Progress was made at a July 10 meeting of the Oyster Bay Landmarks Preservation Commission toward the restoration of the landmarked Colonial era Mill Pond House. After much discussion, the commission approved a request by the town to develop a concept for restoration of the house, which was built in 1653.
Timothy Zike, the deputy commissioner for the town’s Department of Planning and Development, and Douglas Wilke, a Glen Head architect and engineer hired by the town, spoke for nearly an hour, sharing the steps that have been taken to restore Mill Pond, as well as ideas on how to move forward.
“The town wants to bring it back to its post-Colonial-Revolutionary War look — 1730-1798,” Zike said. He added that the town has cut back vegetation on the property, fixed the fence and secured the site. “As the government tries to watch every penny, the town is asking permission to come up with a concept to show how the house can be restored.”
Mill Pond House, at West Main Street and West Shore Road in Oyster Bay, sits on two acres. Once owned by the Townsend family for decades, it is considered to be historically significant not only for the architecture, but also because of who owned it. An Oyster Bay relative, Robert Townsend, was a member of Gen. George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, which historians say was instrumental in winning the Revolutionary War.
The house has been in disrepair for many years and suffered two arson fires in March 2014.
Zike said the town would like to remove the 20th century additions and dormers made to the home, which is zoned as residential. “Mill Pond House is one of the oldest structures in Oyster Bay and was here even before our country was in existence,” Zike said. “How many pre-1700s, 1800s homes do you have that you can preserve?”
Commission members asked what future plans the town had for the building. “Is the intent to stabilize it, put it back on the market and let private funding finish the restoration to put it back on the tax rolls,” asked architect John Collins, a commission member.
Zike said the town had no plans other than the restoration. “We want to restore the shell of the house and fix up the bones of the structure itself,” he said. “We are looking for grant money and already did receive some funding from insurance after the fires there.”
Collins asked that commission memebers be given a site visit of the house after the cleanup, which was estimated to cost $25,000. Zike agreed.
The commission unanimously agreed that the town could move forward with conceptual plans for the house, but added that the plan needed to be shared at the next meeting of the commission in 30 days.
Tim Lee, a Cold Spring Harbor builder and one of the new owners of Snouder’s Corner Drug Store, which he purchased on April 30 with two partners, Claudia Taglich, of Oyster Bay, and Lenore Mahoney, of Sag Harbor, also appeared before the Oyster Bay Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Lee, the president and owner of TML Builders and Lee Land Development, who specializes in historic restoration, has committed to maintaining the original building, on the corner of South and West Main streets in the heart of Oyster Bay. Dating back to 1884, Snouders is the oldest operating business in the hamlet.
The commission gave him permission to apply for a permit from the town and to move forward with the exterior restoration. Lee said he couldn’t have been happier.
He plans to strip all the existing paint off the wood surfaces and to restore all of the deteriorated wood to return the building back to how it looked in the 1920s. Lee said he will also repair the broken windows, removing the Anderson windows from the south side of the building, and replacing them with custom windows with the same lite patterns seen in the historic photos of the building.
“They show a different light configuration than what is there now,” Lee explained. “The details of the modern windows don’t match the profiles that we have from the 1920s.”
Additionally, the asphalt roof will be replaced with a wood-shingle roof. And new steel-frame windows with lead glass will replace the windows on the front of the building.
Lee plans to paint the lime-green building a soft beige or white, perhaps painting the shutters blue, he said, to make it more inviting and nautical. He has yet to decide what will be included in the interior of the building, but said he will know soon.