Tomorrow, Sunday, July 27 at 3:00PM, architect & author, Gary Lawrance will be giving a walking tour at the south end of Lake Agawam in Southampton. The subject will be, "The Founding of the Southampton Summer Colony"
|The cottage of Dr. Theodore Gaillard Thomas, on the dunes with the beach club beyond.|
In his tour & talk, Mr. Lawrance will answer the question as to how and why Southampton and the other Hamptons, became a preferred location by the rich and social elite of the Gilded Age. It is also at the location of the tour that it all began. In the 1870s, a Dr. Theodore Gaillard Thomas from New York came to visit Southampton and upon seeing it and experiencing it's healthy benefits of clean air and refreshing breezes, decided to build a summer cottage. He bought some land at the southeast corner of Lake Agawam, facing the Atlantic Ocean and built a 4 story tall Victorian structure, that had so many porches that the locals called it the, "The Birdcage". The Doctor was so pleased with Southampton that he told all of his Blue Blood & Social Register patients and friends back in New York City, that Southampton was the place to be for good health, relaxation and good companionship amongst their friends. They soon followed suit and began to build their own cottages near Dr. Thomas and along the shores of Lake Agawam. This is generally agreed to be the epicenter of the invasion of New Yorker's, that would come and transform the sleepy village of Southampton, into a place of impressive shingle style cottages, social prominence and the chic and glamour that comes where ever the rich and famous congregate.
Mr. Lawrance will talk and show photos of the original Thomas cottage, the origins of the Beach Club and the Dune Church. He will also discuss some of the many remaining cottages that surround Lake Agawam and their fascinating stories. Towards the end of the tour/talk he will focus on the estate called Wooldon Manor. This estate consisted of a huge 58 room mansion later owned by James and Jessie Woolworth Donahue, built on the former Thomas property and the Donahue's stories of social aspiration and tragedy. After Mr. Donahue committed suicide, Mrs. Donahue lost interest in the property and Southampton society who wanted nothing to do with her. In 1937 the estate was sold to Edmund Lynch of Merrill Lynch. Mr. Lynch died a year later and his estate trustees demolished the mansion. They then subdivided the property, selling most of it to Mr. Lynch's partner Charles Merrill. While the mansion was gone, the part of the lot which had formerly been the site of the Thomas cottage and torn down by the Donahues, who built a Tudor pool house there, Mr Merrill converted into a residence.
Wooldon Manor has been recently been in the news due to the sale of this land. In 1877 when Dr. Thomas bought his 14 acre property for $200.00 per acre, the local farmers were aghast that someone would pay so much for land that was so close to the ocean, which was considered a bad neighbor. In 1900 Dr. Thomas sold off a big piece of the estate to a Dr. Peter Brown Wyckoff for $20,000. Then twenty eight years later the Wyckoff property was sold to the James Donahue family for $150,000, which also bought the remaining Thomas land and recombined the estate, so that it ran from Gin Lane to the ocean. In 2013 the entire property minus a small parcel that was once the carriage and greenhouses, sold for $75 million. In 2014 the property was again put on the market and has just recently sold for $80 million. I wonder what those farmers who were aghast in 1877 would think today?
|Wooldon Manor at Southampton.|
Here are some links to more about the recent sale of Wooldon Manor, which the expanded pool house is now called.
Wooldon Manor and many other Hamptons houses are featured in the best selling book, " Houses of the Hamptons, 1880-1930" by Gary Lawrance& Anne Surchin. Click HERE to buy the newly revised 2013 editon. Click HERE to buy the 2007 edition.
The tour will meet in the parking lot in front of the Southampton Beach Club/Dune Church buildings at the south end of Lake Agawam in Southampton.
Sunday, July 27 at 3:00 PM, $10, free for members of the Southampton Historical Museum. For more information please click, HERE.