A Piece of Southold History Hits the Market

Yellow House
The “Yellow House” on Traveler Street has served as a school, a chapel and the Southold Town Clerk’s office.

Traveler Street in Southold is just a few blocks long, but this inconspicuous street one block north of Route 25 holds several important artifacts of Southold history.

The street, which runs from Youngs Avenue to Horton Lane, is anchored near its west end by the former Traveler-Watchman newspaper office, and on the east end by Academy Printing, housed in one of Southold’s original schoolhouses.

But smack in the center of this assemblage is an inconspicuous yellow house, built in 1794, which served as a school, a Presbyterian chapel, the Southold Town Clerk’s office and as a key piece in Southold Library’s failed expansion effort nearly four years ago.

The library, which owns the building, put it on the market with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s Realty earlier this month for $349,000.

Library Director Caroline MacArthur said this week that the library put the half-acre property up for sale after deciding that it would no longer play a role in any future expansion plans.

The library, whose driveway is next door to the yellow house, received a lot line modification  from the Southold Planning Board earlier this year that will give them room to enlarge the library’s entrance on Traveler Street “if something comes through in the future,” she said.

Daniel Gale Sotheby’s agent Carol Szynaka is the listing agent for the property.

An image of the yellow house from the early 1960s from Southold Historical Society's "Images of Southold."
An image of the yellow house from the early 1960s from Southold Historical Society’s “Images of Southold.”

“That building has a long history. It’s had many lives,” she said this week. She said it was originally built on the Main Road, but was moved to its current location in the 1950s.

At that time, a modern foundation was poured on the sloping site, giving the building a basement with 10-foot high ceilings.

Ms. Szynaka said the building was originally constructed as a school, underwent a major reconstruction in 1844, and remained a school until 1870, when it became a chapel for the Presbyterian church. It remained a part of the church until 1952, when it was moved to Traveler Street and became the town clerk headquarters.

The building was just one of several academic institutions that served Southold during the 19th Century, including the Southold Academy (now Academy Printing), which was opened in 1867 by the Presbyterian Church on the corner of Traveler Street and Horton Lane, and the Locust Grove School, built in 1819 and moved to the current site of the triangular Memorial Park on Route 25. Walt Whitman briefly taught in the Locust Grove School circa 1840. That building has since collapsed.

Ms. Szynaka said the Traveler Street building was later converted into two apartments before the library purchased it in 2007.

The property lies just outside the Southold Historic District.
The property lies just outside the Southold Historic District.

“It’s got some beautiful high ceilings and wavy glass windows,” she said. “It’s currently subdivided into couple units. The basement ceilings are ten feet high, which is very unusual for a structure of that age.”

The property is zoned hamlet business, said Ms. Szynaka, and can be used for retail and office space or apartments or as a residence, but could not be used for a water-intensive business like a restaurant.

The property sits just outside of the Southold Historic District, and the building is not on the National Register of Historic Places. Ms. Szynaka said the Southold Historical Society briefly expressed an interest in it, but decided against investing in the property just before it was put on the market.

Ms. Szynaka said the $349,000 price tag reflects some structural issues, including mold and water damage.

“It’s well worth the investment,” she said. “You feel the history in there.”

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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