To update 25 Jobs Lane — the site that housed the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton Village for a century — architects plan to turn back the clock on the building first.
Knowing for a couple years that the Parrish was headed for a new facility in Water Mill, Southampton Village has been working on coming up with a new use for the village-owned building that will keep it active year-round and serve as an attraction to downtown and the business district. To that end, the nonprofit Southampton Center for the Arts was created.
During a public meeting of the Southampton Village Board held at 25 Jobs Lane on March 26, architect Jorge Silvetti, of the Boston-based firm Machado & Silvetti Associates, told a crowd of interested village residents that the building has been disfigured over the years, inside and out, and neglected.
Silvetti said the galleries, which he seeks to preserve, were built in 1913, but later annexes depart from the original architecture. “The architecture begins to be of a different kind — but not of a kind that I think the building is proud of,” he said.
The architects are recommending additions made in the 1950s and later be removed so the building can be restored to its 1913 perimeter — designed by famed architect Grosvenor Atterbury — before new construction begins.
The existing building area is 19,271 square feet, but will grow to 30,485 square feet, with 75 percent of the new construction being underground, Silvetti said.
The original theater wing, from 1902, is also to be preserved and updated, dipping farther underground, to accommodate nearly 180 seats, about 40 more than are there now. The underground will also accommodate the mechanical infrastructure that will keep the building up and running and climate controlled, Silvetti said. Many of the big machines that have been added over the years to serve the building have cropped up outside, because there has been no place else to fit them, he said, showing photos of central air conditioning units to illustrate how unsightly appliances can be on the grounds.
One way the building's interior has been disfigured, according to Silvetti, is with unsightly ramps between sections of the buildings that have different floor heights. His firm's plan calls for keeping the floor at the same level throughout the building, so ramps or stairs are not needed to get to one room from the next.
The architects are also calling for stucco to be removed so original brickwork and doors can be visible again, and Silvetti said the slate roof will be restored.
Mayor Mark Epley said the plan started with the Southampton Center for the Arts Founders Committee, a group of village officials, business people and community-minded residents who want to see the building become a place for locals to enjoy as well as a major attraction for visitors.
"We developed some guiding principles behind what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Epley said.
The founders committee sought the preservation and restoration of the building, with flexible spaces that can accommodate many kinds of programming, including performances, visual displays and educational activities.
Led by Whitney Stevens, the committee is planning a "sampler season" of programming this summer, and taking suggestions from the public. Epley said ideas should be sent to his Village Hall office.
The vision for the future of 25 Jobs Lane not only includes its look and uses, but also making it a centerpiece of the village, both culturally and literally. Silvetti displayed plans intended to make 25 Jobs Lane visible from all sides and have, essentially, two front entrances.
Currently, the rear of the property abuts the West Main Street municipal parking lot. But plans call for a new road that runs behind 25 Jobs Lane dubbed Parrish Lane, which would use some of the existing West Main Street and connect with Windmill Lane.
Also to make 25 Jobs Lane more visible with also protecting the building from further disrepair, trees and bushes that are up against the building will be removed, Silvetti said, though he added that the ground's arboretum will be preserved.
Epley said the village is reaching out and building relationships with arts institutions, including Peconic Public Broadcasting. He said WPPB 88.3 FM, which is currently located on Hill Street, could move its studios into 25 Jobs Lane once the building is restored.
Construction is anticipated to begin in 2014, though the date could change based on how fundraising efforts perform.
Epley said they are still in the process of determining how much money the project will require for completion.
Earlier plans for a pavilion on the grounds of the building are up in the air. The plan was to have an outdoor venue at 25 Jobs Lane for cultural activities while the restoration of the building was ongoing, so the site does not go dormant. That plan also depended on donations.