At the recommendation of its project engineer, D.B. Bennett, the East Hampton Town Board has rejected the latest bids to complete Phase III restoration work at Montauk’s historic Second House and museum.
Bids were solicited between Aug. 11 and Oct. 11 last year but were “too high,” Councilman David Lys said by email. Mr. Lys is the board’s liaison to the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee.
“The Second House bid was rejected because the bids came in at amounts that were way over the engineer’s estimated cost to complete,” he said. “The town is preparing to split apart certain aspects of this previous [request for proposals] that has been rejected, in order to keep the project moving ahead with the funding that is currently available.”
The board is working with the Montauk Historical Society to chart a path forward, he added, and will rebid the project for remaining “mechanical and electrical installation work there.”
The Historical Society manages the on-site museum, which remains closed as repairs continue.
As inflationary pressures slowly ease, Mr. Lys said he hopes the town might now “get some better prices on this, too.”
The town undertook renovations at the historic site — Second House is the hamlet’s oldest extant structure — following a 2016 report from the architectural historian Robert Hefner. He concluded that the building, built in 1797, was “at a crossroads” and in need of a wide range of repairs.
Mr. Hefner reported that an “infestation of racoons and other animals in the attic and cellar has made the cellar inaccessible and has tainted the air to make the interior inhospitable to visitors. The timber frame, especially the sills and first-floor frame, has significant deterioration. Electrical wiring and plumbing are obsolete. A minimal work program would include: cleaning up from the animal infestation; testing for and removing material containing asbestos; repairing the timber frame, and installing new plumbing, electrical, and possibly an HVAC system. Since this work would disturb so much of the exterior shingles, framing, foundation, interior plaster and interior floors, now is the time to carefully consider the future of the Second House.”
Many of the needed repairs have been completed in the six years since.
In January 2019 the town board accepted a $453,442 bid from Ronald Webb Builder of East Hampton for the Phase I restoration of the building’s foundation and some of its flooring, and the removal of non-historical additions. Phase II included the removal of exterior features such as cladding, siding, and some gables. Phase III will complete the restoration of the exterior.
The Montauk Historical Society had declared in 2022 that “we expect the construction to be completed by the end of the year, and hope to reopen the museum in 2023.” The rejected Phase III bids, however, means it will be that much longer before Second House is again open to the public.