Chris Byrne, who bought the Elaine de Kooning House and...

Chris Byrne, who bought the Elaine de Kooning House and Studio in East Hampton, said its recognition as a historic site would help cement de Kooning's place in artistic lore.  Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The two houses are 81 miles away from one another and were built more than 250 years apart.

But the John Jackson II home in Wantagh and painter Elaine de Kooning's house and studio in East Hampton share at least one thing in common: Both are among 21 New York sites nominated for the state and national registers of historic places.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the nominations on Dec. 10. State Parks and Recreation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid is expected to decide next year whether to include the houses on the state register and nominate them for federal recognition.

Inclusion on the registers makes properties eligible for financial assistance aimed at preserving historic sites, officials said.

Both privately owned, the houses have unique qualities that made their inhabitants fall in love with them.

John Jackson II House, Wantagh

Beth Obergh outside the John Jackson II House in Wantagh, which...

Beth Obergh outside the John Jackson II House in Wantagh, which she bought it in 2016. Built between 1690 and 1710, the house belonged to a grandson of Hempstead Town founder Robert Jackson, state officials said.  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Beth Obergh grew up in a family of history buffs, so she knew about the Jackson house even before she bought it in 2016.

Built between 1690 and 1710, the house belonged to a grandson of Hempstead Town founder Robert Jackson, state officials said. Though modified with modern touches over the years, it retains much of its original design — such as the "front door" in the middle of the house.

"Nothing fits, nothing's square," said Obergh, 54, a pediatric physical therapist. "The little challenges make it really fun. ... It’s definitely different to live in a quirky old house."

The Jacksons were related by marriage to the Jones family, which owned what is now Jones Beach, and were active in revolutionary politics during Colonial times, Obergh said. One family member was murdered in the house in part because he supported independence from Great Britain, she said.

Obergh, who lives in the house with her son, Andrew, 25, and daughter, Rachel, 23, has put her own stamp on the house: A passage from "To Kill a Mockingbird" is inscribed on a staircase.

"We love showing off the house because it’s so cool," she said. "I could go on for four days about doors."

Elaine de Kooning House and Studio, East Hampton

The Elaine de Kooning Studio is available to artists for residencies...

The Elaine de Kooning Studio is available to artists for residencies and exhibitions. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Located on Alewive Brook Road in the tiny hamlet of Northwest Harbor, the house was de Kooning's residence and workplace for the last 14 years of her life before she died in 1989.

She bought the house in 1975, about eight years after it was built, and created some of her masterpieces there, such as her "Cave Paintings" and "High Wall," and portraits of soccer star Pele and music producer Berry Gordy.

The house is available to artists for residencies and exhibitions.

Chris Byrne, 57, an artist and graphic novelist who bought the house in 2010, said its recognition as a historic site would help cement de Kooning's place in artistic lore. She often was overshadowed by her husband, acclaimed painter Willem de Kooning, but her reputation grew during the years she lived in the house, Byrne said.

"The scholarship and art history [are]... catching up to her," he said. "She’s just kind of done everything in terms of being an artist and expressing herself."

NYC sites nominated for state, federal registers of historic places

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced 21 New York sites were nominated for the state and federal registers of historic places, including four in New York City:

John James Audubon Houses, Amsterdam Avenue and 155th Street, Manhattan

Public housing project built in 1962 by the city Housing Authority.

Lillian Wald Residence, Henry Street, Manhattan

Wald, a 19th-century and early 20th-century nurse and reformer, is credited with starting the city's school lunch program and classrooms for special needs children.

Mary McLeod Bethune Houses, Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan

Opened in 1967, one of the first federally funded high-rises for senior citizens.

Ridgewood Fresh Pond Road-Myrtle Avenue Historic District, Queens

Includes more than 400 buildings that reflect the neighborhood's rapid growth around 1900.

SOURCE: Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

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