81-82 South Midway Road, Shelter Island, NY 11964
Saunders Exclusive: $14,995,000
When it comes to Hamptons real estate, it’s all about the land. You simply cannot find better dirt anywhere in the world than the land that exists on the East End. Typically, if you are looking to buy a property out here, anything over an acre is considered a lot, but Penelope Moore has a listing located at 81-82 South Midway Road on Shelter Island, that consists of a tremendous 22.95 acres in a setting that is so magical and so historical, it’s hard to believe.
“It’s all really, really fascinating in terms of its history,” Penelope explains. “In 1698, George Havens came to Shelter Island and bought one thousand acres from Nathanial Sylvester II whose father claimed ownership of Shelter Island. This property was part of those thousand acres. Over the last 271 years there have only been two other families there, the Tuthills and the Robbs who are its current owners.”
The pre-Revolutionary War, wood shingled colonial which was built circa 1750 is named “Kemah”, a Shinnecock word meaning “in the face of the wind” because of its prevailing southwest breezes. With two separate waterfront lots, there are 17.35 elevated acres with 385 +/- feet on Great Fresh Pond to the north side, and over 5.6 acres of meadow with 596 +/- feet on Peconic Bay looking south toward Bridgehampton.
Obadiah Havens, who was a member of the Provincial Government and 1st Lieutenant of the Militia during the Revolutionary War, once lived at Kemah. During the British occupation of Shelter Island and the East End, Obadiah fled to Connecticut to continue his work as a Patriot from there.
“Kemah was vital to Native Americans who accessed fresh drinking water on Fresh Pond,” Moore said. “From where Midway Road is now, they graded and then constructed a large berm, which is still visible today, to protect the freshwater from saltwater intrusion. They also dug a channel where canoes were kept hidden from other tribes.”
The patriarch of the family who currently owns the property, John Donald Robb was a “true renaissance man.” Moore said, “He bought Kemah during the Great Depression while his wife was on a cruise. From the 1930s through the 1950s, Robb traveled throughout the world interviewing and recording the chants of indigenous people. The 3000 plus field recordings are now in an archive bearing his name at the University of New Mexico. Without his keen interest, the songs he recorded would have been forever lost.” Also a composer, Robb’s music studio, affectionately called “the chicken coop” is still there on the property. “He and his wife Hattie thrived at Kemah,” Moore said, “they had thirty sheep that grazed in the fields. He shorn their wool, dyed it with pigments from fruit and berries on the property, then wove blankets and sweaters using the spinning wheels that are still in the house.”
The two-story barn built in 1886, where the sheep were housed, is magnificent and completely unique to Shelter Island. It has thick wooden plank floors with large beams that run up to two lofts with doors on all sides of the structure. “If someone wanted to build a main house from the barn, they could create something spectacular,” Moore said.
Some homes say that they are historic, but on Shelter Island, the history is brought to a whole other level. It is the ultimate historic estate on an incredible amount of land. Penelope goes on to explain, “In many ways the property is like a mini version of Sylvester Manor, it’s just so magical. When you walk the property today, because the foliage has dropped with the winter and there are no leaves on the trees, you can really see the contours and what you are getting with the land. Few properties epitomize the history of the East End of Long Island the way that Kemah does,” Moore said. “When you walk through the grounds, in the barn and in the home, and then gaze out onto the water, there is a real sense that this land has seen countless historic events and great people over its nearly 300 years.”
This is a must-see property. It is just an unbelievable amount of land to own, it’s truly your own fairy tale world on Shelter Island.
For more information, visit www.hamptonsrealestate.com.