The house, barn and large open lot at the intersection of Cedar Street and North Main Street across from the Village of East Hampton’s Emergency Services building were purchased with Community Preservation Funds by the McGintee administration for the purposes of open space and historic preservation.
Researching the history of the parcel and its buildings required solving two mysteries. Why was the lot referred to as a “mill lot” and where did the 18th century house come from as it was clearly understood to have been moved to the property by Selah Lester in 1875?
The history of ownership goes back to 1700 when the land was a town common. Permission to build a wind-powered sawmill on the common was given to John Merry who sold it to Nathanial Dominy. Through a series of events, including the conveyance of the land by the Town Trustees to a private individual, a lawsuit settled in 1861, and the abandonment and annexation of parts of Three Mile Harbor Highway (now a section of North Main Street) and Cedar Street, the land was in possession of Sybel Dominy who sold it to Selah Lester for $300 in 1874.
The origin of the 18th century house on the site was the other mystery that needed to be solved. In 1929, Thomas Edwards wrote in his “Reminiscences of Old East Hampton by the Sea” that a house in Amagansett on Old Montauk Highway was moved to North Main Street in East Hampton. The house was owned by David Barnes who had inherited it from his father Jonathan. David Barnes sold the house to Selah Lester who moved it in the winter of 1874-75.
The architecture of the Jonathan Barnes-Selah Lester house is nearly identical to Miss Amelia’s Cottage, an Amagansett Cape Cod style. Miss Amelia’s dates from circa 1725 and it is believed that the Jonathan Barnes house is of the same period.
The contribution to the rural character of East Hampton, the history of architecture, farming, and wind-powered mills are all represented on this property. The amount of documents and writings available in order to understand the evolution of this land over more then 300 years is a testament to the appreciation that the people of East Hampton have for their history.
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