A mid-19th century Cold Spring Harbor farmhouse suffered extensive damage in an early-morning fire Wednesday, leaving the family that has owned it for generations heartbroken.
"It's a lot of memories," said Frank D'Amelio Jr., 51, of Lloyd Harbor, who spent part of his childhood in the house. "It's just a sad day for us."
The Huntington Fire Department responded to the 21/2- story farmhouse on Woodbury Road at 1:28 a.m., said Huntington Fire Department Assistant Chief Robert Berry. The fire was controlled within an hour, with about 80 volunteers from surrounding areas. There was no one in the house at the time and no one was injured. Officials are unsure what caused the fire, Berry said.
D'Amelio Jr. said his grandfather bought the 6-acre property around 1961 and converted it from a dairy farm to a horse farm. D'Amelio Jr.'s father, Frank D'Amelio Sr., 73, who now owns the farm and lives next door, made repairs while D'Amelio Jr., who was born in the house, trained and bred the horses, he said.
Dean, 46, D'Amelio Jr.'s brother, who also lives next door, worked on the farm, too. Their uncle Michael, 71, was living in the farmhouse but is currently in Florida, he said.
Under the D'Amelio family, the property was known as Crest Farms. Before that, it went by a few names, including Rowland Farm and Cedar Cliff Dairy, said Robert Hughes, Huntington Town historian.
The farm property also encompasses three stables, a guest cottage and a building once used to store cows' milk. Aside from some melting of the milk house windows, those structures were not damaged.
D'Amelio Jr.'s grandfather, who ran the farm, stopped its commercial operation when his wife died in 1994. He died in 2006. This summer, the family had been renovating and planning to reopen the farm as a research and development site for their Hauppauge-based company Bio-Botanica's equestrian supplement product line called Kentucky Blue, the family said.
Onetime Olympic wrestler Lou Giani, 78, of Huntington, was with the family Wednesday afternoon, recalling his time as a landscaper on the farm with D'Amelio Jr.'s grandfather.
"We worked around the farm together," he said. "We worked hard."
While fire officials say there is extensive damage to the house, the family plans to try to rebuild. "We'd like to maintain the integrity of the house," D'Amelio Jr. said. "It's a family house and means a lot to us."