The fate of a nearly 300-year-old home in Plandome Manor was sealed Thursday morning when a demolition crew knocked down the historic structure, months after the village and local preservationists unsuccessfully attempted to relocate the house.
“Ultimately, the purpose was to save a piece of American history, part of that home dates back to the 1730s,” said Tom Lang, a village resident and member of the Richardson House Committee, whose goal was to save the structure. “We saw it as a permanent reminder of our past.”
The bright red Cape Cod-style home, located at 149 Circle Dr. in the heart of Plandome Manor, was built in New England in the 1730s and transported by boat to the village in the 1920s.
After a developer purchased the property in 2021 with the intention to demolish the home and build another structure on the lot, village officials and some locals sought to move the house to an empty village-owned lot about 1,000 feet away at 31 Circle Dr., where it would be repurposed as a new village hall. Officials said the current Village Hall, at 55 Manhasset Ave. in Manhasset, was becoming too small for daily operations and the move would save taxpayers money in the long run.
In April, the village held a referendum that called for the issuance of a $600,000 bond to finance the acquisition and relocation of the Richardson House. The bond was defeated 119-87 as a group of Circle Drive residents strongly opposed the relocation of Village Hall, citing potential traffic, flooding and loss of green space.
Village Superintendent of Buildings Edward Butt said he was disappointed with the outcome and lamented that the house couldn’t be repurposed into a new village hall.
“What’s nice about government buildings is they do stand the test of time because they’re there forever and it would’ve been a nice resting place, only 1,000 feet from where it was, as community building that could’ve been shared by everyone,” he said.
After the vote, Lang said supporters of the home tried to contact investors to potentially fund the relocation, but their efforts were futile.
“When the community showed disinterest in trying to preserve American history, the investors said 'no thank you,'” Lang told Newsday Thursday.
For the past three weeks, historic preservation contractor Jeremiah G. McGiff, owner of wild boar restoration in Brookhaven, has been salvaging parts of the house to use on other historic homes. He removed 11 double-hung windows with original 1730 timber frames, 19 doors, five timber wood frames and two original mantels, among other items. McGiff was at the house Thursday to collect beams and post before the demolition.
The front door will be used on a home in Setauket, which dates back to 1731, and one of the beams will go to another historic home in Rocky Point, McGiff noted.
“It’s all going to get put back in historic houses around Long Island,” McGiff said. “It didn't end up in a dumpster.”