East Hampton Historical Society’s Lecture Series: Historic Buildings ‘Tell Our Stories’

The Moran Studio
The artist Thomas Moran designed “a quirky Queen Anne-style studio cottage,” according to the East Hampton Historical Society, around 1884.
File photo

The South Fork is blessed with lots of character and charm thanks, in part, to historic preservation. For those who call the area home, it is easy to take these historic buildings for granted as we pass them in the hustle and bustle of our everyday.

As part of celebrating 100 years of the East Hampton Historical Society, its winter lecture series will focus on historic buildings that are so much a fabric of  East Hampton Village. “The History Behind the Facades: Our Buildings Tell Our Stories” kicks off on Friday, January 28, with the spotlight on the Thomas & Mary Nimmo Moran Studio. Historian Robert Hefner will be at the podium.

The theme of this year’s winter lecture series came about due to the village’s centennial celebration. “We decided we wanted to celebrate our beautiful historic buildings which are the largest artifacts we have in our collection,” said Barbara Borsack, the chairwoman of the series. “The lectures will focus both on their historical significance and their unique architectural significance — each has a story to tell and those stories will be interesting for people who may not be familiar with them to hear.”

East Hampton Historical Society
The East Hampton HIstorical Society’s Moran Studio in spring.Courtesy of the East Hampton Historical Society

The historic Moran house, built around 1884 across from Town Pond, was the home and studio of Thomas Moran, one of the most celebrated oil and watercolor artists of his time, and his wife Mary Nimmo Moran,a prominent landscape painter and printmaker.

Moran designed the home now heralded as the first artist’s studio built in East Hampton, marking the beginning of the artist colony on the East End. The “quirky Queen Anne-style studio cottage,” according to the historical society, is a National Historic Landmark and was restored over the last decade.

There will be four lectures, from Friday through April.

“I hope people will find a new sense of appreciation for the historical significance and architectural beauty of each of these buildings as well as perhaps develop a new awareness of the significant buildings all around town and the histories and stories they tell and why they are important to the story of East Hampton,” Borsack continued.

Borsack has been organizing the Friday night series for about 20 years, as a way to grab some of the weekenders arriving, as well as the locals who were looking for something to do on a Friday night in the doldrums of winter.

The society’s very first lecture in the series was called “Barn Again” about old barns being repurposed into local homes and was presented by Hefner, who has given many talks throughout the years and is back again for 2022’s first one on the Moran House. “He is so generous in sharing his extensive knowledge of our local history,” Borsack added.

“The series has had a loyal following and I love seeing the same faces every year in the audience. We’ve had so many interesting themes and engaging local speakers throughout the years it has been one of my favorite things to work on,” she said.

Last year, the lectures were held over Zoom due to the pandemic, and this year they have been moved to the East Hampton Library’s Baldwin Family Lecture Room, which allows for ample space to spread out. “I hope our friends will come back in person to join us,” Borsack said.

“The History Behind the Facades: Our Buildings Tell Our Stories” will continue on Friday, February 25, with a focus on the East Hampton Marine Museum. Jacqueline Marks is the speaker. The March 25 lecture is on Clinton Academy and the Schoolhouses with David Cataletto. Hilary Osborn-Malecki will speak about Mulford Farm on April 29.

All of the lectures begin at 7 p.m. and are free to the public.

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East Hampton Historical Society
Clinton AcademyBarbara Lassen