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Lindenhurst historians mourn loss of village’s industrial past

A developer looking to build on the site

A developer looking to build on the site of Lindenhurst's oldest industrial building says he won't be able to salvage the structure. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

A developer looking to build on the site of Lindenhurst’s oldest industrial building won’t be able to salvage the 1895 structure, a decision that’s left local historians mourning the loss of the last piece of the village’s industrial past.

Tritec Real Estate of East Setauket has proposed building 260 multifamily rental units on the site of what is currently Lakeville Kitchen and Bath on East Hoffman Avenue, across from the Long Island Rail Road station. The building began as the Vulcanite Manufacturing Co., which produced buttons, costume jewelry and small metal items.

“We try to incorporate historic elements of the communities into the design of the building and when possible we do try to save the buildings,” said Tritec co-owner Bob Coughlan, pointing to a 100-year-old building saved in the company’s Patchogue development. “In this particular case [the Vulcanite building], unfortunately, the condition of the building and some of the remediation that needs to go on precludes us from keeping the building.”

Declining to detail the work required, Coughlan said the building needs to be remediated because of the presence of certain “older” materials, including asbestos.

The Vulcanite building is the last vestige of Lindenhurst’s manufacturing heyday, historians say, harking back to a time when the village was a hub of factories.

“It’s the only building remaining that symbolizes our industrial past,” said Anna Jaeger, village historian.

Jaeger and others had lobbied village officials to preserve the facade of the building and incorporate its arched windows into the new design.

Coughlan said his company is going to use a large steel door from the basement of the building and turn it into an art piece in the new development’s lobby. He said the developer also will incorporate archways similar to the existing building’s arches going into a courtyard in the middle of the building.

“We’re trying to acknowledge history through the design process,” he said.

Historians weren’t appeased.

“It’s unacceptable,” Marianne Guglieri, president of the village’s historical society, said of the building’s loss, adding it could have served as a visual history lesson for village youth.

“It seems like every historic building in the village has been taken down with a wrecking ball,” Jaeger said.

Coughlan said his company would be happy to meet with the historians and share with them any salvageable parts of the building. Guglieri said her organization will push for the village to form an advisory board for the project “to make sure something of that old building is preserved.”

The redevelopment consists of three- and four-floor buildings, with units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, as well as a fitness facility, pool, lounges and outside barbecue areas.

The company has not yet applied to the village to build the development pending the creation of a Downtown Redevelopment District “floating zone,” which would allow for nonsenior, multiresidence zoning. Lindenhurst officials are exploring the language of the new zoning code, but Coughlan said he hopes it will be completed within the next few months and, pending village board approvals, to start construction in 2018.

Vulcanite Manufacturing Co.

  • Employed more than 100 men and women at a time when the village’s population was only 3,000 people.
  • Received the first telephone in the community, in 1895. It was used to relay the local results of the 1896 election to the outside world.
  • Reminded residents of the time three times daily with a distinctive whistle that rang out at 7:10 a.m. for the beginning of the workday, 1:10 p.m. for the continuation of work following lunch, and 6:10 p.m. to mark the end of the work day.

Source: Lindenhurst Village Historian Anna Jaeger

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