A former whaling port in New York’s Hamptons, Sag Harbor boasts an extraordinary amount of very old residences. In fact, the historic village on Long Island Sound has more 17th century residences than anywhere else in the country. This place, ancient but not nearly as old as some, was built by Lieutenant Colonel John Hulbert between 1780 and 1790. A local hero of the Revolutionary War, Hulbert is believed by some to have designed the first stars and stripes flag in America.
Over the past decade, Hulbert’s old house was extensively renovated by William Richmond-Watson, who leads the Watson & Company branding and advertising agency. When purchased in 2013 for $1.75 million, it was a falling-apart mess divided into multiple apartments. However, the property’s superb location along prestigious Captains Row, known for the large houses whaling captains built in the 18th century, justified the price.
Now, after many years of renovations and approvals from the very strict local architectural boards, the property has sold for $12 million, $500,000 over the asking price, to an anonymous LLC. Listing agent was Rylan Jacka at Sotheby’s International Realty.
Outside the house, a flagpole proudly flies the American flag, and a plaque details that Hulbert led a militia that “designed and carried the first stars and stripes as their official flag during the Revolutionary War.” In the summer of 1775, the British army were occupying Boston, to punish the city for its tea party, as well as upstate New York. Hulbert, then age 37, was asked to head up New York’s third militia to help liberate the Champlain area from the British. They did. Afterwards, the soldiers marched the British prisoners down to New Jersey while carrying a 13-star, 13-stripe flag. A century and a half later, in 1926, a tattered old flag was found in another house once lived in by Hulbert. It’s uncertain whether this flag, now owned by a local historical society and pictured below, was the one carried by the militia, but it may well be true.
Hulbert’s former house is a now a relaxed mix of 18th century and 21st century updates. The main house measures about 5,000 square feet with a wraparound covered porch. Exposed wooden beams maintain a historic, rustic air, while high ceilings, so different from Hulbert’s day, and enormous windows give a modern, bright atmosphere. In total, the property offers six bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms between the three-story main house and one-bed/one-bath poolside guest house.
Set on almost three-quarters of an acre and ringed by mature trees, the grassy back yard includes expansive bluestone patios, a 40-foot pool and hot tub, an outdoor shower, and an outdoor fireplace.
All in all, it’s quite nice — nice enough that someone paid a fortune for it — and about as far as one can get from Hulbert’s illustrious, though much-less-luxe 18th-century lifestyle.