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Crew begins demolition of historic Brewster House in Flanders

The historic Brewster House on Flanders Road is now history.

Contractors hired by Southampton Town began taking down the bulk of the building Friday morning, after numerous plans to redevelop the structure have fallen through over the years.

The four-story building in Flanders is believed to be about 140 years old.

It was damaged in a fire in 1987 which was never repaired properly, leaving a hole in the roof, which led to water seeping into the building. 

“It’s beyond the point of saving it,” Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman told The News-Review earlier this year. “The sooner we take it down, the better.” 

Southampton Town acquired the property for $400,000 in June and will be responsible for removal of the demolition debris, and for the removal of any asbestos found on site, officials said.

The purchase was funded by Community Preservation Fund money. The CPF uses a voter approved 2% transfer tax to generate money for environmental projects and land preservation. 

A demolition crew at work Friday in Flanders. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Voters in a 2016 referendum allowed up to 20% of the CPF revenue to be used for water quality initiatives, which is the category the Brewster House purchase was made under, according to Mr. Schneiderman.

In 2016, a group called Restoration Equity unveiled an $8 million plan to renovate the building into a hotel, restaurant and pool. 

Two years later, they sold the building, citing opposition from neighbors. 

The property was sold in 2018 for $285,000 to a company called SSG RE Holders LLC, of Wilmington, N.C., which said at the time that it sought to sell the property, rather than to develop it. SSG then sold the property to Southampton Town.

According to town’s Flanders Hamlet Heritage Area, published in 2014, the building was previously owned by Captain Robert W. Penney and was operated as a hotel known as “Grove House.” 

It was converted to a boarding house in the 1920s and then as a police station in the 1950s.