The rebuilding of the home of Pyrrhus Concer could get underway soon in Southampton as a museum. Mr. Concer led a fascinating life. He was born to a slave on March 17, 1814; his own status, due to obscure New York State law at the time, was indentured servant, not slave. However, he was sold at age five to Charles Pelletreau, great-grandson of the silversmith. Pyrrhus worked the farm fields as a youth, and then went to sea as a whaler when he was 18. On his 21st birthday, he was freed from servitude by Charles Pelletreau. He continued to work as a whaler and was one of the first Americans to dock in Tokyo, Japan, and probably the first person of color ever to visit Japan. He bought property in Southampton with his earnings and died a wealthy man.
His house, or what was left of it after renovations, was purchased in 2013 by David Hermer and Silvia Campo. They applied to demolish the house. After months of debate, the Southampton Village Architectural Review Board refused to allow the demolition, after which the homeowners filed a $10M lawsuit, stating their property rights were being infringed. Eventually the two sides came to an agreement and historic artifacts from the house were saved. Then the house was was demolished. Next, the homeowners decided they didn't want to build a new home after all and placed the property on the market. Southampton Town then purchased the property for $4.3M, using Community Preservation Fund monies.
Plans were then created to rebuild the house as it was, using the existing elements, as a museum devoted to a local African American and as a record of Southampton life in the nineteenth century. Chaleff & Rogers Architects of Water Mill are drawing up the plans although Mr. Chaleff warned Curbed that these are so far very preliminary.
In addition to the reconstructed house, the museum, next to Lake Agawam where Mr. Concer ran a ferry service, will include a visitor center, amphitheater, walkways and a water feature that includes ponds and waterfalls. Sounds excellent.