The former blacksmith shop is in a 1909 building on Gerard...

The former blacksmith shop is in a 1909 building on Gerard Street in Huntington village that has been saved from demolition. Credit: Rick Kopstein

A wood-frame building built in 1909 that served as a blacksmith shop in what is now downtown Huntington has been rescued from demolition, with a plan to make it a historic landmark and preserve its exterior. 

The Edward Place Blacksmith Shop building at 9 Gerard St. was among three or four blacksmith shops populating downtown Huntington when horses provided the primary means of transportation.

Today the two-story gable roofed structure is the last survivor of a bygone era and a historic connection to the blacksmith trade, said Robert Hughes, Huntington town historian and chairman of the town’s historic preservation commission.

“Given its location in what was a sleepy part of the town until 10 or 15 years ago, when the area started to get a lot of redevelopment pressure and the smaller older wood frame buildings like this typically didn’t survive,” he said. “It is remarkable it's still here.”

In September members of the commission got wind of a plan for the building, which was for sale, to be torn down and the remaining empty parcel turned into a parking lot.

The commission moved quickly to try and give it a local historic designation, which prevents the structure from being demolished and ensures any exterior changes are in keeping with the historic character of the building, Hughes said.

In November the commission voted to recommend to the town board that the building be given the designation as a Huntington historic landmark. A public hearing will be held before the town board Feb. 6. to discuss the recommendation. 

Developer Timothy Lee, left, discusses his plans for renovating a...

Developer Timothy Lee, left, discusses his plans for renovating a former blacksmith shop in Huntington with Town Historian Robert Hughes on Tuesday. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Meanwhile, Cold Spring Harbor based-developer Timothy Lee heard about the parking lot plan in November and bought the building, closing on it last week. He said he’s an archaeologist of sorts with an interest in historic preservation.

“These old structures are a piece of history that get lost forever when we don’t preserve them,” he said. “It’s very important to preserve these structures that a lot of developers are just getting rid of.”

The building, along with its original windows, floors, architectural details and distinctive red shingles, will be restored to its former glory, Lee said.

The interior will be renovated to accommodate a commercial business on the first floor with two one-bedroom apartments on the second floor.

Lee said he has restored numerous buildings over his 46-year career in New York City and across Long Island, including Snouder’s Corner Drug Store and the Oyster Bay Rail Road and Raynham Hall museums, all in Oyster Bay.

The Edward Place Blacksmith Shop originally stood on the east side of New York Avenue north of Gerard Street. In 1911 the building was moved to its current location onto property that the Place family owned. Another owner bought it in 1979, lived and worked there.

It qualifies for historic designation under town code, officials said, for several reasons, including that it “possesses special character, or historic or aesthetic interest, or value as part of the broad cultural, political, economic or social history of the Town, region, state or nation.”

Hughes said while horses were used for transportation and farm work, as Huntington became more prosperous and attracted more wealthy residents, they took on another role.

“Horses became for racing and showing,” he said. “Being a blacksmith and having access to a blacksmith, who spent most of their time shoeing horses, was very important, as much as you need a service station for your car, you needed a blacksmith.”

At a glance

  • Town of Huntington officials will consider giving historic designation to the building that was once the Edward Place Blacksmith shop on Gerard Street.
  • Built in 1909, the structure is one of the few wood-frame buildings remaining downtown. It was most recently used as a residence and contractor's workshop.
  • The public hearing for the historic recommendation is set for Feb. 6.
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