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Historic House Survives Fire Mostly Intact

A fire nearly consumed the wooden Mill Pond house, at the corner of West Shore Road and Mill Hill Road, on Saturday night. According to a patrolman on the site this was the second fire in a week, the first having occurred last Tuesday.

According to detectives, the Oyster Bay Fire Department, with the assistance of the Atlantic Steamer, Locust Valley and Bayville Fire Departments, responded to 1065 W. Shore Rd., a historical house owned by the Town of Oyster Bay, at 9:25 p.m. A total of 100 firefighters with 15 pieces of fire apparatus battled the blaze and successfully extinguished the fire that damaged the vacant home, police said.

A preliminary investigation by the fire marshall and arson/bomb squad detectives deemed the fire to be suspicious. They are requesting information.

The building is one of the oldest in the hamlet, having been built around 1720. Despite years of recent neglect, as of Sunday the sturdy little house has survived mostly intact.

Most Historic Part Unharmed by Fire

The fire appears to have taken place mostly in a newer addition on the southeast side where a screened porch once stood. The top of an older secondary addition right next to that also shows evidence of charring. The oldest and most historic part of the house, which is nearest the road, does not appear to be affected, except by firemen who needed safe access. Most buildings of its age, such as Raynham Hall, are almost always oriented on a north-south axis. The Mill Pond House, however, is slightly renegade. It follows the curve of the roadway with the front of the house facing roughly south-southeast. The long shakes on the original part of the house are a giveaway to its early 18th century heritage.

According to the writings of Town Historian John Hammond, the building was owned by one family, the Townsends, until 1929. It then went through several owners and was a gift shop featuring primarily women’s clothing in the 1960s and 1970s.

Recently Occupied by An Olympic 470 Sailor

It became a colorful and trendy windsurfing shop in the 1980s and early 1990s when Yale graduate and 1984 Olympic Sailing silver medalist Steve Benjamin renovated and operated it. It was Benjamin who converted the garages at the back for additional showroom and workshop space, and in a gentle renovation changed the color from gray and white to its current taupe and cream.

Could be Reconnected To the Waterfront

The house has a beautiful wide lawn behind it that is surprisingly private, and it sits on the Mill Pond outflow creek, which used to dock small yachts, rowboats and other craft in the late 1800s. From the rear, the house is much larger than it appears from the road.

If the big tunnel under the railway only had a brick walkway built to connect it to the waterfront it might yet have potential as a part of a walking tour, perhaps a bed and breakfast and could potentially house sailors and others wanting a stay at Oyster Bay.

The house has long had landmark status and the property is currently owned and cared for by the Town of Oyster Bay.

The county requests anyone with information regarding this incident to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers will remain anonymous.

News

In a little-known chapter of New York City’s history, the name of police officer Phillip Cardillo is spoken in hushed, revered whispers. Though he was tragically killed in the line of duty back in 1972, the burning embers of his memory are still fanned by a passionate few who wish to finally obtain for the fallen hero the elusive recognition that he truly deserves.

At their Oct. 8 meeting in Mineola, the Nassau County-based Association of Retired Police Officers (ARPO) held a heartfelt ceremony, as both Cardillo as well as the driven NYPD detective who has fought for justice in his name for the past four decades, were honored as the true heroes that they are.

In what was their last free meeting at the Community United Methodist Church of East Norwich, the East Norwich Civic Association presented a money saving/energy saving program. It was presented by Marriele Robinson of the Homeowner Support PowerUp Communities group, an outreach of the L.I. Progressive Party. She came to offer free energy evaluations of homes to make them more energy efficient, which will save money.

She said Poor Richard’s Almanac promises it to be very cold this winter, and this is a way to plug up your energy leaks, with both current savings on needed work and through rebates resulting in future savings. After an energy assessment of your home, PowerUp will present you with a report based on their contractor’s assessment, which will outline all the ways you can improve your energy efficiency. The report will include all the potential rebates to reduce the cost of the upgrade which includes the option of financing through PS&G, which will include the monthly payments in your monthly bill.


Sports

A number of awards were given to runners in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich area at the Oct. 18 Oyster Bay Town Supervisor’s 5 Kilometer Run, including 23-year-old Justin Nakrin of Oyster Bay, who finished in 12th place overall and second in the 20-24 age group, and 43-year-old Daniel Valderrama of Oyster Bay, who scored in 17th place overall and second in the 40-44 age group. Maggie Reid of Locust Valley earned first place honors in the 15-19 age group.

The indomitable 81-year-old Nina Jennings of Mill Neck was the oldest woman to finish the run, taking first place honors in the women’s 80-84 age group in 35 minutes, 11 seconds, a pace of 11:19 per mile. She was the fastest of all of the five finishers—male or female—who were 80 years old or more.

The autumn varsity sports season is well on its way in Oyster Bay. Many young athletes have distinguished themselves. Several fine young athletes excelled right out of the gate and were chosen by the Oyster Bay Hight School coaches as Athletes of the Month for October 2014.

Cross Country Coach Kevin Cotter has athletes who consistently qualify for the states. Picking one to honor is a difficult task. Within this impressive group of talented athletes, one stands out: junior Alex Tosi, who recently broke the 17 minute barrier for a 5K course at Bethpage State park with a time of 16:52. This feat has not been accomplished since 2008.


Calendar

Ghastly Grounds

Thursday, October 30

Trick Or Treat

Friday, October 31

Long Island Baroque Ensemble

Sunday, November 2



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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