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Hempstead Town considers sites for local landmark status

Hempstead Town is looking into landmarking the Soldiers

Hempstead Town is looking into landmarking the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Denton Homestead in East Rockaway and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale may become Hempstead Town’s latest historic landmarks.

The Denton Homestead already is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but the Soldiers and Sailors Monument — which honors Civil War veterans — is not, town officials said. Neither had been given local historic status.

By making them into town historic landmarks, the sites and structures are in essence “preserved forever,” officials said. “No alteration, construction or other work” can be done on the structures without permission of the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The board will listen to public comment on the proposed designation at its April 25 meeting. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has recommended both projects to the town board.

“The Denton Homestead, already on the National Register of Historic Places, played a vital role in the growth of the East Rockaway community from generation to generation,” Supervisor Anthony Santino said in a statement. “And the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is dedicated to soldiers who served in the Civil War, and also helps to educate future generations on U.S. history.”

The Denton Homestead was a tavern built in 1795 that attracted local sailors, fishermen and travelers who came to Long Island through its South Shore ports, town officials said. In 1808, Oliver Denton bought the tavern and converted it into a homestead.

At the time, Denton was one of the town’s largest landowners, town officials said, and his family was “instrumental in the planning and development of the East Rockaway community.”

The tavern was moved several times during periods of road construction. It’s now a 2 1⁄2 -story Colonial house on Denton Avenue owned and occupied by Ellen Morrison, 55, who has lobbied for the historic designation.

“When you walk into the home, you can just see the character and the charm,” she said. “I wanted to preserve the house.”

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, erected in 1888, was sculpted by Karl Gerhardt, who cast similar monuments in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The monument depicts a uniformed soldier and his gun standing atop a tall column. Civil War veterans are buried in the cemetery, although town officials said they do not know how many.

Nassau County Historical Society President Natalie Naylor said town officials did not consult her organization about landmark status for the sites, but the group would support the designations.

“It brings recognition to them and makes people aware of the history around them,” she said.

INSIDE THE HOUSE

Ellen Morrison, 55, bought the Denton Homestead in East Rockaway in 2004, drawn to its hand-carved mantle, big tavern windows and iron latches in place of doorknobs.

The house was built in 1795 as a tavern, Morrison said, adding that she and her family are the home’s “third owner in 220 years.”

She’s working to secure a historic landmark designation from Hempstead Town so developers don’t buy the land in years to come and tear it down.

“East Rockaway is turning so commercial,” she said. “I just want to save this home.”

— Stefanie Dazio

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