Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The William Steeple Davis Trust - Residency

The William Steeple Davis Trust
P.O. Box 371
Orient, NY    11957

The Trust was established in 1976 under the will of Mr. Davis to"...provide a temporary place of abode for persons of good character who are or have been actively engaged in cultural professions, particularly in the arts, and who are without adequate funds to provide for such accommodations." The 'abode' referred to in the will is Mr. Davis' former home in the village of Orient, located at the eastern end (North Fork) of Long Island, New York. The village is approximately 100 miles from New York City and has a population, partly seasonal, of some 850. The surrounding region is still semi-rural in character although a gradual conversion of farmland to single ¬family housing has been underway for some years and seems likely to continue. The Davis house is in a quiet location within sight of Orient Harbor, within walking distance of public beaches, open fields and marshes, the post office, churches and a small country store. Residence in the house would be possible without a car but quite inconvenient. There is a limited bus service to the nearest shopping center, Greenport, some six miles west. Limited bus service from Orient and rail service from Greenport extends westward to the more populated parts of the Island and New York City. A ferry transports passengers and cars to New London, Connecticut, from Orient Point, which is three miles east from the Davis house. The provisions of Mr. Davis will, as cited above, obviously give the trustees considerable latitude in the selection of "persons of good character" for residence in the house. In the recent past the residents have been both single individuals and married couples that are active in some artistic endeavor, usually painting, photography or writing. These are not, however, seen as being limitations on the selection of future residents. A resident's immediate (small!) family could be included if willing to tolerate some crowding, especially in winter when only one bedroom is efficiently heated. In summer two small, second floor bedrooms can be utilized by family or guests. There must be clear understanding that unusual care must be exercised at all times to insure that the house and its contents are not abused. Because of the attendant risk of damage to an irreplaceable and historically important resource, small children and animals must be excluded. The range of professional activities definable as "cultural" for the purpose of selecting residents can be fairly broad and could certainly include artists in a variety of fields. The final provision of the will, that residents be "without adequate funds to provide for such accommodations," has been difficult to apply in any formal way but is a consideration in selection. The most important selection criterion is that the person selected be "of good character." The Davis house is, in effect, a museum of Mr. Davis life and work and the primary concern of the trustees is that it be treated with appropriate care and respect. Second only to the above in importance, is the trustees' responsibility to ensure that residents' life style is in no way disruptive of a quiet, conservative small town community which willingly nurtures artists but does expect them to adhere to local standards. Loud parties are, of course, precluded.
It should be understood that living in the Davis house is quite different from life in a city apartment or modern house. Furnishings and facilities are more reminiscent of the early twentieth century than of current urban standards. There is a single, old-fashioned bathroom, small gas stove for cooking, and refrigerator - no television (a resident could bring their own set if desired). The property consists of a small two-story (6 room) house, a separate good-sized studio building, and several nondescript outbuildings used for storage. Central heating is limited to the lower floor of the house and the studio is equipped with a gas heater. There is no air conditioning. A certain level of ability and willingness to 'rough it' is necessary. All gas, telephone and electric bills are the responsibility of the resident, as are other costs, such as food, garbage disposal and transportation. Essential maintenance costs for the buildings and lawn mowing are covered by the Trust (maintenance has necessarily been somewhat restricted by the limited scale of Trust resources). Smoking within the house or studio is NOT permitted. The residence period will be fifty weeks, starting on October 15th in the current year and ending on October 1st in the following year. The general expectation is that the resident will be in financial position to spend their full time in residence involved in his/her artistic (or other "cultural") work, since the main purpose of the Trust is seen to be the support of such work. Full time residence is not intended to be simply inexpensive housing for a person engaged in outside work apart from the 'cultural' profession that formed the basis for their selection. Compromises may become necessary in the case of part-time employment or other gainful activity that can be regarded as not interfering significantly with the main creative purpose of the Trust. These should always be discussed in advance with one of the trustees. The trustees are responsible for all Trust functions and general supervision of the Trust property. A formal agreement between each resident and the Trust will be signed, listing the responsibilities and rights of each party (generally, those outlined above). Inquiries from persons wishing to apply for the “year round residence” in the Davis house should be mailed to: William Steeple Davis Trust, P. O. Box 371, Orient, NY 11957. No particular format is required but the application should briefly address the following:
1)   Understanding of the general character requirements outlined above and willingness of the applicant to meet them in full.
2)   General financial status of the applicant and plans for gainful activity, if any, during the residence year. No actual numbers are required; however, an expression of the applicant's ability to undertake the cost of utilities and other attendant expenses associated with the residence would be helpful.
3)   Statement of the "cultural activity" to be pursued during the residence.
4)   If appropriate, any evidence of achievement in the cultural field proposed such as slides, brochures, affiliations, etc. No intrinsically or personally valuable materials should be submitted.
Application should be received at the above address by June 30, 2012.
The term for full time occupancy for the Trust year shall be from October 15th, 2012 to October 1st, 2013. All material submitted with applications will be returned following the selection process.
Any questions relative to this overview may be directed to:
William Steeple Davis Trust
P.O. Box 371
Orient, NY 11957