GLEN COVE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A historic landmark on Glen Cove was once the home of a founding family on Long Island, but now it is covered in graffiti art.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the transformation is now at the heart of a controversy.
Some are impressed by the images painted on the First City Project house, which has the word “art” hanging over the dor. To some, it is awful.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” said Glen Cove realtor Grace Slezak. She dismissed the art house as “trash.”

The debate has mounted in Glen Cove as to whether the edgy urban street art project – an artistic boost to a struggling downtown – has some aghast.

“Any structure with historic significance shouldn’t be desecrated the way this is being handled,” Slezsak said.

The house, now plastered inside and out with art and graffiti, is a 300-year-old historic landmark. Local entrepreneur Joe LaPadula bought the vacant home to open a restaurant, but plans stalled, and he invited 125 street and gallery artists from around the world to use the space as a canvas.

“Something this obscure in a place like Glen Cove is just really really beautiful because it’s different,” said artist and First City Project co-creator Sean Sullivan.

“I think that art is supposed to challenge people’s preconceived notions and change their perspective,” said artist Adam Jonah, a recent Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School graduate from Port Washington who worked on the project.

Under landmark rules, the inside of the house was fair game. Artists took care to preserve historic wood

“Even though artists came in here with spray cans spraying wild, there’s nothing on the wood,” LaPadula said.

But the outside was not supposed to be altered.

“We didn’t ask permission, but I think it turned into a positive thing,” LaPadula said. “It did exactly what it was intended to do – it caused curiosity.”

Although it broke landmark rules, Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello is all for the First City Project as a welcome draw for visitors

“It’s good for the city because it’s drawing comment. It’s drawing attention,” Spinello said.

The mayor and organizers insist there is no permanent damage to the house. The artwork on the white siding on the outside walls is composed only of stencils that were glued on — and can and will be power-washed off.

But critics said the temporary display crossed a line by breaking rule. They are calling for a permanent aesthetic review board.

Fans say art is supposed to stir things up.

The First City Project has one week to return the outside of the house to its previous condition. It is not open to the public, but may be used in the future as event space.