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

Building J at Oyster Bay’s Western Waterfront is again up and running as the Ida May Project builds the 40-passenger oyster boat that will be operated by the WaterFront Center. The Ida May Project of the Christeen Oyster Sloop Preservation Corp. is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to preserve Oyster Bay maritime heritage by involving the community in traditional boat building.

Bill Shephard, Herb Scheirhorst, President Clint Smith and Project Manager Hank Tiska were there on a recent Thursday. Smith had left at around 2 p.m. to get a part he had at home they needed to fix the tractor they use to move the logs they cut to size in their saw mill. Fixing their equipment and cutting logs are some of the many projects that encompass the work.

If you missed the 6th annual champagne party at Coe Hall in Planting Fields, put it on your calendar for next year, because this is the party of the summer. A total of 175 guests attended, and many of them were in costume, a new addition to the popular champagne party. The always ebullient Henry Joyce, executive director of Planting Fields Foundation, greeted his guests with his date Daphne, a 3-month-old long haired Dachshund, who is a companion for his Great Dane, Lucy.


Sports

Kevin Mercier, 39, of Oyster Bay, led a large contingent of local runners in the Lynne, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint 5 Kilometer Run, held on the grounds of Nassau County’s Sands Point Preserve on Saturday morning, Aug. 9. Mercier was the 18th finisher overall and third in the 35-39 age group with a time of  21 minutes, 7 seconds.

Other local runners winning awards at the Sands Point Preserve were Nicholas Cuddy of Oyster Bay, who earned first place honors in the Clydesdale Weight Division with a time of 25:53, Joanne Gallo of Oyster Bay, who  took home the first place award in the women’s 65-69 age group with a time of 28:11, and Anja Hermann of Oyster Bay, third place woman in the 20-24 age group, who finished in 28:47.

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay will once again be the site of the Long Island’s premiere multisport event – the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 23, and the Runner’s Edge – Town of Oyster Bay Junior Triathlon for youngsters ages 8-13 on Sunday, Aug. 24.

The Saturday main event is a “sprint” triathlon, which consists of a half-mile swim in Oyster Bay harbor, a one loop 15 kilometer bike ride over hill and dale through beautiful Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove and Laurel Hollow, and a 5 kilometer run through Mill Neck and Brookville, “up” to Planting Fields Arboretum and “down”to the finish at back at  Roosevelt  Park.


Calendar

Movie at the Library

Thursday, August 28

Sagamore Hill Walk

Saturday, August 30

Hooks and Needles

Tuesday, September 2



Columns

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

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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