DOMINY SHOPS, 78 North Main Street, East Hampton
The 1791 woodworking shop and 1798 clock shop will be restored to their historic setting and context, being on their original site and being connected by an exact reconstruction of the timber frame and exterior of the Dominy House. On the interior, the reconstruction will contain an exhibit area between the two shops.
The Dominy Shops were designated a historic landmark by the East Hampton Village Board in 2013.
The Dominy Shops — Carpenter Shop + Clock Shop — were donated to the Village in 2016. These two buildings impart a tangible sense of the environment in which the Dominy craftsmen of the eighteenth and early nineteenth-century labored, particularly Nathaniel Dominy IV and Nathaniel Dominy V. Within these two shops were made many of the objects that were part of daily life in East Hampton including tall case clocks, household furniture, farm implements and windmill machinery.
The site for the proposed Dominy Shops museum is the grass border between North Main Street and the pavement of the municipal parking lot. When the Village repaved the parking lot in 2005, the grass border along the street was enlarged to cover the original site of the Dominy House. Remnants of the stone foundation document the exact original location that the shops will be returned to.
Dominy House stone foundation. Photo, October 19, 2017.
The site will be prepared by restoring the historic grade, which was built up when the parking lot was excavated and soil was pushed onto the grass border. Two Norway maple trees and one Eastern white pine tree will be removed. A chain-link fence that is four feet into the Village property will be removed and replaced with a picket fence on the property line. This picket fence will continue along the sidewalk.
Extensive field measurements and notes taken in 1940 by the Historic American Buildings Survey, along with historic photographs, guide restoration of the shops and allow an authentic reconstruction of the timber frame and exterior of the Dominy House. The house itself, built by Nathaniel Dominy IV (c.1770) and enlarged by Nathaniel Dominy V (c. 1805), contributes to an understanding of this family of craftsmen. The front façade with its overhanging molded cornice, beaded clapboards, molded window and door hoods and balanced composition convey their sense of style and their standing in the community.
The attached drawings detail the evidence for restoration of the shops, the proposed replication of the timber frame and exterior of the Dominy House and the proposed interior floor plan.
The following timeline gives an understanding of the events and of the efforts of a number of people who have brought us this point.
1770 – Nathaniel Dominy IV (1737-1812) built a new house on North Main Street, c. 1805. Characteristics of the timber frame and the Georgian elements of the cornice molding, window and door hoods and beaded clapboards all indicate a construction period around 1770. A woodworking shop was added to the north end of the house in 1791 and a clock shop was built against the south wall in 1798. About 1805 the house was expanded to the north adding a first-floor parlor and a second-floor bedroom.
1940 – Two architects, Daniel Hopping and Carl Stoye, recorded the Dominy House for the Historic American Buildings Survey. Their survey (Field Note Books containing 93 pages of drawings and notations) along with photographs are archived in the Library of Congress.
1941 – Charles “Puff” Dominy sold the family house to Oscar Brill in November. On December 18th, Mayor Judson Banister appealed to East Hampton residents to raise $6000 to purchase the Dominy House “for the purpose of a museum.” The Mayor’s letter appeared in the East Hampton Star next to an article on the attack on Pearl Harbor eleven days earlier. This was a difficult time for a campaign to save the Dominy House.
1946 – Demolition of the Dominy House began after tools had been removed by a Southampton antiques dealer. Dudley Roberts returned from Mexico City where he had worked for the State Department at the U.S. Embassy when demolition was just underway and immediately purchased the clock shop and woodworking shop. He moved them to Further Lane and joined them together to create a clubhouse.
1958 – Winterthur Museum discovered the collection of Dominy tools and artifacts at the Southampton antique shop and decided to use this singular complete collection to interpret the lives of early American craftsmen. Winterthur attempted to purchase the clock shop and woodworking shop from Dudley Roberts who turned them down believing they should stay in East Hampton. Winterthur instead built replicas of the shops.
1966 – Dudley Roberts gave the shops to his neighbors, Theodore and Elizabeth Weicker, who moved them a short distance to the east.
2005 – Chris Browne, who had purchased the Weicker property in 2001, responded to an inquiry by Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. and offered to give the Dominy Shops to the Village when he redeveloped the property. In 2004 the Village had purchased the IGA parking lot on North Main Street. At that time most of the Dominy House site was covered by pavement. When the Village repaved the parking lot in 2005, the grass area on the street was widened by 26 feet to include the footprint of the Dominy House, in anticipation of the gift. Sadly, Chris Browne passed away in 2009 before plans for his Further Lane property and a gift of the Dominy Shops were realized.
2013 – The Village designated the Dominy Shops in the Timber Frame Landmarks program providing some control over their future.
2016 – The new owner of the Weicker property, 62FL, LLC, donated the Dominy Shops to the Village along with a grant of $300,000 toward their restoration.
Courtesy of Robert Hefner, Director of Historic Services, Incorporated Village of East Hampton.
Dominy Shops, 73 North Main Street, East Hampton
Dominy House photo courtesy of the East Hampton Historical Society
— PROJECT IN PROCESS —
Village of East Hampton: www.easthamptonvillage.org
Plans courtesy of Robert Hefner, Director of Historic Services, Incorporated Village of East Hampton.