NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A controversy has pitted Hamptons homeowners against local history.
A court ruling that would decide whether a couple could demolish a home on their property has been delayed, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
The home represents the legacy of one of the most prominent former slaves in the northeast, according to village historians.
“A lot of young people don’t even have a clue about slavery. There was slavery in Southampton,” East End African-American Museum’s Brenda Simmons explained.
In 1700, 40-percent of New York homes had a domestic slave. Many of those homes were in Southampton until slavery was gradually and finally abolished in 1827.
“Treasure the past, tend to the present, and transform the future,” Simmons said.
She is leading the fight to save the property and honor the legacy of Pyrrhus Concer.
Concer was born into slavery and sold, at the age of 5, to a prominent Southampton man. He was later freed and in 1845, sailed the whaling ship Manhattan to the orient and beyond, Tom Edmonds of the Southampton Historical Museum explained.
“Manhattan was the first ship to bring a black man to Japan. So, when Pyrrhus Concer was seen by the Japanese they dropped to their knees. They had never seen a black man before,” Edmonds said.
Concer eventually returned to Southampton, married, became a landowner, and used his sailboat to ferry residents from the lake in front of his home to the ocean.
“I believe through my research that it wasn’t built for Pyrrhus. That it was built for Pyrrhus’ wife’s family and that Pyrrhus inherited it,” Southampton Preservationist Sally Spanburgh said.
Concer left all of his money to local churches, school children and sailors, according to local historians. The house was purchased by a wealthy family but recently changed hands.
The new owners have applied to raze it so they can build a new one. The family claims that the house was built-in 1900, after Concer died.
The Preservation Review Board ruled that a forensic analysis of Pyrrhus Concer’s property must be conducted before the new owners can demolish the home.
“The board is charged with a very difficult responsibility,” chairman Curtis Highsmith said.
The couple who purchased the Pond Lane property and want to tear it down said that they would put up a marker to commemorate the place were Concer lived.
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