Since it was founded in 1949 after two children of migrant workers died in a fire when their parents were out working in the fields, the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center has been based in an aging farmhouse on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.
To be sure, over the years, the center has been expanded with a classroom building and other facilities, but this month, it will mark a major milestone when that rickety old farmhouse, still being used as its main office, is demolished on Saturday, October 24, to make way for a new classroom and administrative center.
“We’ve been working with this old building for many, many years,” said the center’s director, Bonnie Cannon, who noted that while the building has a certain coziness about it, it has definitely outlived its usefulness.
It will be replaced with an approximately 3,000-square-foot, two-story cedar-shingled building designed by Southampton architect Siamak Samii and constructed by RLW4 Builders, a Southampton contractor.
The new building will take certain design cues from the farmhouse, Ms. Cannon said, “because there is lot of history there that we don’t want to lose.”
Besides new administrative offices on the first floor, the building will have a computer lab, classroom space, a library, conference room, multipurpose room, storage space, restrooms, and a staff break room, where employees will be able to use a microwave to warm up their lunch without having to first turn off the lights in the room for fear of blowing a fuse.
There will be a wraparound porch on the north side of the building, which can be used as an outdoor classroom space as well, and space for the community food pantry hosted by the center. There will even be an elevator — good news for those who have a hard time climbing the steep and narrow staircase.
Ms. Cannon said the building will cost between $2.5 million and $3 million, which the center has on hand, thanks to a successful capital fundraising effort. But Ms. Cannon said the fundraising campaign is continuing “so we have a nice cushion to sustain the operating , which will go up with the bigger building” and the prospect of more people using the center.
The center is selling 4-by-4 inch bricks for $100 and 8-by-8 inch bricks for $200. They can be customized with a message for a slightly higher fee. The bricks are available by visiting the center’s website at bhccrc.org.
Ms. Cannon said the center anticipates that the number of children coming to its after-school and summer camp programs will likely rise once the addition and the threat of COVID-19 eases.
“We’ve always had a waiting list for our after-school program,” she said. That program is currently capped at 36 students by state regulators, but will likely be expanded once the new building is completed. “We’ll have adequate space to do the things we need to do,” she said.
In normal times, the groundbreaking ceremony, which will take place at 11 a.m., would be cause for a neighborhood celebration. “If you are from Bridgehampton or been around for a while, you know about the center,” Ms. Cannon said, referring to the central role it has always played in the community.
However, with COVID-19 still a risk, the event will be an invitation-only affair. But that doesn’t mean people from the neighborhood can’t gather across the street to watch the old house come down and the first step taken toward a bright future for the center. But for people planning to drop in for the show, Ms. Cannon asks that they keep a safe social distance and wear masks.