Nassau County has been kicking the can of 1st Precinct redevelopment down the road for nearly eight years now. So long, in fact, that the building currently occupying the site may qualify as a landmark before new construction begins.
In early May, Nassau County issued a request for proposals for the construction of a 25,000-square-foot structure on the site of an antiques store adjacent to the existing 1st Precinct station house on Merrick Road. The county’s deadline for bids on the project is May 31.
But even as the county seeks construction proposals, a very different vision for the property has had time to take root. A group made up primarily of Baldwin Historical Society members, rallying loosely around the Facebook page “Save the Kellogg House,” is taking steps to have the Queen Anne-style building designated a landmark — a move that would presumably pre-empt plans to build a police facility on the grounds.
“We are moving forward with the first phase in construction of a new 1st Precinct,” County Executive Edward Mangano said recently of the new three-story police building, which is expected to cost between $9 million and $12 million. But given the rate at which the county has typically developed lagging areas of Baldwin, the folks behind Save the Kellogg House don’t exactly feel like they’re in a race against the clock.
“Anyone who has watched construction on Long Island knows that an RFP doesn’t mean shovels in the ground tomorrow,” said Arthur Rollin, 30, an architectural designer and preservationist who is taking an active role in the effort. Rollin, who was born and raised in Baldwin but who now lives in Brooklyn, has been involved in architectural preservation efforts before, but says this one is a bit more personal.
“We drove past it on a daily basis going to school,” said Rollin, who attended St. Christopher’s and Chaminade High School before heading to Boston College. “The Kellogg House is one of a kind in that it’s remained true to its original construction. Even before I began to learn about architecture, I knew it was a special place.”
Rollin has suggested that the house may have two legitimate claims to landmark status, an idea echoed by his partners in the project, Karen Montalbano of the Baldwin Civic Association and Doris Lister of the Baldwin Historical Society. The first, obviously, is its age and attractiveness. The house was built in 1901 for a decorated Civil War veteran named George Sumner Kellogg (see sidebar). But Rollin and his group believe that the fact that the house served as an antiques store and flea market for three decades will also bolster their case.
“That flea market brought hundreds of thousands of people to Baldwin,” Rollin said, “That doesn’t happen all that often.” He said he believes that people in Nassau County have come to identify the Kellogg house with Baldwin, which would underscore its claim on landmark status.
Asked if the house is in good enough condition to preserve, Rollin was optimistic. “I can’t get in right now,” he said. “But I believe it’s structurally sound.” The designer, who is working with Montalbano, Lister and the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities to seek official landmark status, says some of the other reclamations with which he has been associated were even more ambitious. By way of example, Rollin pointed to his work with the Jershua Dewey Cottage in Roslyn, a property built in 1840 that was abandoned for 50 years, but has now been refurbished and is operated as a place of historic significance by Nassau County.
“It’s called an ‘envelope restoration,’” Rollin said of the process by which he envisions reclaiming the Kellogg house. He explained that the preservation of the exterior would be a priority, and also said, “the Kellogg house is in much better shape than the Jershua Dewey Cottage was.”
Rollin and his group do not have a concrete vision for a post-restoration Kellogg house. He and Montalbano mentioned that it could showcase the Baldwin Historical