State Legislators File Legislation to Rehabilitate the Southampton Campus Windmill

Legislation would authorize partnership between Stony Brook University and the Town of Southampton to begin the long overdue effort to rehabilitate the Southampton Campus

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and New York State Senator Anthony Palumbo today filed legislation that would authorize the State University to enter into a long-term lease, not to exceed 100 years, with the Town of Southampton for the purpose of rehabilitating and restoring the Windmill on the Southampton campus.

The Windmill was constructed in 1714 and has been at its current location in Shinnecock Hills since 1888, when it was saved from destruction from its location in the Village of Southampton by Janet Hoyt, the wife of William Hoyt, the builder of the Shinnecock Inn. Janet Hoyt, together with Samuel Parrish, founded the Summer School of Art. It is the only windmill of three in Southampton Village that survived. It has been in its current location for 136 years.

In the summer of 1957, Tennessee Williams resided there when he wrote the play “The Day on Which a Man Dies” about the death of his friend Jackson Pollack. The Library Association of America officially designated the Windmill, at its current location, as a literary landmark in 2013.

In 1963, when Long Island University established Southampton College, the Windmill became the symbol of the new campus. The Windmill is beloved by thousands of former students, faculty, and administrators who rightly associate it with the very identity of the school. The College newspaper was aptly named “The Windmill.” The Windmill has been on everything related to the college including sports uniforms, yearbooks, apparel, and assorted memorabilia.

In 2006, Stony Brook University acquired the campus and has continued the legacy of providing quality education to the residents of eastern Long Island. In 2009, Stony Brook led the effort to rehabilitate the Windmill. The Windmill and the adjacent water view quad have been in continuous use hosting innumerable events, readings, receptions, orientations, celebrations, workshops, and fundraising dinners. The annual Windmill Lighting during the holiday season continues to be an East End tradition.

The current President of Stony Brook University has previously stated that “the Stony Brook University campus community is proud to be the caretaker of the windmill, a cherished historical icon that has existed in its current location for over a century".

However, in recent years, the Windmill has fallen into disrepair due to lack of maintenance and was condemned by the New York State Fire Marshal in 2023. It is imperative that this historic structure be rehabilitated and restored so that it can continue to be the “cherished historical icon” and symbol of the Southampton campus.

The partnership between the University and the Town would allow the Town Community Preservation Fund to be utilized to save the Windmill. This legislation would permit a similar partnership to the one between Southampton Town and the Village of Westhampton Beach to save the Dix Windmill in Westhampton Beach. Once the Town is granted a leasehold to the Windmill portion of the campus, the Town could utilize CPF funds to restore the Windmill.

Stony Brook University recently announced its intention at an Express Sessions event to take action to revitalize the Southampton campus. The University has hired a new Vice President who will oversee that effort and a community advisory committee has been promised to help with that task.

Thiele stated, “I have been encouraged by the University’s statements of its intent to create a new vision for the Southampton campus after years of neglect. By this legislation, we are telling the University that our community will put its money where its mouth is and will be full partners in that endeavor. The use of the CPF to save the historic structures on the campus is our way of demonstrating the community’s commitment to the future of the campus. I look forward to working with all the stakeholders to make this happen.”

“It is critically important that we take the necessary steps to breathe life back into the Stony Brook Southampton campus. The Windmill has stood for over 100 years and has become the symbol of the campus. Refurbishing this historically significant landmark is a fitting step, further demonstrating the partnership and commitment of the Southampton Community to move the revitalization of this campus forward,” said Senator Palumbo.

"As the former Mayor of the Village of Westhampton Beach, I'm proud that our community was able to successfully preserve the Governor John Adams Dix windmill, recognizing the importance of safeguarding our historical landmarks. Now, as Southampton Town Supervisor, I lend my full support to the joint venture between the Town of Southampton and the State of New York to restore and preserve the windmill on the former Stony Brook Southampton campus. This collaborative effort not only echoes our commitment to preserving our cultural heritage but also serves as a testament to the enduring partnership between local and state entities in fostering the rich history of our community. Thank you to Assemblyman Thiele and Senator Palumbo for spearheading this effort," stated Southampton Town Supervisor Maria Moore.

“The windmill on the campus of Stony Brook Southampton is a regional icon, and we are proud to partner with the State of New York to preserve this structure as a symbol of our desire to revitalize the Stony Brook Southampton campus,” said Southampton Town Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni.

“Not only will this reinvigorate the Stony Brook Southampton Campus, but it will allow us to enshrine our unique historical identity that makes Southampton a wonderful place to live and learn,” said Southampton Town Councilman Michael Iasilli.

The State legislators have spoken to town officials about the proposal and look forward to their input. The state legislators indicated that they will work to include the windmill language in the state budget together with the state legislation that would authorize workforce housing on the area of the campus where the dilapidated, condemned dormitories are currently located.