EASTPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Plans to tear down what some call an eyesore on Long Island have residents rallying to save what they call a historic gem.
Unfortunately for them, it could be too late.
The home stands boarded up and framed by weeds on Montauk Highway, but when it landed on the list of “zombie houses” to be torn down by the Town of Brookhaven, civic leader MaryAnn Johnston was aghast.
“This is a classic Long Island farmhouse,” she said Monday.
To her, the eyesore is a local treasure dating back nearly 150 years — a Victorian farmhouse an barn from Eastport’s earliest settlers, the Dawkins family, who farmed the potato fields which gave eastern Brookhaven Township its character.
“I think it can be saved,” Johnston told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “We can’t ascribe the same standards to a house built in the 50s or 60s or 70s that somebody has left abandoned to a 143-year-old home that houses the heritage and the history.
Town of Brookhaven officials say the 11th hour effort to now save the dilapidated house comes after years of neglect and violations.
“There is mold, the structural old brick that is falling out, the presence of vermin,” town attorney Dave Moran said.
Town officials say they have no choice but to tear it down because it’s structurally unsafe, and the property owner who plans to build stores in its place has left it open and dangerous.
The town has offered civic groups a little more time. Their goal; to raise the money to make an offer on the property or move the farmhouse
The house doesn’t have any historical designation, a long and difficult process.
“There was a mansion in Patchogue that was knocked down to put up a gas station,” Ed Deggenaro, President of the Mastic Peninsula Historical Society said. “It was the last of the mansions on ‘mansion row,’ they used to call it.”
Johnston says the home is “what made Long Island great.”
The Town of Brookhaven has given the civic groups until January to save the house. The supervisor has wished them good luck and godspeed.
The developer, Eastport Commons, did not immediately respond to CBS2’s request for comment.