Last week, East Hampton Village voted to purchase the James Lane property of Olney Mairs “Bill” Gardiner in that village for $9.6 million. This is the best thing that has happened to this historic village in years. There are three historic wooden windmills on Main Street, East Hampton. Two are on public greens, one at the village-owned triangle by North Main Street at the east end of town, the second on the village-owned Mulford Farm property opposite the cemetery, pond and town green by the library at the west end of town and the third, tucked away on James Lane, across from Town Pond on this nearly four-acre farm owned by Olney Mairs Gardiner.
East Hampton prides itself as one of the most beautiful villages in America. It’s old elm trees hang over the broad Main Street and Woods Lane, the old Clinton Academy is fully restored, as are many of the other historic buildings on Main Street, and the village green at the eastern end of town has expanded with the purchase of the old Mark R. Buick car dealership from Generosa Ammon (after the murder of her husband more than 10 years ago). After that purchase, the village tore down the dealership building, and it is now an extended part of the green at the east end of town.
And now the western end of Main Street has this major historic improvement. The Gardiner farmhouse is a historic structure and the Gardiner family is the founding family in the town. The family has owned the private Gardiner’s Island since 1639, and most of the Gardiners are buried in the cemetery across the street. One house was a “summer White House” during the Presidency of James Tyler.
Most important is the saving of the Gardiner Mill. It is one of the very last of our 11 windmills here on the East End, still in private hands. And now it is just a short walk from “Home Sweet Home,” and the windmill there, the Mulford Farm—often the site of fairs and historic military encampments—and, just across the street, 60 feet away, Town Pond.
The East Hampton Library had its ribbon cutting for the new children’s wing across the way and, further down Main Street, the Thomas Moran home, the fabulous Victorian structure built by this nationally known artist at the turn of the 20th century, continues toward the completion of its full restoration.