Baldwinites awoke last Friday to a long-awaited sight — the beginning of restoration work on the historic Kellogg House on Merrick Road. “This is absolutely great,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, of Baldwin, said as she toured the work.
Starting at 7:30 a.m., County Department of Public Works employees began tearing off the old roof to make way for a new, but historically accurate, one to protect the house’s interior from bad weather. Jim Moore, the project manager, said the new roof shingles would be diamond-patterned and that the work would take six weeks.
The work will require more time than most roofs, Moore said, because workers must take extra precautions not to damage the house, and the shingles must be ordered from a specialty supplier. A temporary roof was placed over the house until the shingles are delivered, Moore said.
The county is looking to replace the house’s windows and repaint the exterior by the end of the summer, Deputy County Executive Brian Schneider said, but those plans are not yet final. “But just seeing this get done is fantastic,” Schneider said. “It’s a long time coming.” After the exterior is fixed, he added, the county plans to restore the inside and turn the house into a museum that could also be rented to nonprofits for fundraising events.
Those events, Schneider said, could benefit the restoration of other historic sites throughout the county. The Baldwin Civic Association and the Baldwin Historical Society have also expressed interest in using the Kellogg House, at 960 Merrick Road, as a community center. “We’re looking forward to it becoming a community resource.” Darien Ward, the civic association’s president, said.
Architect Walter I. Halliday built the Kellogg House at the request of Civil War veteran George Sumner Kellogg, who bought the lot in 1899. Among its defining characteristics are its irregular form and window placement and wraparound porch — features typical of Queen Anne-style homes built around that time. The house was completed in 1901.
Similar grand houses on Merrick and other roads were demolished and replaced with commercial and subdivided properties in the mid- to late 20th century, but the Baldwin Historical Society and other community groups fought to preserve the Kellogg House, now owned by Nassau County. The house — added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2017 — was once proposed as a site for the Nassau County Police Department’s 1st Precinct.
Architect Arthur Rollin, who grew up in Baldwin but now lives in Poughkeepsie, said the house was special because it remained untouched through the years. “Even the bathrooms, except for maybe the sinks, are the same as when it was first built,” Rollin said. “We have a few houses around there that date back to the early 20th century, but none of them are unmodified. That’s special.”
Karen Montalbano, the historical society’s vice president, said she was “fairly confident” that the structure’s historical character would not be altered during the restoration. “I think Nassau County understands what they have here,” Montalbano said.
In recent years, the house has been unused and in a state of disrepair. Gary Farkash, the historical society’s president, said the group had received numerous inquiries about its status. “And we never had an answer until maybe a few weeks ago,” Farkash said, before thanking County Legislator Debra Mulé, a Freeport Democrat, for pushing the project through. “She heard us and helped us out a lot,” he added.
Mulé said that the home’s restoration was part of Baldwin’s redevelopment — pointing to the Grand Avenue Complete Streets project, which includes a controversial “road diet,” and the Town of Hempstead’s proposed mixed-use overlay zoning district as the other improvements coming to the area. “It brings Baldwin back to its roots,” Mulé said of the Kellogg House, “and into the future. This is a great thing.”
State Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, a Rockville Centre Democrat, has requested state funding to help pay for further restoration of the house. “I’m hopeful we will get the financial assistance that we need from the state to revitalize this local treasure that holds much historical significance to the Baldwin community,” Griffin, who previously lived in Baldwin, wrote in an email.