The Halsey House Gala was a bang heard ‘round the Hamptons. Literally.
Politicians, Third New York militia musketeers and history buffs alike joined together on Saturday, July 6, at The Thomas Halsey Homestead to raise money for an extremely local cause, the Southampton Historical Museum.
“We hold the gala the first Saturday in July,” said Tom Edmunds, director of The Thomas Halsey Homestead. “We use the money for education, programs…” The homestead museum offers classes in cooking, blacksmithing and more. The gala annually aims to raise around $40,000 or $50,000.
The house itself dates back to the 1640s when non-Puritan pioneers fled religious persecution in Massachusetts Bay and found themselves with a farming community in Southampton. Originally a farmhouse, the homestead became a mansion and found itself in the possession of the BiddleDukes in the 1800s. It went up for sale in 1956. Henry Francis DuPont, who ran a museum in Washington D.C. found backers including Henry Ford II. The homestead began to celebrate Southampton history when it opened its doors to the public in the 1960s.
Nowadays, the annual backyard gala attracts the likes of Mayor Mark Epley and Congressman Tim Bishop.
“Everyone thinks of the glitz of the Hamptons but it’s families like the Halsey family,” Epley said. While Southampton’s main businesses are now realty and tourism, the first town profits were really derived from farming and welling.
Congressman Tim Bishop goes to support local traditions and to see old friends.
“Those who attend more often than not have been part of Southampton for many generations,” Bishop said.
Circling around the backyard of The Halsey Homestead from the drink station to the sushi bar and seafood station to tall and short cocktail tables, guests caught up with old friends and town council candidate Jim Mansfield. Others ventured over to the auction tent. A blue canopy with white Americana stars housed a private shopping night at Theory, cashmere lambskin-lined gloves, a bar stool from the Saint Moritz hotel and more.
Patrons walked around until randomly jumping in their boots. Musketeers from the Third New York militia stood adjacent to the tent in colonial garb. Despite a slightly dysfunctional musket, every few minutes Sergeant Nathan Corwin III fired a musket with Charles Eckert and Kristina Foster as his right-hand assistants.
“The musketeers add a very quaint touch,” said Victoria Kahn of Agawam Town and Village Realty who has attended every year with her friend, Gina Kuhlenkamp. “That’s why we come. It has been a tradition for us since 2007.”
As Grant Werner played old classics and the sun started to set over the historically-driven fundraiser, silent auctions wrapped up and patrons readied for the next portion to begin.
“It’s one of the best parties in the Hamptons,” Bishop said. “You can’t get a better cause than this.”
For more information about the Southampton Historical Museum visit www.southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.