A historic barn in East Hampton is reopening this weekend as a cultural center, hearkening back to the area’s rural and artistic histories.
The recently restored barn dates from 1890. For more than a half century, it stood on a farm several miles away.
In 1948, abstract-expressionist artist John Little bought the barn and moved it to Duck Creek Farm, in Springs, near the late 18th-century house to where he had just moved.
Little installed huge windows on the north wall of the barn to take advantage of the indirect light, so he could use the barn as a studio, said Robert Strada, executive director of the nonprofit Peconic Historic Preservation Inc., which East Hampton Town licensed to manage and maintain the barn.
He was one of a number of abstract-expressionist artists who lived within a few miles of each other in Springs, Strada said.
“Part of East Hampton’s history isn’t just the early roots and Colonial roots,” he said. “In fact, the roots of Abstract Expressionism took off in East Hampton and New York City.”
Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, James Brooks and Charlotte Park were among the other abstract-expressionist artists who lived nearby, Strada said.
The town bought and restored the 7.5-acre Duck Creek property for about $3.1 million from a five-town preservation fund, said Deputy Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc. Most of the land was purchased in 2005.
The barn’s dilapidated roof was replaced with cedar shingles on the outside and spruce laths on the inside. Most of the wood on the walls and beams is the original pine and oak, Van Scoyoc said.
“You can be on this property and look around, and you’re no longer in the 21st century,” he said. “You feel like it’s in the 1790s and you imagine what life would have been like.”
Concerts, films, poetry readings and dance and theater performances are among the events planned for the barn and the surrounding land.
The barn was scheduled to reopen Saturday night with a reception for an exhibition by East Hampton artist Sydney Albertini.
The barn will be open for the exhibition from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends through July 30. The entrance is on Squaw Road, just off Three Mile Harbor Hog Creek Road.