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T.J. Clemente's Traditions of the Hamptons #31 - The Southampton Inn

Almost everyone

The Southampton Inn, located on 91 Hill Street, in Southampton has been a focal point of the community since 1972. Founded by Jim Passavia, who ran it for 26 years, it was purchased by Dede Gotthelf in 1998.

The Inn has long been a respite for so many visitors to Southampton including many of the rich and famous; however, as policy, all names will always remain private.

Gotthelf was a former Suffolk County certified lifeguard back when her parents lived in their summer cottage in Hampton Bays. As she tells it, “In 1951 my father went to rent the cottage for the summer again at the usual $500, but then Dan Murphy told he could buy it for $1,000.” She described Hampton Bays in the 1950s as an “idealistic place, it was so wonderful for real people to have a spot in the country at the beach.”

Gotthelf, who attended prep school in the city, went off to be one of the first women to attend Williams College. Afterward, she went on to work for Chase Manhattan Bank, her mentor being the legendary David Rockefeller. She has summed up her career to date as a, “Banker, Broker, Bureaucrat, Builder, and now an Innkeeper.”

Besides that she is married to husband Terry Moan with both a grown son and daughter. While working for Chase she traveled the world with stops in places like Paris as part of Rockefeller’s ahead of his time vision of international banking.

Now Dede’s vision is lasered on making the next years of her stewardship of The Southampton Inn one that will make the Inn more of a true Inn. She did this by creating a world class restaurant within the Inn. Heather Dunn of Heather Dunn and Co. was brought in to cover the main wall wi

th a “mossy green weathered plaster” look that is unique. An outdoor cocktail section was created for guest to casually wait or meet someone before dinning. It has a garden atmosphere. Dede’s enthusiasm for this project was obvious, she used her skilled eyes to select the art, the chairs, tables, and wooden floors to make sure that “Oso,” is always a wonderful dining experience. “Oso” is able to present both classic and imaginative dishes featuring the local produce. Years back when the whole project was but an vision, the idea was to create something “sophisticated and elegant,”  and now it is. Dede actually worked as a waitress, back in the day, for college money at the famous Irving Hotel which was closed in 1972 (that was ironically located right across from where the Southampton Inn was built.)

The Southampton inn already has been a traditional home for wonderful weddings, catered conferences, and town meetings such as the Thursday afternoon Rotary Club, or wine tastings. In fact the town gathers there to have a public forums often. 

Another caveat of The Southampton Inn is its children playroom, with an authentic children’s play Viking Range, video games, toys, and a working video showing TV. Along with the children’s playroom, the Inn has a swimming pool and beautiful grounds with chairs strategically located for private reading or conversations. In fact, many a wedding photo has been taken on these grounds in the last forty years.

Another warm gathering area is the library that Dede created for the Inn. In this room one gets a Jeffersonian feeling due to the architecture of the room that has a Monticello feeling. It is in this space that morning coffee and cake has been presented to the Inn guest and visitors for many years. 

The future is always bright for The Southampton Inn because Dede Gotthelf is committed to keep the Inn and  Oso,   in “the Southampton country, casual crisp and clear with a lot of whimsy,” atmosphere that she has created. She has a wonderful staff of greeters at the front desk, who have all been seasoned in treating everyone who walks into the Inn in a warm special way, being attentive to their needs, and desires with information along with a friendly genuine smile. The definition of an Inn is a place that provides food and lodging for travelers. The Southampton Inn under the watchful skilled eye of Dede Gotthelf will continue to that and so much more.

For more information, www.southamptoninn.com or call 1-800-832-6500, 631-283-6500.

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