Anton Community Newspapers  •  132 East 2nd Street  •  Mineola, NY 11501  •  Phone: 516-747-8282  •  FAX: 516-742-5867
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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

“Visitation is up 300 percent,” said Harriet Gerard Clark, Raynham Hall Museum director.

“Two-thirds of them come because of reading the book by Brian Kilmeade, George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved The American Revolution, and seeing the series ‘Turn’ on A&E,” added Tom Valentine, docent, who keeps the list of visitors. Soon the series will include the story of Robert Townsend of Oyster Bay who was known as Culper, Jr. when he was a spy for George Washington.

Alex Sutherland, director of education, nailed his definition. “He was the most important spy for George Washington because he had the perfect cover. He was pretending to be a Loyalist and writing for a Loyalist newspaper and befriending British officers at his coffee shop in downtown New York while secretly collecting information.

As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”


Sports

Hard work paid off for local athletes Christine Grippo of Locust Valley, Kelly Pickard of Oyster Bay, Bernadette Winnubst of Locust Valley, Steven Quigley of Bayville, Catherine Soler of Oyster Bay, Maria Elinger of Oyster Bay, and Armand D’Amato of Oyster Bay Cove, each of whom won awards in a field of some of the best triathletes from all of Long Island and beyond in the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon, held in and around Oyster Bay’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park on Saturday morning, Aug. 23.

Grippo earned top honors in the women’s 30-34 age group with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 36 seconds. Pickard (1:17:39) scored first among the women in the 35-39 age group. Winnubst scored in 1:38:48 to earn third place honors in the Masters Athena Weight Division. Quigley earned the second place award in the Masters Clydesdale Weight Division in 1:23:23. Soler (1:29:12) scored 5th among the women in the 20-24 age group. Ehlinger (1:39:23) was the 4th place award winner in the women’s 55-59 age group. D’Amato (1:42:44) earned top honors in the 70-74 age group.

Ice Dreams, an Olympic Ice Show starring 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist Jason Brown and aspiring local skaters, is coming to Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Sept. 20.

Isabella Skvarla, 13, Julia Tauter, 12, and Chiara Vlacich, 12, all of Oyster Bay, Julia Forte, 12, of Locust Valley and Riley Stein, 11, of Bayville will be skating in the world class show to celebrate the opening of the best figure skating facility Long Island has ever seen.


Calendar

Art In A Meadow

Saturday, Sept. 13

Bayville Oktoberfest

Saturday, Sept. 13 - Sunday, Sept. 14

Hurricane Preparedness

Tuesday, Sept. 16



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