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

With a general discontent about the view-blocking pedestrian railings recently installed along West Shore Road, the discussion at the Oyster Bay Civic Association meeting on Sept. 18 focused on the possibility of having the road designated as a scenic highway.

This concept was suggested by Gregory Druhak of Centre Island, a regular traveler along West Shore Road, who said, “I believe this is the most scenic drive on Long Island west of the Hamptons, perhaps on all of Long Island itself, and it is not being treated as such. I feel we are being given the Lefferts Boulevard [down by JFK airport] expressway extension instead. For all you can see, it might as well be the Belt Parkway below the fence instead of Oyster Bay. This is wrong.”  

This year you can expect to see the Freedom Schooner Amistad, Connecticut’s flagship, tied up on the Western Waterfront Pier at the Oyster Festival on Oct. 18 and 19. The ship is a Baltimore Clipper that is 129 feet in length and weighs 96 tons. Its home port is New Haven, Conn.

The tall ship visits ports worldwide, as an ambassador for friendship. It serves as a floating classroom, icon and monument to many souls that were broken or lost as the result of the transatlantic slave trade.

The original Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, was made famous in 1839 when 53 African captives (men, women and children) transported from Havana revolted against their captors. The captives gained control of the ship under the leadership of Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque, who commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone. Instead, the ship headed north, landing in Long Island, and was taken into custody by the United States Navy.


Sports

Football season is here and the Oyster Bay-Bayville Generals  held their opening day games on Sept. 14. Here are the results:

5 & 6 Peanuts:

The Peanuts opened the season vs. the Seaford Broncos and came out on the losing end of a hard fought game. The Lil Generals opened the game on offense and quarterback Rodney Hill, Jr. marched the offense down the field and completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Francesco Allocca. Yes, the Peanuts have a potent air attack with Hill Jr. going two for two for 26 yards. The defense played strong with Allocca leading the team in tackles with help on the defensive line from first-year players Dean Wolfe and Anthony Pelchuck.  

Former football coach and NFL player Bill Curry recently brought a wealth of experience, knowledge and history to a wide audience of student-athletes and coaches at Hofstra University for a lesson on diversity, tolerance and respect in high school athletics.

 

Director of the NYS PHSAA Sportsmanship Committee and Manhasset High School Athletic Director Jim Amen Jr. established the summit and invited Curry as keynote speaker.

Amen Jr. and Section VIII Executive Director Nina Van Erk introduced Curry to a crowd representing more than 37 local high schools.


Calendar

Plein Art Exhibit

Wednesday, Oct. 1

College Discussion

Monday, Oct. 6

Collecting Manuscripts

Thursday, Oct. 9



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