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.”
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