A July 21 public hearing has been set on a proposal to designate the 19th century Fowler house — the only Montaukett Indian tribe home still standing in East Hampton Town — as a local historic landmark.
Town planner Marguerite Wolfsohn made the recommendation Tuesday during the town board’s regular work session.
Wolfsohn said that by designating the dilapidated house at 95 Springs Fireplace Rd. in the Freetown area as a town landmark, board members could move ahead with year-old plans to restore it.
“They need to recognize it [as a landmark] and that gives them the powers to protect it,” Wolfsohn said.
Landmark status would also help with funding a restoration, she said.
The long-vacant house, which sits on a 1.7-acre site, is in such disrepair that the roof has collapsed. The last occupants died in the 1980s.
East Hampton Town Board members agreed in February 2015 to preserve the house.
“Hopefully this [a public hearing] will move the process forward in our attempt to try to save it,” Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Tuesday.
“It’s an important symbol of Montaukett history,” Wolfsohn said.
Wolfsohn showed the board photographs of the house, including one with a small rosebush struggling to grow by the front porch that she said could be among the plants that also may date to the 19th century.
Wolfsohn noted that George L. Fowler, for whom the house is named, was a gardener and gondolier to the family of the celebrated artist Thomas Moran.
“Yes, there was apparently a gondola in East Hampton at one time,” Wolfsohn said.
The Fowler House is among a handful of cottages where Montaukett families settled in the late 1800s, after they were evicted from their ancestral home by developer Arthur Benson, who began transforming Montauk into a resort in 1879, historians said.
Wolfsohn said the house and the property are of great historical significance as “a valued part of the cultural, historic, economic and social history of the town.”
A restoration, she said, would also help tell a story rarely told.
“History tends to record the wealthy and powerful,” Wolfsohn said. “George Fowler was neither, and we have much less information about the ordinary and poor people in our history.”
The hearing is to be held at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 159 Pantigo Rd.