ACTION ALERT! 

Guest Cottage at Brooks-Park. Photo by Brian Boyhan for 27east.com

Attention East Hamptonites! Please join Preservation Long Island, Marietta Gavaris and the Brooks-Park Arts and Nature Center (a new nonprofit), the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Preservation League of New York State in advocating for James Brooks and Charlotte Park Home and Studios, located in the Springs community of East Hampton, NY.

Please call (631-324-4141) or email East Hampton Town officials and ask them to allocate the remaining $2.7 million of available CPF tax revenue for this year to support much-needed management and stewardship initiatives at Brook-Park and other town-owned CPF sites.

Brooks-Park is an internationally significant site purchased by East Hampton Town in 2013 via the local government’s Community Preservation Fund (CPF) program. Over the past decade, Brooks-Park has faced vacancy, vandalism, disrepair, and even the threat of town-funded demolition. Despite widespread public interest, progress is mired by a lack of dedicated funding, as well as the need for qualified historic preservation staff within the Town’s CPF program. Such staffers could help efficiently manage and maintain Brooks-Parks and other sites following recognized standards in collaboration with local community partners. More direct professional support from the Town CPF program would also enable local volunteers and nonprofit partners to focus their limited resources on providing public programming at CPF sites rather than property management.

Additional CPF funding appears to be available for hiring professional staff and other initiatives. Each year the Town may spend up to 10% of its available CPF tax revenue towards management and stewardship expenses at town-owned CPF sites (see section 112-1-35C of the Town Code and the 2022 CPF Management and Stewardship Plan). Unfortunately, the Town Board has only budgeted $1.5 million of the $4.2 million available for management and stewardship expenses this year. We hope the Town Board will amend the 2022 CPF Management and Stewardship Plan to invest the remaining $2.7 million in available funds towards supporting historic preservation at Brooks-Park and other CPF sites this year.

Peconic Bay Region CPF tax revenue. Courtesy of 27east.com

CPF tax revenues continue to soar along with the East End’s record-setting real estate market. March of 2022 was the 18th consecutive month that CPF tax revenue exceeded $10 million in a single month. As an abundance of new CPF revenue becomes available for investment in community projects, the time is right to maximize preservation benefits for East End communities. Land conservation and historic preservation need not be mutually exclusive, in fact, these goals enhance each other. We hope to see historic preservation initiatives better integrated with open space and agricultural land conservation to protect both the historical and environmental aspects of our region’s cultural landscapes.

James Brooks vernacular-modernist studio (built 1959), pictured above ca. 2018. Photo by Gordon M. Grant, courtesy of Newsday.

Why is Brooks-Park Home and Studios historically significant?

Jackson Pollock and James Brooks on the path to Brooks and Park’s Montauk studio in 1950. Photograph by Hans Namuth, courtesy of Brook Park Heritage Project.

James Brooks (1906–1992) and Charlotte Park (1918–2010) were pioneers of the Abstract Expressionism movement. They settled in the Springs community of East Hampton to be near friends and fellow artists who also lived and worked in the area, including Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) and Lee Krasner (1908–1984).

The site features: James Brooks’s Studio, a vernacular modernist-style structure built in 1959; Charlotte Park’s Studio, also known as the former Wainscott Post Office, relocated from Main Street ca. 1970/1; and the artists’ residence, a 19th-century timber-frame cottage relocated from Montauk in 1957. The buildings are designated as town historic landmarks and eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Charlotte Park and James Brooks, ca. 1950s, courtesy of Brooks Park Heritage Project.

Why is Brooks-Park Home and Studios endangered?

This site is threatened by vacancy, vandalism, disrepair, and possibly town-funded demolition. Despite widespread public interest, progress is limited by the lack of professional historic preservation staff within  East Hampton Town’s CPF program. Years of delayed maintenance and ongoing deterioration at Brooks-Park demonstrate the urgent need for qualified professional staff or consultants with expertise in historic preservation to ensure that historic CPF properties are accessible to the public and maintained in accordance with recognized standards.

James Brooks working in his studio, courtesy of Brooks Park Heritage Project.
Vandalism and disrepair at James Brooks Studio, ca. November 2019, photo by Michael Wright for Southampton Press.

How can Brooks-Park Home and Studios be preserved?

Preservation Long Island recommends East Hampton Town officials consider the following actions for preserving this site:

• Fully stabilize, secure, and mothball all structures as soon as possible.

• Hire qualified historic preservation professional(s) to enhance the Town CPF program. Such staffers could help develop and administer appropriate management and stewardship plans for Brooks-Park and other CPF sites in collaboration with local community partners.

• Appoint community members with experience or expertise in historic preservation, preservation planning, historic resources management, and/or public history to serve on the Town’s CPF Advisory Board and the Property Management Committee.

• Open all meetings of Town Property Management Committee to public observation, even when no public hearings are scheduled.

• Accommodate a diversity of mixed uses and public programming supported by partnerships with multiple nonprofit partners. Historic preservation need not preclude or prevent a variety of complementary mixed uses, for example: historic interpretation and art history programs, studio space for local artists, outdoor activities and events, as well as nature and hiking trails. Such uses would complement the area’s renowned art museums, e.g., the Pollack-Krasner House and Study Center and the Parrish Art Museum.

• Leverage pledges of CPF tax revenue to raise dollar-for-dollar matching contributions from private donors and foundations. Private matching funds could help support rehabilitation work, as well as public programming provided by nonprofit stewardship partners.

• Seek additional guidance for preservation planning and decision-making from experts at New York State Historic Preservation Office’s Technical Preservation Services Bureau.

Former residence of artists James Brooks and Charlotte Park, ca. December 2019. The property has stood vacant and deteriorating for nearly a decade. Image courtesy of Dan’s Papers.


Preservation Long Island’s Endangered Historic Places Program is made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.