Robert V. Strada, after a remarkable career in industrial design, took a commission from Princeton University in 2000 to design the restoration of the university-owned 1935 Garden Theater. He was hooked. Strada then created a lecture series, The Artist as a Working Man, presented at Princeton over three semesters before heading East. Here, ironically, he quickly found himself personally responsible for saving one of the oldest buildings in Early American history, taking it apart piece by piece. He has since built a strong reputation for historic rescue, conversion and their unique challenges.
Richard Ward Baxter, who traces his East End roots back to the 1640's, a member of the Howell family whose ancestor was a founder of Southampton, was raised on the Great South Bay. He became a ferryboat captain by 19 and got his degree in Marine Botany. After a detour with carpenter friends to Vermont to build and remodel homes and a similar stint in California, Baxter returned to the East End in the 1980's. He discovered historical timber frame homes and he was home. Baxter spent two years restoring the Gardiner Windmill in East Hampton, and has worked on six of the windmill restorations on Long Island. He has built a reputation as a noted preservationist.