It’s known as the 1693 house that was moved five times centuries ago before it settled in Sag Harbor -- now it's for sale by owner and grand slam tennis champ Guillermo Vilas.
What's the price of history? About $995,000 for the two-bedroom, two-bath house with radiant heat floors and detached studio/garage on .17 acres, says his real estate agent, Beth Troy of Town and Country Real Estate in Bridgehampton.
"It feels like a romantic cottage from the past," she says. "The beehive stove is there, the wide plank floors."
Vilas bought it in 2008 for $975,000, property records show. Now in his native Argentina, Vilas won both the French Open and U.S. Open in 1977 and then the Australian the following two years.
With a white picket fence, the house is in the village's historic district, but some history experts say there might not be much left from 1693 and that even calling it a 1693 house might be a stretch.
With fives moves, a lot of renovations and several centuries in the house's history, it's tough to pin down when the house was built.
But Zach Studenroth, director of the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, says it can be legitimately called 1693 only if the home's bones are that old. In many houses that old, he says, very little of the original remains. "Having a couple mantle pieces and a door from an old period does not make it a house from an old period," says Studenroth, who got his master's degree in historic preservation. "It's got to have the frame.
"For someone to be trotting out the 16 something or other date, my eyebrows go up because it's that unusual."
In his book, "Keeping Time in Sag Harbor," written for the village's 300th birthday in 2007, artist and historical writer Stephen Longmire calls it the "oldest house" in the village.
"I'm not aware of an older one," says Longmire, a former village resident. He says he took his information from books by two historians he trusts but isn’t sure if 1693 is accurate and if it’s backed by research. The date, he said, would be a “historical” nut to crack.
In the really old days, he says, it was not uncommon for people to move their homes because wood, used for everything from ship building to fires, could be a scarce commodity. Longmire believes the house got to Sag Harbor after 1750. That's the year of the oldest record showing the village's existing buildings, he says, and the Union Street house was not on it.
Vilas' house is known as a "half house" because centuries ago, most homes were built with five cuts or "bays" in the front exterior for doors and windows, the author says. This house has three bays, two for windows and one for the door.
But whether the little half house is from the 17th or 18th century, Longmire admires it for what it is and what it has not become.
"It's one of the very smallest houses in the village," he says. "This is one of the houses that has not been expanded beyond its original scale. That's something to be proud of. A lot of Sag Harbor houses of modest proportions have been maxed out with additions that are out of character and out of scale.
"These were simple houses for simple people. The fact that this is ground zero in Sag Harbor's historic district now makes it a rather fashionable address."
Town and Country Real Estate