Sag Harbor ARB Puts Pause on Jefferson Street Demolition

The house at 5 Jefferson Street in Sag Harbor's historic district. Christine Sampson photo
The house at 5 Jefferson Street in Sag Harbor’s historic district. Christine Sampson photo

By Christine Sampson

The Sag Harbor Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review stuck to the word of village code last Thursday when developer Mitch Winston and architect Anthony Vermandois came before the board to discuss a partial or full demolition of a dilapidated house on Jefferson Street.

The house, 5 Jefferson Street, is a contributing house in the village’s historic district, meaning it is considered to be of architecturally historic significance. Village code prohibits demolition of contributing houses in the historic district.

According to the survey of historic buildings in Sag Harbor, the two-story, two-bay house was built in 1870 as an Italianate style cottage, and was later modified with a front stoop, projecting front bay and two rear additions prior to 1916.

“It doesn’t seem to us that there’s anything of great historic value,” Mr. Vermandois told the board.

“This may be a house that’s worth studying a little more,” was the reply from Zach Studenroth, the board’s historic preservation consultant.

For example, he said, the projecting front bay “gives the house some architectural interest.”

The board drew a comparison to the house at 6 Union Street, known as the Morpurgo house, which is directly behind 5 Jefferson Street. Mr. Winston and his associates had bought that house at auction in 2016 before selling it this past summer, and they currently allow the new owners of the Morpurgo house to use 5 Jefferson Street to access the back yard of their property as they undertake a major restoration and renovation project. If 6 Union Street can be resuscitated, board members suggested, then 5 Jefferson Street certainly can, too.

Mr. Winston suggested “before we put demolition to bed 100 percent” that he bring in a structural engineer who can attest to the fact, he said, that the walls are bowing outward.

Board chairman Anthony Brandt reiterated the code provision prohibiting demolition of historic houses.

“It’s an old house, it’s an interesting house,” he said. “It needed work and obviously the previous owner couldn’t afford to do that. But you can, and for me that’s crucial.”