Historic Preservation Board Opens Window Discussion — Again

A photo of 59 Hempstead Street where red circles represent features to be removed or replaced. BHPAR file photo

Members of Sag Harbor’s Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review have, at one point or another, referred to historic windows as the “soul” or the “eyes” of a house, and say they have gone to great lengths to work with homeowners and builders to preserve original windows as much as possible.

The subject was raised again at last Thursday’s board meeting, when Colin Hoogerwerf, representing Dean M. Taucher and Gabrielle Lansner of 59 Hempstead Street, came before the board with a request to replace 11 single-pane windows with new, double-pane Marvin windows that he said would help the homeowners save on energy costs.

“Some of them you can’t open,” Mr. Hoogerwerf said.

He also said the homeowners want to remove both of the house’s non-functional chimneys, one brick and one stainless steel, to enable them to change over to a gas-heated system with separate ventilation.

“From further away, I think it will look exactly the same as it was before,” Mr. Hoogerwerf said. “The main reason to do this is definitely energy savings.”

According to Sag Harbor’s historic survey, the house is a “modest cottage” built between 1905 and 1915. It is a one-and-a-half story, three-bay frame residence with two-over-two light wooden sash windows.

Zach Studenroth, the board’s historic preservation consultant, told Mr. Hoogerwerf “this is a board of historic preservation, not technological advancement.”

“From an architectural standpoint, a chimney is oftentimes an historical feature that is indicative of the design of the house,” Mr. Studenroth said. “It doesn’t need to function in an up-to-date way to be contributing to the visual effect. … If the window sashes prove original to the house, these things can be made to be operative. The operational aspect is not the consideration. The consideration is how does this contributing resource look from the street?”

Mr. Hoogerwerf and the board agreed on a house visit for an in-depth review of the historic windows and their condition, and the board tabled the matter to its November 8 meeting.

The board also agreed to send two members on a visit to 431 Main Street, where the property owner, William Renwick, planted trees that deviated from the board-approved landscaping plan from when the house was recently built. Mr. Renwick asked the board last Thursday to amend the plan to build a fence around the property so the incorrect trees wouldn’t be an issue visually.

431 Main Street. Christine Sampson photo

The board has objected, so far, to the fence idea.

“I think a solid fence is an incorrect application,” said Dean Gomolka, a board member who is considered a landscaping expert. “The plants that you planted are not deer resistant and need full sun. … It doesn’t look good and I don’t think wrapping the property in a fence, and a solid fence, is going to work.”

Board member Bethany Deyermond said she thought a picket fence would be more appropriate. “I’d be okay with a solid fence around the back,” she said. “I would not approve a fence like that in the front.”

When Mr. Gomolka described it as “not a cohesive landscape,” Mr. Renwick said, “I didn’t realize that I had absolutely no room to make changes given what was available at the nursery.”

Mr. Gomolka and Ms. Deyermond volunteered to help Mr. Renwick sort it out during a site visit. The board tabled the matter to its November 8 meeting.

“This is a very prominent, visual property and I think that it’s very important that we get this right,” Mr. Gomolka said.