Friday, 18 March 2011 00:00
The North Shore Land Alliance signed a contract with the family of Dr. James Trousdell to purchase the 2-plus acre parcel located at the corner of East Main Street and Sandy Hill Road in Oyster Bay on Monday, March 7. The property holds a historic circa 1845 “summer” house, the lovely stone remains of a barn, and a small garage. The sale attracted a number of developers who planned to tear the house down and replace it with a development of up to five new houses.
“When we heard this historic property was in jeopardy, we knew we would have to act quickly to prevent excessive development on this strategic site. The Land Alliance intends to protect the land and to work with the many interested local groups who want to ensure that this historic treasure survives for another 170 years,” said John Bralower, Land Alliance trustee and chair of its Conservation Committee.
The Land Alliance arranged with an anonymous donor to provide funding to protect the property while allowing the various community groups time to develop a preservation solution which will include conservation of open space.
Jonathan Moore, Land Alliance Trustee and lifelong Oyster Bay resident said, “Having grown up in Oyster Bay, coupled with a family presence in the Hamlet for well over 100 years, I cannot overestimate the importance of preserving the Trousdell homestead. I applaud the insight, generosity and wisdom of Dr. Trousdell and his family for preserving one of Oyster Bay’s most historic corners for generations to come.”
Pat Aitken, executive director, Friends of the Bay, commended the North Shore Land Alliance for the purchasing the Trousdell property. She added, “Our State of the Watershed Report and Watershed Action Plan both speak to the need for preserving open space. Unsustainable or poorly planned development is a threat to our water supply and quality. Stormwater runoff is the dominant source of pathogens in the estuary complex.”
Members of the Oyster Bay community have also been very concerned about the potential loss of this emblematic, gateway property. In particular, the Land Alliance is working closely with the Oyster Bay Preservation Roundtable, which is made up of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA), Oyster Bay Main Street Association, Save the Jewel, Raynham Hall, Oyster Bay Historical Society, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum, Oyster Bay Town Historian, and others.
According to the Oyster Bay Historical Society, the property was named Hillside by Richard Irvin, who bought it in 1861 and whose family owned it for more than 50 years. His granddaughter Frances Irvin, author of Oyster Bay: A Sketch, remembered visiting her grandparents at Hillside in the 1880s. Earlier, in the 1870s, the house was leased for several summers to James A. Roosevelt. This was before he built his home, Yellowbanks, in Cove Neck in 1881.
“Hillside’s direct connection with the Irvin and Roosevelt families alone makes the place a vital and irreplaceable part of the history of Oyster Bay,” said Oyster Bay Historical Society Director Philip Blocklyn.
“This handsome Greek revival building with subsequent Colonial revival alterations was one of the principal houses of Oyster Bay’s mid-19th century summer colony,” added Alexandra Wolfe of SPLIA.
Isaac Kremer, executive director of the Main Street Association added, “The North Shore Land Alliance has once again demonstrated its visionary qualities through the acquisition of Hillside. They have shown how preservation of open spaces and historic character are two sides of the same coin for people who live on the North Shore. Main Street is excited by the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Land Alliance, Town officials, and other community partners to preserve this important historic property. A restored Hillside will increase property values for neighbors, strengthen our historic character, contribute to ongoing economic revitalization efforts, and promote the unique quality of life on the North Shore of Long Island.”
Harriet Clark, executive director, Raynham Hall Museum remarked, “One of the keys to keeping Oyster Bay a wonderful place is the preservation and restoration of its remaining historic properties. We are immensely grateful to the Land Alliance for bringing us together and giving us a chance to save this beautiful house.”
The North Shore Land Alliance is a non-profit land trust with the mission to preserve and protect, in perpetuity, the green spaces, farmlands, wetlands, groundwater and historic sites of Long Island’s North Shore for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations and the protection and enhancement of quality of life.
Land Alliance Chair, Carter Bales, said,“The Alliance looks forward to working with the Oyster Bay community to preserve this local treasure. Protecting this country’s heritage – from fishing villages to hamlet neighborhoods, from barns to courthouses, from urban parks to rural landscapes – will help make America a better place.”
If you are interested in protecting your property please call the Land Alliance at 626-0908.