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Landmark status eyed for Maine Maid Inn

The 223-year-old Maine Maid Inn in Jericho served

The 223-year-old Maine Maid Inn in Jericho served as a post office before it became a stagecoach stop and then a restaurant in 1950. Credit: Mario Gonzalez

Oyster Bay not only is likely to designate the Maine Maid Inn in Jericho a landmark but will also look into buying the 222-year-old structure to preserve it, Supervisor John Venditto said yesterday.

His comments came at the close of a town board hearing on the landmark designation that was supported by 14 speakers.

While the board made no decision in order to allow for additional written comment, Venditto said, "I doubt seriously that anyone would take issue with its historical importance."

The house was built for prominent Quaker Valentine Hicks, the second president of the Long Island Rail Road and a former postmaster, and is thought to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. It became a restaurant in 1950 and has been empty and deteriorating for more than two years.

Venditto told commissioner of planning and development Frederick Ippolito to look into purchasing the property with town environmental bond funds. Ippolito said the property probably could be acquired for about $700,000.

The town could then find a restaurant operator to run it, Venditto said. Matthew Meng, president of the East Norwich Civic Association, which sought landmark status for the building on Old Jericho Turnpike to protect it from possible demolition, said several potential operators have come forward, including a company that offers historical theater productions.

Georgia-based Ciena Capital has begun foreclosure proceedings against building owner Rajiv Sharma and in a May letter to the town objected to landmark designation.

But Ippolito said landmark status "only protects the outside of the building" while allowing for interior renovations.

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