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Historical society bids on Hallock house

The Noah Hallock house is the oldest house

The Noah Hallock house is the oldest house in Rocky Point, and the Rocky Point Historical Society is trying to buy it to preserve the house as a museum and cultural center. (Sept. 17, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The Realtor's brochure for 172 Hallock Landing Rd. in Rocky Point touts the home's "old world charm."

Call it an understatement.

The two-story house -- likely the oldest in Rocky Point -- is nearly 300 years old and has been largely untouched since it was built by prominent resident Noah Hallock about 1721.

"Eight generations of Hallocks were married in the living room, in front of the fireplace," said Rocky Point Historical Society president Natalie Stiefel.

When owners put the house up for sale a few months ago, Stiefel said, the historical society entered the bidding and has been fundraising to buy the site. "We feel obligated to save a house of this stature," she said.

While the house shows its age in its small doorframes and some foundation problems in the front parlor, much of it is in good condition.

"This is still pristine," said Jeff Davis, a trustee of the society. "This is a real diamond."

The first floor features a kitchen with the original wood-burning stove, as well as a narrow staircase to small rooms upstairs that likely served as slave quarters, Stiefel said.

While modern necessities such as electricity and indoor plumbing have been added, Stiefel said the bones of the house are original, from the wide plank floors to interior windows intended to light dark hallways.

Hallock descendants lived in the house until about the 1960s, when Sylvester Hallock sold the home to Lydia Via Cava and her daughter, Louise.

Lydia Via Cava died about 15 years ago, and then her daughter died last year, said Louise's sister Gloria Devereaux of Miller Place. "They loved the house," she said. "I don't even know that it was the history part that they loved so much. It was a comfortable house for them."

The house is one of the visible reminders of the legacy of Noah Hallock, who made his fortune in lumber. His name is prominent in the community, from street namings to a family cemetery near Hallock Landing Road.

"The Hallocks owned every piece of land you can see in Rocky Point," Stiefel said.

The historical society is trying to raise the estimated $200,000 to buy and restore the house for preservation as well as to give the society a permanent home and a place to establish a local history museum.

It's a mission Devereaux supports. "The historical society has waited years and years to get hold of this house. They have artifacts dating back all the way to the 1700s. They're all ready to furnish it as a museum. It's going to be wonderful," Devereaux said.

Another buyer offered $299,000 for the house and agreed to restore it, but Devereaux and her brother Louis Via Cava say they prefer the historical society to buy the house. "We just want to see it preserved," she said. "You don't know what would happen if somebody else bought it."

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