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Long Island

List of endangered LI historic structures issued

Exterior of St. Paul's School main building

Exterior of St. Paul's School main building in Garden City. (November 8, 2007) Photo Credit: Jim Peppler

Long Island's first-ever list of endangered historic structures ranges from a Colonial-era barn in Southampton to a 1930s Gold Coast mansion in Glen Cove.

Concluding that publicity is the best prevention against demolition for such significant structures, the nonprofit Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities placed five buildings on the list to generate some buzz.

"It's really about galvanizing interest and providing a forum for people to start talking about building solutions," said Alexandra Wolfe, the Cold Spring Harbor-based organization's preservation services director, who whittled the list from 12 nominations from preservation organizations and individuals across Long Island.

"Long Island's List of Endangered Sites," listed in order of age, includes the 1739 Sayer Barn in Southampton; St. Paul's School in Garden City; the Booker T. Washington House in Fort Salonga; the Canoe Place Inn in Hampton Bays; and Bogheid, a 1938 mansion in the Gold Coast area of Glen Cove.

The inn and school are threatened with demolition. The Washington house, for now, seems to have avoided that fate, though its future is uncertain. The two other structures are deteriorating.

The society's project is patterned on annual lists issued by the World Monuments Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Preservation League of New York, said Robert MacKay, the group's director. Those lists have helped save many structures by creating public support for restoration, he said.

"The thinking was that we have a region with historic resources that are valuable so we should have a list, too, and SPLIA would be the right organization to do it because we have a regional scope," Wolfe said.

MacKay hopes the list will lead to passage or strengthening of local landmark ordinances - particularly at the village level, because only about a dozen villages have ordinances.

The buildings selected for the first list "represent specific preservation issues on Long Island," Wolfe said.

"The Booker T. Washington House is a situation that happens frequently on Long Island where somebody buys a house and either doesn't know or is not interested in the fact that it's historic," she said. "The Sayer Barn is a situation where a historical museum just doesn't have the means to deliver what the building needs."

Of the five buildings, only the Washington house, with its local landmark designation, is protected from demolition. The Sayer Barn and St. Paul's School are on the National Register of Historic Places, but that does not prevent demolition. The remaining structures have no landmark protection.

Southampton Historical Museum executive director Tom Edmonds said his organization nominated the Sayer Barn because "the building is collapsing" and the museum alone cannot save it.

"We're a small organization and our budget is only $300,000 a year, and we would probably need $500,000 just to restore this one barn," Edmonds said. "We need the publicity to raise awareness in the community of what a gem we have, because most people have forgotten that Southampton was occupied by the British during the American Revolution."

The British soldiers kept their horses in the barn.

The inclusion of St. Paul's on the list "does not come as a surprise," said Robert Schoelle, administrator for the Village of Garden City. "It's a cherished structure not only within the village but obviously on Long Island."

Demolition is the only prospect left for the school, he said, as several alternate uses have been rejected.

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