Parsons is a name that echoes down the centuries since the founding of the Long Island town of East Hampton. In 1676, for example, the then governor of New York demanded that all new settlers to the area be allowed thirty acres of land. A number of local landowners complained, among them Samuel Parsons. By 1880, when this farmhouse was built for Julius Parsons, seven generations of Parsons had already lived in East Hampton.
A former working farm, the almost 11-acre property on which Julius’s house sits is one of one of the largest parcels of land available in the neighborhood known as Springs. The historic homestead has come available via listing agents Jenny Landey and Zack Dayton at Sotheby’s International Realty at $6.97 million. The property is being sold by Julius’s great-grandsons, Cleon Dodge and Carter Dodge, who lived in the house as children and inherited it in 2008 upon the passing of their mother, Mary Louise Edwards Dodge.
Besides horses, cows, pigs and chickens, the farm also had a blacksmith shop and an ice house. Julius also kept the Springs General Store, which was and remains just around the corner from his house on Springs Fireplace Road. The store, which opened in 1847, is where Jackson Pollack, who lived nearby, once traded a painting for groceries. It is still considered the heart of the hamlet, and was sold just this summer.
Life was different for the hard-working farmers of the Springs area versus the wealthy folks who built enormous summer mansions nearer the ocean. The Parsons farm on Springs Fireplace Road was self-sufficient. There was plenty of trees to chop down for firewood and several nearby bays and inlets for fishing and clamming. The Parsons family also did business with the Gardiner family, who owned — and still own — a six-mile-long island just off the shore. Springs Fireplace Road got its name because of the freshwater spring that feeds what’s known locally as Pussy’s Pond, after a woman who was known as Pussy Parsons, and because because in an era without telephones, a fire would be built on the beach at the end of the road to signal boats to come or go from Gardiner’s Island.
Fronted by a pair of porches, the charmingly unpretentious 2,800-square-foot farmhouse has six bedrooms but just two bathrooms. The original mahogany spindled staircase is a little bit finer than might be expected, while the pillared front porch leads to a spacious double parlor with edge grain pine floors. The deep lot, which includes a family cemetery, is now filled with mature maples. There is also a large barn and a studio, and the sale includes a .96-acre vacant lot that could be built upon.
Of course, any new owner will want to make some (and probably significant) upgrades and modernizations. However, the property is located in a historic district so exterior renovations and additions are subject to review by the town. Many locals, who include lots of Parsons and their descendants, hope the next owners will celebrate the history of the property as they create their own new legacy compound for future generations.