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Oyster Bay Haunted by House

The Mill Pond house is located at the intersection of West Shore Road and West Main Street in the hamlet of Oyster Bay, and was purchased by the Town of Oyster Bay (TOB) from Charles Wang for $1.9 million in 2008. Wang’s company had bought it just seven years before that for $785,000. Its history goes back to 1672 and was owned by the Townsend Family for several generations. Since becoming Oyster Bay property, there have been estimates as high as $5 million needed for its restoration. In the meantime, the house has been vandalized and set afire, and finally required security fencing erected around it.

Landmarked by TOB in 1976, one wonders when a historical property is too deteriorated to save.

The Leader contacted the Town Press Office to ask about current plans for the property, and received this response from Brian Nevin, “This month, the Town Board is anticipated to approve a resolution for the private sector to draw up two contracts: (1) cleanup years of hazardous waste (animal feces) within the building, (2) remove the non-historical components of the site (garage, and addition on the house where the fire took place) and shore up the remaining structure so that it’s safe until a decision is made as to what should take place within the building (office, historical museum, etc). To be clear, Supervisor Saladino and members of the Town Board have expressed an interest in restoring the Mill Pond House and transforming this vacant and dilapidated structure into a useful facility.”

Sources who wish to remain anonymous recall that the real reason behind the Town’s purchase was that the Venditto administration wanted the triangular property at the intersection of South Street and Berry Hill Road, also owned by Wang. Back then a small convenience store existed on the spot, but the Town wanted to place the Teddy Roosevelt statue there. Wang was asked to donate or lease the property. Wang refused and instead asked for a package deal that included the Mill Pond House for a “ridiculously high price.” Soon after the purchase, Mr. Venditto’s legal woes began which resulted in his resignation. After the deal was made, ideas were floated ranging from tearing the house down and making the land green-space, to building a replica of the original. But various historic preservation groups advocated for rehabilitating it, and even speculated that a private buyer might be willing to restore it.

John M. Collins, owner of the firm Historic Buildings Design in Oyster Bay, is a member of the Town Landmark Commission, advised that an appraisal needs to be done at this point in order to help the current Town Board decide whether it should be sold or renovated. It’s now up to the Town Board to decide the house’s fate.

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