Blue Point civic leaders say one of the South Shore hamlet’s oldest houses fell victim last month to Long Island’s plague of abandoned homes.
The two-story house had stood along Montauk Highway, just east of Nicolls Road in Bayport, for more than 150 years before it was torn down on July 26 by Brookhaven Town. Officials said the structure, one of dozens of houses demolished by the town in recent years due to safety issues, had become an occasional haven for squatters and drug abusers.
But some residents regret that the home, which once had a Dutch brick oven and a driveway paved with clam shells, had been razed.
“We don’t have that many homes left that predate the Civil War,” Blue Point historian Gene Horton said. “That was one of the few we had left.”
Ed Silsbe, president of the Blue Point Community Civic Association, said the town should have tried harder to save the house instead of tearing it down.
“The problem is, at least as far as how it’s been done here in Blue Point, there’s no account taken for historical significance,” Silsbe said. “It would have made sense to save this 150-year-old house [and] give another owner an incentive” to preserve it.
Town Councilman Neil Foley, who represents Blue Point, defended the decision, saying the town had little choice but to tear down a house that had been “an eyesore and a blighted property for well over 10 years.”
Town officials said the home had been cited for numerous building code violations since 2014.
“It’s always a sad story. That was always somebody’s home,” said Foley, who lives in Blue Point. “Unfortunately, our job is quality of life. It’s never a good day when we take down somebody’s house.”
Foley said the house was not in foreclosure but had been vacated years ago by its owners. He said the town’s attempts to contact the owners were unsuccessful, and no one responded to the town’s warnings that the house would be demolished.
Foley said he has received calls from people interested in buying the house, which is in a business district adjacent to a car wash, a bank and a fast-food restaurant.
Silsbe said a person who lived in the house served as an unofficial caretaker. “He would kick out the bad people,” he said.
Horton said he understood why officials condemned the house, but said it was “a big loss for local history.”
“I just wish we could have saved it earlier,” he said. “It’s too bad it wasn’t 10 years ago, when the house was salvageable.”