The site of Villa Paul originally belonged to Joseph & Phebe Brown who, in 1804, built a log cabin on the premises. According to census records, Joseph was a farmer and the Browns were the parents of four children. The current Men’s and Women’s rooms in Villa Paul are part of the original structure and served as the “Borning Room.” Borning (or Birthing) Rooms were common in houses of that era and were reserved for birth, illness and death, thereby providing both entrance and exit to this life. In 1850, the value of this property was $2200.
The next owners were believed to have been Albert and Phebe Williamson. Neighbors from the west end of Good Ground believed that Oscar Goodale once owned the property.
The next known owners of this property were the most famous or infamous: Judge Edward Lazansky and his wife Cora. Judge Lazansky was a Democratic candidate for the New York State Assembly in 1903, served as New York’s Secretary of State from 1911-12 and as delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1912 and 1916. He also served as Justice of the NY Supreme Court from 1920-1940. Cora was an interior decorator. The Lazanskys lived in Brooklyn and summered in Hampton Bays.
To the west of the current building, there was a pasture where neighbors would graze their cows. This was also the location of the Daines Cemetery.
The story goes that, after the Judge’s death, Mrs. Lazansky wanted to sell the property. When this sale proved slow going, it was felt that the prospect of living next to a cemetery was hurting the sale, so the stones were ordered removed, never to be seen again! Needless to say, a hue and cry was raised by the citizens of our good hamlet-to no avail. The bodies of the souls in this cemetery were not removed-but their exact location was unknown, due to the removal of the stones. If you ever wondered why there is a large, well maintained grass lot next door, that is the reason why!
The property ultimately came to be owned by Paul Villa, a successful restauranteur from Italy’s Cinque Terre on the rugged coast of the Italian Riviera, in the village of Vernazza (a painting of Vernazza still hangs above the fireplace). Paul renovated and transformed the abandoned judge’s mansion into the Italian restaurant known today as Villa Paul. While dining in the main room of this establishment, you are in the library of Judge Lazansky. Paul Villa ran and operated the restaurant for nine years.
In 1965, a distant cousin of Paul’s was visiting. Domenico Pensa was offered the property and he accepted. Since then, Villa Paul has been owned and operated by three generations of the Pensa family.
Thank you to the Hampton Bays Historical Society for this history of Villa Paul.