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Item of the Week: A Summer Residence in the Dunes

Thu, 02/24/2022 - 09:40

From the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection

This postcard from the Harvey Ginsberg Postcard Collection shows a summer cottage belonging to Benjamin Franklin Evans (1843-1913) on the dunes at Lily Pond Lane. Evans grew up in Ohio, where he married Harriet Cassard Bonbright (1847-1933) in 1869. They started a family and later moved east to Morristown, N.J., where they made their permanent residence.

In November of 1912, Evans hired an East Hampton architect, John Custis Lawrence (1867-1944), to come up with plans for his new summer residence on the dunes next to Lily Pond Lane. Smith and Davis, builders from East Hampton, constructed it. At the time, the house was considered one of the largest in the neighborhood. Its front was 127 feet, and there were 19 rooms inside. The final cost ran to more than $18,000.

Evans never saw his finished summer house, however, as he died just days after its completion in May of 1913. His wife arrived to live there in June. At the end of the summer season that year, The East Hampton Star ran a lengthy article discussing the house’s lavish amenities, including an image of Harriet Evans’s living room, showing fashionable decor such as wicker furniture and oriental rugs. The second floor had four bedrooms and three suites with their own connecting bathrooms, another modern amenity. The servants’ quarters had five bedrooms with one bathroom and an additional room for storage.

Mayra Scanlon is a librarian and archivist in the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.

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