Saving East Hampton’s First Artists’ Studio

Thomas Moran Studio in 2008

EAST HAMPTON’S MAIN STREET, formally laid out in 1648, is a) very pretty tree-lined boulevard with a pond full of the requisite swans, and b) a trove of historic sites. I admit to not having fully explored it yet. Some, like Mulford Farm and ‘Home Sweet Home,’ two of this country’s earliest examples of English colonial architecture, I ran to right away when I first bought a house here almost three years ago. Others I’m just finding out about.

Shoring-up efforts

Recently on NPR I heard a guest talking about the restoration of the Thomas and Mary Moran home and studio at 229 Main Street. Thomas (1837-1926) is known primarily as a painter of the American West in the Hudson River School style (his paintings of Yellowstone have hung in the White House and Capitol Building); his wife Mary Nimmo Moran (1842-1899) was an etcher and landscape painter. Turns out their 1884 cedar-shingled, Queen Anne-style home and studio — which I’d never really noticed, so overgrown is the property — across from the town pond and cemetery in which both are buried, was the first artists’ studio in East Hampton.

Thomas Moran, “Easthampton, Long Island”

It’s been a National Historic Landmark since 1965, but that hasn’t prevented it from succumbing to the ravages of time. It’s been unoccupied for the past eight years and some sections, on the verge of collapse, have been shored up, but much more work is needed.

Thomas Moran’s ink drawing of studio interior

Restoration and fund-raising efforts are ongoing. A fund-raiser in Manhattan — a one-night exhibition of the couples’ artwork at the Babcock Galleries, 724 Fifth Avenue — is scheduled for Tuesday, March 6. Tickets are $100. For more info, go here.

Hard to believe that in a province as wealthy as East Hampton, no government money or private benefactor has come forth in a big way, and that it must be such an uphill battle.

Etching by Mary Nimmo Moran

4 thoughts on “Saving East Hampton’s First Artists’ Studio

  1. The Thomas Moran Trust (link in post)…they’re trying to raise money to restore it. The last private owner died in 2004 and the house has been uninhabited since. Hopefully they will open it to the public, fully restored, at some point in the not-too-distant future.

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