Attention Southamptonites! Join us in supporting the Pyrrhus Concer Home Site at 51 Pond Lane in Southampton, NY. If you live in Southampton, please contact your elected town officials and village officials to let them know you support restoration of the Pyrrhus Concer Home Site.
Why is Pyrrhus Concer Home Site historically significant?
This site encompasses significant historic structures and archaeological resources directly associated with Pyrrhus Concer (March 17, 1814–August 23, 1897), a celebrated Southampton whaler, entrepreneur, and community leader. He became one of the first African Americans to visit Japan while serving aboard Manhattan, an American whaling ship that returned a group of shipwrecked Japanese sailors in 1845.
Concer’s family has deep roots in Southampton, where they helped establish one of Long Island’s earliest free communities of color. After their manumission in the early 1800s, Concer’s grandparents, Gad and Esther, purchased and settled land west of Agawam Lake (known as “Gad’s Lot”), which Pyrrhus eventually inherited.
Southampton Town acquired the property in 2015 via its Community Preservation Fund (CPF) to protect and restore the site in partnership with the Village of Southampton. The site is a designated landmark of Southampton Village and is located within the Southampton Village National Register Historic District.
Why is the Pyrrhus Concer Home Site endangered?
The site is threatened by inter-municipal delays and other challenges. Despite popular interest in restoring the property, the project has shifted back-and-forth between town and village officials for years without a clear public roadmap for inter-municipal review and approval. In light of such uncertainty, efforts by community stakeholders and potential non-profit partners in support of the project are limited and experience frequent setbacks. Meanwhile, the integrity of sensitive historic and archaeological resources at Pyrrhus Concer Home Site are also threatened by the use of unqualified contractors to perform maintenance and other work.
These threats demonstrate an urgent need for more equitable investment of Southampton Town CPF program tax revenue in long-term preservation planning, management, and stewardship at this and other town-owned CPF historic sites.
How can Pyrrhus Concer Home Site be preserved?
Preservation Long Island joins our local partners at the Southampton African American Museum (SAAM) in advocating officials of Southampton Town and Southampton Village to pursue the following actions for preserving this site:
• Provide a clear roadmap for residents, stakeholders, and potential non-profit partners to guide the process of inter-municipal review and approval for restoration of this and other town-owned CPF historic sites.
• Develop a clear inter-municipal preservation plan between the village and town to guide future restoration, management, and stewardship of this site in collaboration with residents, local stakeholders, and potential non-profit partners.
• Allocate Southampton Town CPF tax revenue to hire a historic preservation planner and/or other qualified professionals to provide sufficient support for the long-term management and stewardship of Pyrrhus Concer Home Site and other town-owned CPF historic sites.
• Appoint citizens with expertise in historic preservation, preservation planning, historic resources management, and/or public history to serve on the Southampton Town CPF Advisory Board. Open all meetings of the town CPF Advisory Board to public observation, even if there are no public hearings scheduled.
• Leverage pledges of CPF tax revenue to raise dollar-for-dollar matching contributions from private donors and foundations like the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. Private matching funds could help support rehabilitation work, as well as ongoing public programming provided by non-profit 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.
Sources and further reading:
• “Preservation Update: The Case Of The Pyrrhus Concer Homestead”
(2016) by Dr. Georgette Grier-Key
• “Archaeological Investigation of the Pyrrhus Concer Homesite” (2017) by Dr. Allison McGovern
• “Digging the Roots of Inequality on Long Island” (2014) by Dr. Allison McGovern
• Slavery in New York (2005) by Dr. Ira Berlin and Dr. Leslie M. Harris
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.