ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some generous donations will help save one of Long Island’s once grand South Shore mansions.

For most people, Islip’s Brookwood Hall is a museum. For 80-year-old Frank Semco, who once lived in the majestic structure when it served as an orphanage after World War II, it’s something else.

“It’s home; we never called it an orphanage or anything else. We always said we were from the home,” Semco told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “I reminisce about all the good times, really it was a great place. It really is a gem.”

Town officials are announcing the beginning of restoration of the decaying 41-room Georgian revival mansion, which was built in 1903 and was once home to some of Long Island’s wealthiest families.

Town of Islip Councilman Steve Flotteron said they want to restore the mansion to its original grandeur, which includes refurbishing the courtyard, ballroom, brick walls, pillars, windows and French doors.

“Over the years, bad paneling was put over silk wallpaper and covered up moldings with dropped ceilings, let’s open it up and expose it,” Flotteron told 1010 WINS.

Brookwood Hall now serves as the headquarters for Islip’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs.

Officials also hope to restore decaying buildings at the Islip Grange in Sayville.

Flotteron said these buildings are important not only to Islip, but to all of Long Island.

“To educate our children of our past; where we came from, what was here, from small farming towns to fishing villages to the growth of suburbia and also one time with the Gold Coast of these large estates from Vanderbilts to the Whitneys,” Flotteron said.

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