Stuart and Henle Cohen are selling a house in West...

Stuart and Henle Cohen are selling a house in West Sayville where George Washington once stayed to rest on a five day tour in 1790. (Oct. 15, 2012) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

A West Sayville house is on the market for $1.4 million, and for once, it's an 18th century house that doesn't brag about George Washington sleeping there. He just rested there.

But in a tough real estate market, a little history helps. Washington has given the listing cachet, boosting the asking price.

The owners cite Washington's diary of his 1790 tour of Long Island and stop at what's now called the Green House.

"We figure he had to water the horse, have a cup of tea and find out if there was an outhouse," said Henle Cantor of Aquebogue, who owns the house with her husband, Stuart.

In his diary entry for Thursday, April 22, Washington wrote: "About 8 o'clock we left Mr. Thompson's -- halted a while at one Greens distant 11 miles and dined Harts Tavern in Brookhaven township five miles farther," according to The Papers of George Washington Digital Edition.

To dispel any doubters of the presidential connection, the Cantors point to the Islip Town landmark seal on the front door and a Sayville Historical Society signpost by the picket fence.

"Curiosity-lookers" have toured the 5,400-square-foot, two-floor house currently leased as office space, said the broker, Bill Collins, owner of All Island Realty in Bay Shore.

"George Washington helps the marketing tremendously, particularly since the renovation has been so true to the period," Collins said.

The Cantors, Sayville residents for 35 years, long admired the Green House, built in 1786 and named after West Sayville's founding family.

When it went on the market, they snapped it up in 1998 for less than $500,000. The retired couple, former owners of a parts-related business serving Pepsi plants overseas, relished the centuries-old buildings they saw in Europe and Asia.

"When it came for sale, I didn't walk -- I ran," Stuart Cantor said. "I guess it's very strange to love a building, but I really do. It's a piece of history that really can't be duplicated."

Only the Green family and descendants owned the house before the Cantors.

The couple spent $300,000 on a renovation and filled the house with images of Washington and his wife, Martha.

They researched Colonial times and trekked to Washington's Mount Vernon home in Virginia. They painted walls the gray-blue found there and chose carpets with Colonial-friendly colors, such as maroon.

With his carpentry skills, Stuart Cantor even matched the missing dental molding, so called because it looks like teeth.

Plenty of Washington-era features remain: a typically narrow staircase with wood balustrade; a first-floor-to-attic wood beam that shows each ax cut; a built-in corner china cabinet; columns that once separated rooms; and a brick fireplace.

But Stuart Cantor's favorite spot is a cellar with a dirt floor and original stone foundation.

"This is old and you know it and you feel it," he said.

Florida now beckons for Stuart, 72, and Henle, 68. They have lost the energy to be office landlords, they said.

"At this point, we're ready to sit under the coconut tree," Stu Cantor said. "We've been absolutely thrilled owning this property. I wish we had found this sooner so we could have spent more time with it."

Latest Videos

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months