The Henry W. Prince Dry Goods Store
The Prince Building was built in 1874 for Henry Wells Prince (1839-1925) and G. Frank Hommel. Hommel occupied the west side of the building where he ran a shoe store and Prince occupied the east where he ran a successful dry goods business. The building was twice home to the United States Post Office - first in 1893 and again from 1932 through the 1950s.
The building contains approximately 29,475 bricks manufactured by the Brenan and Graham brick companies. Construction began October 26, 1874 and was concluded on or about February 2, 1875. Those who helped construct the building included Thomas Quarty, D. Glover, and S. A. Prince (Carpenters); T. Donahue, Harrison Reeve, John Whitney, T. Topping, J. Cogan, Joe Sidor, O. Corwin, and a Horton and a Terry (Masons and Laborers).
The Prince Building
By the late 19th century Prince had bought out Mr. Hommel and taken over the entire establishment for his business activities. The basement, at that time, housed a popular Oyster Bar and candy store, which was entered through a door cut into the basement on the front of the building. In February of 1881 the Southold Grange voted to accept the offer of space on the second floor of the building. The International Order of Odd Fellows also used this space. In June of 1890 a large opening was cut through the center wall dividing the two rooms on the second floor.
The building housed a number of stores following Prince and Hommel, and the second floor was converted into apartments after 1940. Though the correct order and time spans are not known, these businesses included: W. A. Williams Clothing Store; Fred Fickeissen's Grocery Store; Chris Grattan's Butcher Shop; Rothman's Department Store; Smitty's Fruit & Vegetable Storerooms; Jimmy's Restaurant (1950s); a Television and Radio Store; Lambert's Clothing Store; and Gossner's (printing/stationary).
The building was badly damaged in August of 1954 during hurricane Carol when the east side roof and upper portion of the front wall gave way (see below). The original round attic story window was never restored, and instead a demi-lune window was placed in that position. At that time, the U.S. Post Office occupied the west side and a restaurant occupied the east side.
By 1989 the building was in a bit of disrepair, the remaining portion of the original porch having been removed after 1954. The Society purchased the building that year from Arthur and Millicent Gossner and began an aggressive restoration and rehabilitation effort. Today, the building is fully restored and houses the Maureen Ostermann Administrative Center, Archives, Museum Gift Shop, and the Treasure Exchange Consignment Shop.
The building after Hurricane Carol, August 1954