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Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos' former home considered for Brookhaven Town landmark status

The Center Moriches house on Sedgemere Road, once

The Center Moriches house on Sedgemere Road, once owned by Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, is under consideration for Brookhaven Town landmark status. Credit: Ed Betz

A century-old Center Moriches house once owned by Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, may become Long Island's newest landmark.

Making the Lindenmere estate a Brookhaven Town landmark would save the tree-lined home overlooking Moriches Bay from efforts to develop the 8.2-acre property, though no such plan is under consideration, officials said.

The town board could approve the landmark plan Thursday after a 6:30 public hearing at Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville.

Brookhaven Historic District Advisory Committee member Suzanne McKeon said the panel unanimously endorsed landmark status for the estate, named for the linden trees that line its driveway.

"It's one of the few estates that has not been touched as far as being subdivided and chopped up," said McKeon, a member of the Center Moriches Chamber of Commerce. "It's a beautiful spot."

Once a hotel, the privately owned estate on Sedgemere Road has 14 rooms, 17 bathrooms -- some with 24-karat-gold faucets -- and a marble-and-glass pool house with wood imported from the Philippines by the home's best-known former owners.

Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos owned the house for about six years until it was seized by the Philippine government after the 1986 coup that deposed them. The government sold it in 1996 for a reported $1.6 million.

The estate was one of many American holdings believed to have been purchased by the Marcoses with money looted during their rule. Imelda Marcos rarely stayed at the house, and her husband is believed to never have visited it.

Many Center Moriches residents view the estate as a treasured local asset, and a mere footnote to the Marcos story.

"I've never had anyone interpret the history negatively with regard to the property," said Brookhaven Councilman Dan Panico, who represents the community. "Most people are in awe of the beauty and the fact that the property has survived so long. . . . History is not always a rosy picture."

Attempts to reach the current owners, listed in records as Keith and Jacqueline Hennessey, were unsuccessful.

Panico said the landmark designation would preserve the property from what he called "wild ideas" for developing it. That designation means the house and property can remain in private ownership but can't be changed. "This is not an area for tiki bars or anything of that sort," Panico said. "The town has no other interest than in preserving our history."

Jane Koropsak, vice president of the Moriches Bay Civic Association, said the estate survived the devastating 1938 hurricane known as the Long Island Express and was home in the 1940s to workers at then-new Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton.

"It would be great if they could preserve that as a piece of history," Koropsak said. "It's a majestic piece of land."


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