored. There is much of "Old Southampton" that is gone, like the splendor of the movie theatre, the empty lots that made for easy walkways from the parking lots. Southampton was "The Queen of the Hamptons" or does no one remember.
Sharon Marie Buckler April 19, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Preserve it! Don't be so quick to let it be torn down. Use Robert strada's expertise and take off the fake facade and bring it back to what it was. Use it for something for the historical society, and since it is in village use it for a museum of sorts about business in the 17th through 18th century. Take east Hampton for example, we have lovely buildings that are used for education purposes through our historical society. Raise money and awareness... Please do not raze this building.
Tom Edmonds April 19, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Very sad. This could be a great addition to the Village's historic fabric and charm.
Jerry Can April 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM
The village should clean it up and fix the windows and rotting plywood and whatever else needs to be done to keep it decent. Send the bill to the owners who have neglected it waiting for a better pay day. Put a lean on the property if the bills are not paid. And take it over if eventually the owners don't honor those bills. I don't know if this is legal. But its been an abandoned property for too long and no reason for the community to be subjected to that anymore.
William Yule April 19, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Bulldozer it allready. It's an eyesore !!!
b April 21, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Of course, once an "eyesore" always an eyesore? Wouldn't want to think out of the box and see what it can be, just what it is. Clearly, this property should be preserved.
Jackie April 21, 2012 at 05:09 PM
WOW !!!! The village just opened their eyes. If the village has MONEY they don't know what to use it for just ask or do they CARE. Better acces to the beach for handicapped beach goers ( NOT BEING TOLD BY VILLAGE OFFICE LADIES " YOU WANT TO GO TO COOPERS, BUY A HOUSE IN THE VILLAGE"). Also get rid of the DAM mess that 7-11 that is supported by the village ELITE. Day workers don't have drivers so why are Bentleys picking them up at 7-1 on saturday morning?

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