Gordon Heights leaders hope a symbol of the community's past will help improve its future.
Several dozen community residents joined Brookhaven Town officials Friday to dedicate a rebuilt 19th century house that will serve as the new home of the Greater Gordon Heights Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber officials said they plan to use the town-owned building, a single-story abode at Middle County Road and Homestead Drive known as the Mott House, as an incubator for new businesses and a training ground for nascent entrepreneurs.
The original Mott House -- built in 1824 and named for an early owner, seaman Albert Mott, who lived there with his wife, Joanna, and their seven children -- collapsed about three years ago.
Brookhaven spent $500,000 to build a replica featuring a wood floor, wooden furniture and candlestick-style electric lights.
"We really came from the ashes of disaster to making this a great community center," Councilwoman Connie Kepert said Friday.
The Mott House will host entrepreneurship seminars, classes for businesswomen and STEM (science, technology, economics and math) workshops. It will be formally known as the Greater Gordon Heights Chamber of Commerce Business and Cultural Heritage Center for Excellence in Education, Research and Advocacy.
Organizers envision having recording and television studios, internships and mentoring programs at the site. The Longwood Public Library plans to hold English as a Second Language classes there.
"We have a lot of home-based businesses," said chamber president Shirley Singletary Hudson. "We want to be a resource that we can guarantee their success."
The hamlet of about 900 homes struggles with a small commercial tax base, causing residents of the Gordon Heights Fire District to have some of the highest fire tax bills on Long Island.
Hudson said she hopes the building will help attract members; the chamber's current membership fluctuates between 15 and 20 local businesses. Efforts to restore the building for the chamber began in 2006.
"This is a long time coming. This didn't happen overnight," chamber executive director Nicole Christian said. "As we go into our 87th year as Gordon Heights, this is definitely a milestone for some of the elders that you see here today."