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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Town of Southampton Landmarks & Historic Districts Board
May 11, 2017
Southampton – After recognition by the Southampton Landmarks & Historic Districts Board as being historically and architecturally significant, the Academy in Remsenburg was designated a landmark by the Town in August 2016. Originally a private school, the building was constructed during the American Civil War. With the Academy, the number of Town Landmarks now totals 29 properties. “Landmarking of the Academy will help preserve this handsome historic building and document its story for Southampton’s generations to come,” said Town Councilman John Bouvier, who is also the Town Board’s liaison to the Landmarks & Historic Districts Board.
The Remsenburg Academy Association, Inc., which stewards the Academy, will host a small reception on Saturday, June 3, at 4:30 PM to celebrate the landmarking of this historic structure and unveil the first “official” Town Landmark plaque. The association is very pleased with the landmark designation and wants the public to be aware of the historic significance of the Academy. To further this objective, they worked with the Landmarks & Historic Districts Board to develop a plaque design that will now be available to all Town-designated landmarks. The association hopes that this recognition will further historic preservation efforts in the community.
The Academy, one of only a few surviving private-school buildings in the Town, is located at 130 South County Road in Remsenburg. The street is a former post road and part of the historic stagecoach route from Brooklyn to Sag Harbor. Although commonly known today as the “Remsenburg Academy,” the building was constructed about 1863 when the entire area was known as Speonk. The portion of Speonk that includes the Academy was re-named Remsenburg in about 1897.
The Academy was built by John Webster Tuthill, who constructed it as a one-room intermediate school for young gentlemen. It is an Italianate Villa style building with a bell tower centered in the front façade. Overall it retains a very high level of integrity and is an excellent example of the Italianate Villa style.
John W. Tuthill graduated from the Quaker Locust Valley Academy as a professor of mathematics. Tuthill was born on November 3, 1836, in Speonk. He was the great-grandson of the original Speonk settler, John Tuthill (1728-1805), known as “Hunter John,” who came from Cutchogue to settle in Speonk about 1760.
The students were from New York City and boarded with local farm families during the school term. While Tuthill taught several subjects; Maria Vanderpool Studley of Claverack, New York, taught English grammar, Latin, and literature. John Tuthill closed the school in 1869 when he married Miss Studley and turned his energies to other activities.
Following their marriage, John and Maria Tuthill constructed the building directly to the west of the Academy (132 South Country Road) and operated it as a boarding house (Ocean House). By the 1908 summer season, room and board at the Ocean House was $8-$10 per week and a stagecoach met guests upon arrival at the Speonk train station. The Academy building was likely used as part of the boarding house. By the 1930s, the Academy building was used as a rental residence.
In 1958, the Academy was put to use as the local post office. This use continued until 1967. Shortly after that, the Academy was sold out of the Tuthill family to Robert Burchette of New York City for use as a residence. Burchette and his tenant, Joe Ryle, proved to be the last private owners of the Academy. After their deaths, the Academy was bequeathed to the community for use as a library and repository for local artifacts and records.
In the 1990s, the Remsenburg Association leased the building from the Town of Southampton and initiated long-overdue repairs. The Remsenburg Academy Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, was subsequently established to facilitate fundraising and other activities associated with the operation and maintenance of the building. Today, the Academy is a valued community resource for public meetings and events.
According to Sally Spanburgh, Chair of the Town’s Landmarks & Historic Districts Board, Town Landmark designation often enhances property values, increases the historic integrity of the neighborhood and promotes its unique architectural character. A landmark status does not prevent property owners from performing routine maintenance anytime or from improving their property upon review by the Landmarks & Historic Districts Board, who help to ensure the integrity of a historic structure is preserved.
Once a structure is designated as a local Town Landmark, it also becomes eligible for a tax abatement program, a preservation easement acquisition, and a maintenance award. The Town also may grant zoning code relief. For example, the owner of a landmark is allowed to have a legal guest (“carriage”) house on the property without having to acquire a development right and the owner of a landmark located within a commercial zone may be eligible for a use variance.
If you are interested in pursuing a Southampton Town Landmark designation for a historic structure at least 50 years old, contact Sally Spanburgh, chair of the Landmarks & Historic Districts Board, at 631-283-6000 or email@example.com.
Contact: Sally Spanburgh: (631) 283-6000
Contact: John Bouvier: (631) 287-5745