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Jupiter Hammon home in Huntington may land historic status

The Town of Huntington is considering placing a

The Town of Huntington is considering placing a historic designation on the last home of Jupiter Hammon, the first African-American writer to be published in the United States. The home is pictured on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Town of Huntington is considering placing a historic designation on the last home of Jupiter Hammon, the first African-American writer to be published in the United States.

Hammon's home -- at 73 West Shore Rd. in Huntington -- was built between 1790 and 1795, and purchased by his great-nephew in 1799. The 1800 census lists Hammon as head of the household, Robert C. Hughes, the town's historian, said.

"It's a house the preservation commission has had its eye on for a while for its historic and architectural merit," Hughes said. "It was the last home of Jupiter Hammon, which makes it even more important."

The home is now privately owned and being rented.

The owner has agreed to keep the home intact, even if he develops other parts of the property, Hughes said.

To receive the designation, the home must meet certain criteria, such as possessing special character for historic or aesthetic interests; be connected with a historic person and have a unique location, or singular physical characteristic, landscape or streetscape.

The town's historic preservation commission is making the recommendation for the designation of the building, which also has some architectural significance. "It's a working-class dwelling that shows some evidence of a combination of construction techniques using English and Dutch [styles]," Hughes said. "It speaks to the evolution of Huntington in the early settlement that this was really an international area."

Hammon was born into slavery in nearby Lloyd Neck in October 1711.

His first poem was published in 1761. Titled "An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Crienes," it was published with this note: "Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen's Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760."

He published three other poems and three essays, and is considered one of the founders of African-American literature.

A public hearing on the measure has been scheduled during the Oct. 21 monthly town board meeting, which opens at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, 100 Main St. If approved, the designation would include some sort of signage and restrictive covenants on changes to the home.

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