As engineers, we like to plan, but often, true delight can come from the unpredictable and spontaneous. If you know me, you probably know I live on Long Island. After a light snowstorm one morning, my wife and I decided it’d be nice to spend the day “Out East,” taking in the snowy sights and enjoying one of our favorite pizza places in Sag Harbor. Quite by accident, we found ourselves in Springs, NY.

Now, if you’ve read Chapter One of “The Story of Parsons Corporation” titled “The Early Years,” you’d know that Ralph M. Parsons was born to a fisherman in Springs, NY, and raised in neighboring Amagansett, NY – both modest in affluence despite their proximity to the wealthy East Hampton, home to many celebrities and well-known magnates. Well, until today, that was just a simple factoid in the back of my mind. But as you can imagine, I became very excited after noticing a large sign over an old red building that read “Parsons Blacksmith.” After executing a VERY SAFE U-turn, I was able to trudge through the snow to peer inside at a very familiar setting – you see, my father is a blacksmith!

Did you think this was going to be some history about Parsons Corporation? That’d be fitting for our 80th anniversary, but in fact, this is a story with some history of the Parsons Family.

Right next to the blacksmith shop at Parsons Place is the Springs Town Community Library, housed in the Ambrose Parsons House, which was added to the National Historic Register in 1995. And, thanks to Linda, the Librarian, I was able to make my way upstairs to the historical society archives and flip through the files on the Parsons Family. One day, I’ll have to go back to read through the files more closely, but I was able to learn a few things:

  1. The Blacksmith Shop was owned by Ralph’s uncle Charles.
  2. The Blacksmith Shop was moved to its current location sometime after 1981. The move was made possible by a grant from the Ralph M Parsons Foundation! As the son of a blacksmith, I can very much relate to the spirit of building, solving problems, and tinkering, which no doubt grew inside young Ralph, working around the forge and anvil. You’ll note there’s a photograph of a young Ralph forging steel in one of the attached photos.
  3. The Parsons family seems to have played a prominent role in the Springs community, though it will take further study to appreciate the breadth and depth – I’m not yet sure WHO Ambrose Parsons was.

I hope to make it back to learn more about the family, but a copy of “The Story of Parsons Corporation” will be en route to the Historical Society next week. Below are a few photographs from my serendipitous experience. Enjoy!

About The Author

Seth has more than 22 years of experience as a structural engineer and manager specializing in the design, rehabilitation, and inspection of long-span and moveable bridges. Experience includes cable-stayed, suspension, and movable bridges in both design and management roles, in both traditional design-bid-build and alternative project delivery contracting methods. Mr. Condell’s projects include the Goethals Bridge Replacement, the Fore River Lift Bridge Replacement, the new Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge, the new Autoroute 25 cable-stayed bridge, reconstruction of the Lions Gate Bridge, and the third Carquinez Strait Bridge.

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