A 127-year-old Flanders farmhouse is drawing attention — but not for its history.
The former Samuel Griffing farmhouse on Flanders Road — a property that once housed the community’s first duck farm — is making headlines because it is being painted the colors of the American Flag.
So far, red stripes have been painted on the side of the white building that faces the road. Property owner Marie Tooker said she intends to finish the job by painting the blue portion of the flag, complete with stars.
“The flag is a sign of hope,” Ms. Tooker said, adding that the blue part of the flag will be movable so it can appear upside down as a symbol of a nation in distress.
“When people are under duress, when a child dies from heroin, or something tragic happens in Suffolk County, I will put the flag upside down,” she said.
The house does not have any kind of official historic designation, though it is mentioned in Southampton Town’s Flanders Hamlet Heritage Area report, issued in April 2014 by members of the Landmarks and Historic Districts Board.
That report said the structure was built in 1890 by Samuel Griffing, whose father bought the land in 1861. He “established Flanders’ first duck farm on this site in 1884,” the report states. “In addition to the farmhouse and barn that are visible from Flanders Road, several period outbuildings also survive on the property, which is also known as ‘Methodist Point.’ ”
Janice Young of Flanders, a member of Southampton Town’s landmarks board, said there isn’t much the board can do about that painting that’s being done at the Griffing house. Even seeking its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, which would place regulations and restrictions on the property, would require the approval of the homeowner, she said.
The Griffing house is considered a “historic resource,” Ms. Young said, but that only means the landmarks board must be consulted before it can be torn down..
“I was horrified,” she said of the paint job. “I think it’s awful. It’s defacing a historic structure. We’re working very hard at trying to bring attention to these beautiful houses and hopefully bring them back to their former glory.”
“I thought it was some sort of coastal navigation beacon when I first saw it,” said Thomas Campanella, a professor of architecture at Cornell University, who was visiting the Big Duck Wednesday.
Ron Fisher, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association said he hasn’t heard much feedback about the house, other than through posts on a popular Facebook site called “Flanders, Riverside and Northampton residents united for positive change.”
“It was a topic on Facebook, but it was literally split,” Mr. Fisher said.
“Some people said mind your own business and some people said it’s terrible,” he said.
People are also taking notice of another display Ms. Tooker is responsible for. At a 130-acre farm on Middle Country Road in Calverton she has placed a semi trailer with the words “I love you, God. Thank you” on the side. She also plans to add a flag that can be displayed upside down at that property as well, she said.
“The whole world is stopping and they are taking pictures of it,” Ms. Tooker said of the trailer.
Though she has been involved in a foreclosure proceeding on the Calverton property since 2011, she said she hopes to build a home for veterans at the site. Before 2011, Ms. Tooker held a number of public events on the Calverton land, including a carnival, an Irish festival and a concert by rapper Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC.