A new effort is afoot to preserve the homestead of Pyrrhus Concer, born a slave in Southampton in 1814, who later in life was an intrepid, world-traveling whaler.
After years of legal battles, owners David Hermer and Silvia Campo took down Mr. Concer’s historic house last year, but they have since abandoned their building plans and placed the property on the market.
The property was listed for sale by Meegan Darby of The Corcoran Group in late November, 2014 for nearly $5 million.
State Assemblyman Fred Thiele said yesterday that he supports the purchase of the property through the Community Preservation Fund, a land preservation program funded through a 2 percent real estate transfer tax.
“The building and structures on this property were demolished with only the salvaging of historically significant materials to make way for another new home. Subsequently, the project was abandoned,” said Mr. Thiele. “We can make the best of this tragic situation by acquiring the property, returning the salvaged materials to the site, and devoting the location to research and education. This would be the outcome that would best serve the public interest.”
The property is in Southampton Village, but if CPF funds were used, they would have to come from Southampton Town, which holds the CPF money acquired through real estate transactions in the village.
While CPF purchaces may be made for historic preservation purposes, they require that the seller be willing and that the town not pay more than fair market value.
The Corcoran Group listing described the property as an “amazing opportunity to build new construction on an elevated .82 acre lot with views of Agawam Park and Agawam Lake. ARB approvals in place for 5700 +/-square foot home with pool, pool house and 496-square-foot guest home.”
The Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities has voiced its support for the preservation of the property as has Southampton historian Sally Spanburgh on her excellent blog.
Pyrrhus Concer’s travels are famous worldwide. In 1845, he was aboard a ship captained by Mercator Cooper that picked up shipwrecked Japanese sailors in the Bonin Islands. The ship was allowed to enter Tokyo Harbor under escort to return the sailors.
Pyrrhus Concer is depicted in Japanese drawings of the event.
After returning from his whaling days, Mr. Concer headed west during the California gold rush, before settling back home in Southampton, where he ran a boat on Lake Agawam. He died in 1897.