Want to save a Gold Coast or South Shore mansion from disappearing into "the dustbin of history"? Grab a garden tool, or a dust rag, and volunteer your time to keep these historic homes and gardens neat, clean and open for the coming spring and summer tourist season.
"We would be hard pressed, being a nonprofit, to maintain this place without volunteers," says Vincent Kish of Old Westbury Gardens, one of the North Shore's famous preserved Gold Coast estates.
Planting Fields Arboretum and State Historic Park in Oyster Bay, where once-upon-a-time the Coe family lived in splendor, also relies heavily on its 225 unpaid workers, says Elsa Eisenberg, volunteer coordinator.
Volunteers may be asked to lead house tours (sometimes in period costume), weed gardens, catalog artifacts, staff offices and gift shops and install 21st century improvements.
"We're looking for someone to improve our Web site," says Harriet Gerard Clark, executive director of Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay.
Here's how to become a part of local history.
History: Built in 1906, Westbury House was the wealthy Phipps family's Charles II-style mansion. Scenes from "American Gangster" and "Love Story" were filmed there.
The schedule: Weekends in April, then daily except Tuesday, April 26-Oct. 31.
The chores: Gardeners, docents, receptionists, clerical assistants and sales associates in the gift and plant shop.
Volunteer requirements: Fill out the application online or call volunteer coordinator Angela Savino (ext. 310). Minimum commitment of one four-hour shift per week and 50 hours per season.
History: The 65-room Coe Hall is a "Gold Coast" Tudor Revival mansion built from 1918 to 1921 by the super-rich Coe family.
The season: Year-round.
The chores: Interpreters for Coe Hall mansion (open April 1-Oct. 31), gift shop, garden and greenhouse (year-round).
Volunteer requirements: Contact Elsa Eisenberg for interview. Volunteers must attend introductory training and make a five-hour commitment per week.
History: Revolutionary War general and Declaration of Independence signer William Floyd was born in Old Mastic House in 1734. The grounds, which include a forest and the family cemetery, are part of the Fire Island National Seashore.
The season: Weekends and holidays, May-November
The chores: Giving guided tours of Old Mastic House.
Volunteer requirements: Must be age 18 or older. Minimum commitment of one four-hour day per week. Orientation session.
History: This 22-room historic house museum was built in the mid-18th century by the prosperous Townsend family. The occupying British army commandeered the house as its headquarters in 1778-79.
The season: Open year-round.
The chores: Cataloguing 7,000 items in the museum collection, putting in the new Victorian garden and house cleaning. Greeters and special events volunteers also needed.
Volunteer requirements: A face-to-face interview with character references.
SOCIETY FOR THE PRESERVATION OF LONG ISLAND ANTIQUES: Headquarters in Cold Spring Harbor, 631-692-4664, splia.org
History: Six historic house museums, including the Custom House in Sag Harbor, the Sherwood-Jayne farm in Setauket, and the Joseph Lloyd Manor in Lloyd Harbor. The latter was where African- American poet Jupiter Hammond lived.
The season: Memorial Day through Columbus Day
The chores: Docents, workers for the Apple Festival in September at Sherwood-Jayne Farm.
Volunteer requirements: Volunteers are prescreened by phone.
THE SEASON The house and grounds are open year-round.
THE CHORES Maintenance of the grounds, tour guides, greeters at the museum desk, curatorial assistants.
VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENTS Volunteer coordinator Joshua Reyes says there are limited volunteer openings for the coming tourist season. You'll need to fill out an application and be interviewed; a background check may be required for certain jobs.