Friday, December 02
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Time Capsule

As soon as you enter the threshold of the ancient saltbox, built circa 1720, you are carried back to an earlier time. “It represents the power of place and shows you what it would have been like to live in East Hampton in the 1700’s and 1800’s,” says listing agent Jackie Lowey of Saunders. Lowey ought to know. As a former deputy director of the National Park Service, which oversees nationally significant historic properties, the real estate agent specializes in marketing historic properties for which she has a deep fondness. 

The modest timber frame house, known as the Conklin House, is very special, most specifically because it retains so many original features that it is required by the Town of East Hampton to remain as is for the most part. Any new owner must abide by a variety of strict historic preservation easements in order to retain the character of the house.

“The Conklin House at 57 Accabonac Road has a high level of significance as the best example of an eighteenth century “saltbox” house in the Town of East Hampton outside the Inc. Village,” according to Robert Hefner, the town’s historic preservation consultant on the property.

Whoever purchases the .83-acre property with its old-growth trees, will have to be an avid caretaker. Let’s take a look at the front parlor, for instance. There the original blueish paneling can never be altered. Ditto for all original interior four-panel doors. In the old kitchen, now used as a drawing room, is the original bake oven, also protected. Even the hedge outside must be kept trimmed so as to allow the property to be seen from the street.

A tour of the house reveals something amazing: It has retained so much of its original details that it doesn’t feel like it belongs in this century at all. There are distinctive exposed hand-hewn beams everywhere, wide floor planks and four splendid original fireplaces.

Which is why it is going to take a very unusual owner to take over its preservation. “It is a home for a very special buyer who loves, understands and appreciates historic houses,” says Lowey. “When you purchase such a home you become part of its tradition and history.” Indeed, only three families have owned and cared for the home in the past 300 years. It is on the market for $1.32 million.

To love the house is to love what is very much not in style: a warren of strangely connected rooms with low ceilings and small windows. Though not dark, it is certainly not bright either. But while most of the home cannot be modified, there is some leeway for the new owner. A 900-foot addition can be added to the back, for example, making for a roomy master suite or family room. And the kitchen can be modified as its changes throughout the years have deemed it non-historic. An upstairs half bath can most likely be converted to a full bath and an outside barn just might pass muster as a pool house. And, yes, there’s room for a pool.

The current family clearly loves it. They have lived here year-round since 2005 and have kept if very much as it always was. It seems as if there will be no problem selling this. When it came on the market in late May agent Lowey was inundated with showings. “The response was overwhelming,” she says. “It’s exciting to know that there are so many people who appreciate a historic property of this nature.”