Donate to the Nathaniel Rogers House Restoration!
It's hard not to notice the old
house that lies on the southeast corner of Montauk Highway and
Ocean Road, just past the Bridgehampton Monument. It stands alone,
melting into the landscape with its two-storied columns held more
or less in place with two by four boards. Few, perhaps, know the
history of this extraordinary building, or the case for restoration
of this once magnificent structure. The Nathaniel Rogers House
is important for its architectural significance, its critical
location, its rich history, and its potential as a repository
for the history of Greater Bridgehampton.
To some it is known as the Hopping House, and to others as the
Hampton House, but it is rightfully named after the visionary
who created its architecture. The monumental Greek Revival temple
front, the grand setting and the refined interior, products of
Nathaniel Rogers extensive remodeling in 1840, make this prominent
architectural landmark, listed on the National and New York State
Registers of Historic Places, one of the finest example of a residence
in this style in New York State.
As it stands today, the Nathaniel Rogers House represents three
historic construction periods: the original house built by Abraham
T. Rose about 1824; the remodeling by Nathaniel Rogers about 1840;
and the extensive interior renovations and modest exterior additions
by the Hedges and Hopping families for the Hampton House hotel
following their purchase of the house in 1894.
Rogers, an accomplished artist, was
born in Bridgehampton in 1787, grandson of a famous patriot of
the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the American Academy
and a founding member of the National Academy of Art and Design.
He is said to have had a hand in some of the design of the Bridgehampton
Presbyterian Church, and by his retirement, he had painted most
of the New York City fashionables of his day. Nathaniel Rogers
died in 1844, shortly after the remodeling of his house was complete.
The house remained in his family's hands until 1857.
Subsequently, it was sold to Captain James R. Huntting, an extraordinarily
successful whaling captain, and then, in 1873, the Hunttings sold
the house to Mary S. DeBost, wife of Augustus B. DeBost who with
his brother Leon ran DeBost Brothers dry goods business in New
York. Leon D. DeBost was a founder of the Southampton summer colony.
A decade later, they leased their home to E. P. Storm who operated
it as the ‘Hampton House,’ a boarding house, from
at least 1886 to 1888.
In 1894, new owners, John Hedges and Frank Hopping
transformed the by-then somewhat rundown residence into the most
elegant Inn in Bridgehampton. Their fifty-year period of operating
the Hampton House hotel has made that name part of Bridgehampton
lore. The house operated as an inn until 1949.
The last inn-keeper, Caroline Hopping, leased the front yard
to a gas station in 1952. She died later that year, and at her
death, the assessment of the property read “a house which
is very old and in run-down condition.” For the next half
century, it was the residence of James B. Hopping and his family.
Its life had been evenly divided between a grand
residence and famous inn, until the Bridgehampton Historical Society
purchased it and donated it to the Town of Southampton, maintaining
a long-term stewardship of the building. Their goal is to make
the Nathaniel Rogers House once again a landmark and a facility
that will serve as the headquarters of the Bridgehampton Historical
Society and as a cultural resource center for the community. They
are working closely with the Town of Southampton in their preservation
Ultimately the house will encompass a visitor's welcoming area,
a gift shop, exhibition spaces, a research and study area with
computerized retrieval systems, archival collections of photos,
maps and documents, recording space for the ongoing documentation
of community memories and administrative space.