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Time running out for Hauppauge landmark building

Time might be running out for a group of residents hoping to save a 130-year-old Hauppauge landmark from being demolished during the first phase of the Route 347 renovation.

The former Knights of Columbus building, also known as Hauppauge Village Hall, is located on a wedge of land west of Route 111 at the Routes 347/454 split. It was designated landmark status by the Town of Islip in 1976. The state Department of Transportation, the current owner, plans to demolish the white-shingled structure if it is not moved off its current location by June 1.

According to Paul Borowski, a Hauppauge resident leading the charge to save the building, and historian Noel Gish, chairman of the Smithtown Historical Review Board, moving it locally would cost $30,000 to $40,000. The bigger problem, they say, is finding a home for it. The building now sits on Islip Town property.

One possibility is Hauppauge School District property, Borowski said. The district said it is looking into the feasibility of accepting the building, considering the short time frame and State Education Department building requirements.

"Once the school board has all the necessary information, we will be able to make an appropriate decision," the district said in a statement.

Suffolk Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (R-Nesconset) and State Sen. Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) have promised to find funding for the project.

"We want to take what is a historic structure and save it from the wrecking ball," Kennedy said.

The DOT said it was in negotiations for years with the Knights of Columbus to acquire the land for its "Green NY Route 347 Safety and Mobility Improvement" project, which will add pedestrian and cycling lanes and improve traffic flow along the notoriously congested road. The state agreed to "convey" the building to the county as long as it is moved from its present location, a spokeswoman said.

According to records, the structure was built in 1880 as the private home of Mary and Moses Smith, and was sold in 1887 to the Perseverance Lodge of Good Templars, a prohibition group. In the 1930s, it was used as a village meeting place for Hauppauge residents during the community's agricultural days before being sold to the Knights of Columbus in 1977 for $25,000, records state.

An Islip spokesman said an official plans to visit the building soon to see whether renovations done would strip it of its historic designation.

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