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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

Matt Bentz, of Forest Hills, was the winner of the Oyster Festival Raffle that took place as the event ended at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19. He had a choice between winning a 2015 Chrysler 200 three-year lease or $15,000 in cash. He chose the cash. He is the “Perfect Oyster Festival Raffle winner.”

Bentz is a computer systems administrator with Spa Creek Software, a company that writes software for other software developers, and has been to the festival numerous times over the years; in fact, next year he is hoping to sail here on his 24 ft. sailboat. He got it “reasonably” from a friend who was buying up.

Richie Cannata may be best known for his song credits but his name will become a part of history this week. Cannata, a 28-year resident and business owner of Glen Cove, will be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on Thursday, Oct. 23 at The Paramount in Huntington.

As a member of the Billy Joel Band, the saxophone player was propelled to fame in 1975 when he joined the band and played on songs including “New York State of Mind” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.”


Sports

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.

5- and 6-year-old Peanuts

The Little Generals (Peanuts) stepped out into the cold Sunday morning ready to give the home crowd a show as they battled the Bellmore Braves, and that’s just what they did as the Generals beat the Braves 14-7. The teams battled to a first half tie as the Generals’ touchdown came on a 26-yard run by Kody Gehnrich, thanks to great blocks by John (Jack) Grace and Jack Symanski.

In the second half, where the Generals are usually at their best, the defense shut out the Braves as Rodney Hill, Jr. and Brandon Babel stepped in on the defense line to create a great push to allow Francesco Allocca to make eight tackles. The offense got a big boost with Allocca being allowed to play RB after playing QB the past two games, and boy did he respond behind great lead blocking from Luca Granito. Allocca carried the ball nine times for 60 yards and a TD coming on the last play of the game.


Calendar

Boys & Girls Club Gala

Thursday, October 23

Halloween Party

Saturday, October 25

Property Tax Exemptions Workshop

Tuesday, October 28



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com