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Brookhaven to spend $200G to build Coram's Mott House tribute

The historic Albert Mott house in Coram suffered

The historic Albert Mott house in Coram suffered an unexpected demise when it collapsed while undergoing maintenance. Photo Credit: Handout

Brookhaven Town will spend up to $200,000 and use pieces salvaged from the collapsed Mott House to erect a new building in the style of the historic 19th century Coram structure that caved in last month as contract workers hired by the town were in the process of cleaning the building.

Supervisor Mark Lesko Tuesday also declared a state of emergency at the Davis House, another historic structure in Coram built in the 1750s, to halt ongoing renovation work there and assess its structural integrity. And he announced that Carol Bissonette, the deputy parks commissioner who has worked with local historical societies on preservation projects, would be relieved of that duty.

Attempts to reach Bissonette were not successful.

Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who represents the Coram area, said she hopes an ongoing town investigation into the cause of the Mott House's collapse will clarify the circumstances.

"Not to punish, but because we don't want to repeat what happened in the past," she said.

The new building will serve as a center for the Greater Gordon Heights Chamber of Commerce, which was the plan for the renovated original building, and will be built in partnership with community service group Long Island Homebuilders Care.

The group will pay for labor and design, while the town will cover materials, Lesko said. The rebuild, he said, will cost taxpayers no more than the approximately $200,000 the town had appropriated for refurbishing the building.

"Out of that tragedy we want to create a symbol of hope and community," Lesko told a group of about 60 residents, politicians and builders on the Mott House site, now a patch of dirt and sand surrounded by a chain-link fence.

Community activists in nearby Gordon Heights - outraged when the 185-year-old structure at the intersection of Homestead Drive and Middle Country Road collapsed - praised plans for the new building, which officials say is a tribute to the original Mott House. Town officials said the project will soon enter the design phase. Gordon Heights Civic Association president Tawaun Weber said the new center will help "rectify the situation."

But other residents questioned whether the town should take on the cost of buying materials for the project.

"Who is paying for a six-figure community center in these tough economic times?" said Rosalie Hanson, a local anti-tax advocate. "Who is going to pay to maintain this?"

The Mott House was home to Albert Mott, a 19th century seaman who lived there with his family. The town was planning to renovate the site, which was littered with squatters' debris and dead animals, and had hired contractors to clean it up.

Some local residents said workers were removing pieces of the house - including its doors, windows and cabinets. The home then fell apart on Sept. 23. Much of the debris was taken to the town landfill before it could be examined for historical significance, officials said.

Salvaged pieces of the house include six doors, 20 windows and a cornerstone block. The town is keeping the parts in a parks department storage area.

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