UPDATE: Listen to Newsday's Valerie Kellogg talk to BBC radio about the 'Amityville Horror' house for sale.
The real estate listing for the house that went on the market today at 108 Ocean Ave. refers to it as a “legendary” home,” but most people would know the sideways Dutch Colonial on the canal as the so-called Amityville Horror house.
Listed for $1.15 million, the picturesque and pristine five-bedroom, 3-1/2-bath home looks very different from the home where Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six family members as they slept in 1974. The crime spawned the 1977 book “The Amityville Horror: A True Story” about alleged supernatural happenings at the house and a series of scary movies starting in 1979.
Even the address is different. Previous owners James and Barbara Cromarty, who own the Riverhead Raceway, said they had it changed from 112 Ocean Ave. to protect their privacy.
James Cromarty, 77, bought the house in 1977. By that point, a bank had foreclosed on the house. It had been owned by George and Kathleen Lutz, whose experience living there for 28 supposedly haunted days the bestselling Jay Anson book is based upon. (The Lutzes have since died, and DeFeo is at the Green Haven Correctional Facility, serving 25 years to life for the murders.)
“Nothing weird ever happened, except for people coming by because of the book and the movie,” said Cromarty, who lived a decade in the house.
He and his wife, Barbara, sold the house in 1987 to Peter and Jeanne O’Neill. Reached today, Jeanne O’Neill said, “I loved it. It was a beautiful home.” They sold the house in 1997 for $310,000 to the current owner, which records identify as Brian Wilson.
Wilson has renovated the boat house, added a new bulk head, central air conditioning and gas heating system and installed a new roof, in-ground sprinklers, central stereo system, deck and patio.
“It’s one of the more beautifully redone houses in the neighborhood,” said listing agent Laura Zambratto of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.
The Cromartys visited the house last summer after a mutual friend introduced them to Wilson. “It’s amazing how many changes he’s made,” said James Cromarty, who said he was particularly impressed by how the back porch was turned into an enclosed sunroom. “He did a beautiful job,” he said. “He put a lot of money into that place.”
Jerry O’Neill of Coldwell Banker Harbor Light, who has been selling Amityville real estate for 38 years and whose brother, Peter, used to own it, said he thinks the asking price is fair. “It’s a gorgeous, big center hall Colonial with a finished basement,” said O’Neill, with “nothing spooky about it.”
Neighbors said that there are the occasional gawkers, mostly on Halloween. One resident said she believes the legend is “garbage” and was a moneymaking scheme. Another neighbor, who grew up in the neighborhood, said people still come by, especially anytime the movie is re-aired or the media writes about it.
It’s not the only notorious Long Island house on the market. Recently, the East Meadow expanded ranch where serial killer Joel Rifkin used to live, sometimes bringing victims back to the house, was listed for $424,500.
Stacey Altherr contributed to this story.