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Miller Place namesake home gets new roof and repairs

An anonymous donor and an eighth-grade student helped raise the $18,000 needed for repairs to protect the 300-year-old structure.

Erik Palacios, left, and Philip Hoffmann of Ultimate

Erik Palacios, left, and Philip Hoffmann of Ultimate Exteriors work to replace the roof of the three-century-old Miller House in Miller Place Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

The historic house that gave Miller Place its name has a better chance of reaching its 300th anniversary after residents and businesses raised $18,000 for a new roof.

Workers from Ultimate Exteriors of Patchogue last week started tearing down the William Miller House’s deteriorating roof and installing cedar shake shingles. The new roof should be finished this week or next, depending on the weather, officials said.

Efforts to raise money to fix the North Country Road house — built around 1720 and believed to be the hamlet’s oldest home — had stalled early in 2017, said Gerard Mannarino, treasurer of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society, which owns the site.

He said interest in the repair project perked up after a May 31 Newsday story described the house’s decline, including broken windows, peeling paint and rotting window frames.

“All of a sudden it started to fall into place,” Mannarino said. “We had a few people who provided some money and then we were fortunate we didn’t have any big expenses, so we were able to take money that we would have used for events and we put it toward the roof.”

An anonymous donor pledged to give $1 for every $2 raised for the project, Mannarino said. Contributions from banks and local residents helped raise $12,000 — and the unnamed donor kicked in $6,000.

Among the donors was Jack Soldano, 13, an eighth-grade student at Miller Place Middle School who raised $1,230 by selling thousands of comic books that had been given to him by his grandfather, Angelo Soldano, when he closed his store, Dockside Hobbies and Crafts in Port Washington.

Jack Soldano said the Miller House is special to him for annual events such as the Spooky Lantern Tour in October and “Postman Pete,” who collects letters addressed to the North Pole.

“It was kind of like my bat signal,” he said of reading stories about the roof project. “I realized I had all these comic books . . . and I decided to sell them.”

The fundraising campaign was promoted on social media, and by Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine and Councilwoman Jane Bonner on the town’s cable television channel. Bonner said she obtained a $500 donation from PSEG Long Island.

“The historic district in Miller Place has a very Currier and Ives feel,” Bonner said, referring to the U.S. printmakers noted for their rural scenes from the 1800s. “It is the namesake for Miller Place and it’s only fitting that this is happening.”

The community’s efforts paid off last month when the shingles were delivered about two weeks before Christmas. Mannarino said the new roof will help preserve a treasured link to the community’s past.

“We even had Santa Claus come and pose for a picture with us with the shingles,” Mannarino said. “Just to know that we don’t have to worry about the snow and the rain getting in and destroying everything, it’s just a relief.”

William Miller House:

Built: About 1720 by William Miller, a member of the family for which Miller Place is named.

Sold: 1979, to the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society, by Harry Millard, last lineal descendant of William Miller.

Purpose: Historical society offices.

The house, open for weekly tours in summer, houses objects from the 18th and 19th centuries, such as jars, sleds, furniture and medical instruments.

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