Has anyone noticed the slow and steady destruction of the Inn at Quogue over the past four months or so? This building was originally a Hallock family farmhouse built in 1824, and later, as of the 1870s, a boarding house/hotel run by John Dayton Hallock. In October 2012, the owners said they were going to restore the building, and a sign was even posted on the site saying it would be listed on the State and/or National Register of Historic Places when the RESTORATION was finished. Unfortunately, there is maybe only a stick or two of its original fiber left. And who’s behind this destruction? Those who you would believe to be at the forefront of any and all preservation movements in the Village of Quogue, including the higher-ups in their local historical society. Has the public been deceived? It sure seems like it.
I’m sure we will all soon hear the same old argument, that they had no choice: there was too much rot, too much infestation, too much this or that. I say, where there’s a will there’s a way. In this case, however, that will was obviously weak, and the so-called Quogue preservationists seemed to succumb easily to the idea of letting it go. But instead of tearing it down outright, they carefully dismantled it. And now, as we drive by, all we see is new framing and new sheathing. The old Hallock House is gone. Hello Reproduction. (Goodbye state/national register listing.)
I can’t help but wonder if this was deliberate because, unfortunately, I’ve seen it too many times before. It’s almost obvious from the beginning. But because you want to believe, so much, that the building will be saved, will be restored, and will – ultimately – be this shining, great example of the positive effects of a great preservation project (like the Abraham Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton – despite how you may feel about the new accessory buildings), you even persuade yourself, while watching more and more of the original building be removed, that – at any moment now – the progress of the work will turn toward what seems more like restoration and reconstruction, and less like destruction. That, however, never happened.
This is the same village that asked me to speak with them less than a year ago about toughening their local preservation ordinance. Ha! This is the same village that allowed their historic field club – the work of American architect Stanford White – to be demolished! I’d like to believe that the Town of Southampton is on the verge of finally swinging over to the pro- historic preservation side in general these days. In Quogue? It’s the opposite. Too bad, for it is ripe with historic structures begging, pining even, for protection.