A fascinating historic estate has just come on the market on Shelter Island. “Kemah” (a Shinnecock word meaning “in the face of the wind,” because of the estate’s pleasant southwest breezes), one of the few remaining historic Shelter Island estates, has been listed for sale for $14.995 million by Penelope Moore at Saunders. The pre-Revolutionary War, wood shingled colonial was built circa 1750. Spanning two waterfront lots, the property includes 17.35 elevated acres with 385 feet on Great Fresh Pond to the north side, and over 5.6 acres of meadow with 596 feet on Peconic Bay looking south to Bridgehampton.
This property was vital to the Native Americans who accessed fresh drinking water on Fresh Pond. They constructed a large berm, which exists today, using stone and wooden tools to protect the fresh water from saltwater intrusion. It is one of the houses built by George Havens, who in 1698 bought one thousand acres of the island, which included where the property is located, from Nathanial Sylvester II whose father claimed ownership of Shelter Island. Many original features remain intact today: wood shingles, a two-story barn built in 1886, a hand-stacked fieldstone garage built in 1918, a water tower, chicken coop, a central chimney of bricks brought from Holland originally as a ship’s ballast, and exposed beams. The beams were cut and seasoned in salt water for one year prior to being dried, cut, and carved with Roman numerals for construction and possible future dismantling and rebuilding elsewhere. Remember, moving houses were not at all uncommon for our East End ancestors.