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Historic farmhouse in E. Islip to be razed

An exterior view of the historic Hollins Farm

An exterior view of the historic Hollins Farm House, now sitting abandonded and in disrepair in East Islip. (May 1, 2012) Credit: Daniel Brennan

The owner of the Hollins Farm House in East Islip has the green light to bulldoze the historic home and build a small subdivision on the 5-acre site.

The Islip Planning Board voted 5-1 last week to remove a 2001 covenant that required owner Robert McGrath and Meadow Farm Estates Llc of Holbrook to maintain and restore the house in order to build three other homes there. Planning board member Michael Kennedy abstained from the vote.

Chairman Joe DeVincent highlighted the unsafe condition of the house. He also noted how it had been gutted of historical elements through the years and become a magnet for mischief, as reasons to lift the covenant.

DeVincent said the town's lack of a historic preservation ordinance or district "really limits the powers we have to enforce preservation." The board is "disappointed by the deterioration of the structure," he added.

Four East Islip residents who have advocated for saving the house on Blackmore Lane came to Town Hall for the decision.

"It's not over," Meredith Maxwell, a member of the East Islip Historical Society, said after the vote. Maxwell agreed the sagging house needs to come down, but she blamed McGrath and previous owners for letting it decay.

Maxwell said she wrote the town asking that they require McGrath to preserve the land where the 7,000-square-foot farmhouse sits instead of building a new home there. "You have the ability to correct this, and the way you correct it is by staying loyal to the historic heritage," she said.

Instead, planning Commissioner Dave Genaway said the department would recommend removing the covenant if Meadow Farm Estates pays $50,000 to help restore historic Brookwood Hall in East Islip, about a mile away. Genaway said the owner would also place a historic marker on the property and include architectural elements from the original farmhouse in the home that could eventually be built in its place.

McGrath's attorney, Raymond Giusto, said his client agreed to the conditions.

Parts of the farmhouse, owned by railroad magnate and banker H.B. Hollins in the early 1900s, date to the mid-1800s, Kathy Montgomery of the historical society said.

Genaway said the planning board denied two earlier requests to remove the covenant.

It was not clear Friday when demolition would begin.

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