By Janis Seminara
The restoration of Captain Jedediah Hawkins house in Jamesport is a metaphor for promise and punctuates history as a fluid, living foundation; a portal to the future and a true gift for the present. From South Jamesport Avenue, the home is radiant against the beautiful autumn foliage, nested as if a crowned jewel in the bosom of the North Fork town of Jamesport.
The one hundred and forty two year old house was poised on the fringe of extinction. Two men with a passion borne from the tales their father's once shared with them in their youth, refused to allow Hawkin's House to vanish with a wrecker's ball. Dr. Frank Arena and Mr. Jeff Hallock took on the dream to restore this gem of Jamesport, once one of the fanciest homes of its era in the late 19th century. This restoration is for the benefit of
Central Suffolk Hospital
and is the first Designers Showcase of the North fork. For any of you who are not familiar with a designer's showcase, when restoring a home, each room is assigned to different designer teams and they showcase their work by re-decorating the space. The Hawkins House in particular, is an impressive restoration because of how each designer embraced the history and energy of this once renowned home and created a contemporary legacy for all to share.
The Hawkin's House Designers Showcase has been opened since September nineteenth, and has had a rich calendar of events since its opening; cooking classes, craft lessons, opera singing and cultural seminars of Long Island history including Long Island Author Monica Randall's lecture of treasures found in the abandoned trunks of the Long Island Gold Coast, (I have been to this very moving, interesting lecture and it is a must see for Long Island history enthusiasts). I visited the house on October 30th, which was to be the last day of the showcase; however, due to such a great response, they have extended the date till November 6th. I was fortunate enough to visit, not only on such a stellar day weather-wise, but because many of the decorators were present which gave me the unique opportunity to discuss the creative process of their assigned space.
The over thirty decorators here have in a sense been like mediums, translating the energy of this house and releasing its spirit. I read on the website that there have been claims made by historians that this house was part of the Underground Railroad. If that proves to be true, I imagine it could explain how hope and happiness embedded itself in the very foundations of the home. Many of the decorators achieved a creative juxtaposition by embracing what was organic to the space, either thru structure or materials and blended them with contemporary ambiance.
A great example of this is how designer Patrick Falco transformed the halls, foyer and staircase into an art gallery full of modern day pieces by Long Island and international artists. Mr. Falco displayed John Digby's work, which reflects great pieces of literature and poetry, along the entire hallway wall on the second floor. The collection is based on Dante's, Inferno, and was created from intricate pieces of handmade paper cut-outs, posted and displayed shadowbox like. There is one traditional piece poised over a stunning burled secretary desk of a Bellport, Long Island matron. Some original pieces were used throughout the house giving a nod to its historic relevance. Mr. Falco's design perfectly depicts the combination of past, present and future by offering abstract effects of poetry in motion, now present in this once rustic home.
Vincent Paganelli Interiors, Ltd., created a wine cellar by using old bricks from the property as the floor and panels from and old barn as wall space and columns. The experience of this room is a wonderful cross between old and new. Giavanni Naso created a sitting room and bath on the second floor inspired by chocolate. The room is deliciously rich in chocolate ultra suede walls and artful elegance. And the attic, designed by Maureen Ann Daly, was absolutely magical. Every nook and cranny of this attic was transformed with Parisian flair. This design transcends the notion of attic into living space via creative intent and design. Attic's have been depicted in literature of places of high thought, and or spirituality. Maureen Ann Daley has truly authored this room into a sacred space.
Back in the 19th century, the Hawkin's house didn't have any bathrooms within the home. Decorators, MaryKathryn Scott, Jared Hallock and Beth Koroleski redefined the 'outhouse; into a 'Necessary' room by creating a Zen atmosphere. Their artful touch, so in tune with the nature surrounding the house is yet another show of keeping in touch with history in a contemporary way.
I wish I could go on in detail about every room, the landscaping or the masonry of this restoration, but I can tell you that all of it resounds of celebration and vision. And for a breathtaking finish of your tour, The Belvedere Room upstairs from the attic offers a panoramic view of Jamesport in a cozy space for sipping wine and literally toasting the town.
After the Hawkin's House completes its debut as a designer Showcase, it will become a premiere Bed & Breakfast and Restaurant. Some of the rooms will be altered to accommodate guests, but the flavor and overall designs of the rooms will remain. In this way, Captain Jedediah Hawkins House once again rises as one of the grandest homes on the North Fork, opening its doors to the future generations of Long Islanders who wish to indulge in a bit of history and longevity. Upon leaving, I turned around to take another look at the house, and it was almost as if I could hear it singing, "Happy days are Here Again". Bravo to all who have participated and contributed to this exceptional endeavor.
You still have time to visit, thru November 6, 2005. Don't miss it!
Captain Jedediah Hawkins' House
400 South Jamesport Avenue
Jamesport, NY 11947
To learn more about the history of the Hawkins house and for directions, go to
. The Web site provides a history of the Hawkin's family, a wealth of information and pictures of the actual restoration in progress. On your drive back home, enjoy the lush Long Island farms and the beauty of Long Island autumn.
For more information about
Central Suffolk Hospital
their facilities, or making a donation please visit their Web site.
Captain Hawkins' House photo courtesy of Jim Lennnon of Brenner Lennon Photography