Written by D.F. Karppi Friday, 06 January 2012 00:00
The Oyster Bay Main Street Association has been gently tweaking buildings in historic Oyster Bay by bringing in “outside dollars” to the hamlet over the past few years for restoration and preservation. They recently received a grant for $500,000 to add to $200,000 last year; and a $70,000 Preserve America federal matching grant; and a $10,000 grant for the Octagon Hotel. “So over the last three years, that comes to $950,000,” said Isaac Kremer, OB MSA executive director.
It would seem the Oyster Bay Main Street Association is building on their success with each grant they receive, but executive director Isaac Kremer said his best selling feature is Oyster Bay- the hometown of Theodore Roosevelt. “When I go around the country on conferences the best thing I can tell them is I’m restoring Theodore Roosevelt’s hometown and people understand and most of the time they go out of their way to support it. They appreciate the Roosevelts and that Oyster Bay is the place that should be kept at its best because it is a strong memorial to him,” Mr. Kremer said.
The new $500,000 grant is for the target area block that can be described as the area circumscribed by Audrey Avenue; Spring Street; West Main Street; and South Street. It also covers the north side of West Main Street and the east side of South Street [where the Chinese restaurant and Ewe’s are located].
One could call it the “golden square” where Raynham Hall Museum; the Matinecock Lodge; Snouder’s Corner Drugstore; the Townsend Hotel annex; and many other historic buildings are located.
Mr. Kremer said, “When the grant arrives it is a reimbursement of funding for the business owner who completes the work and shows proof of payment. We request the reimbursement and it usually arrives two to four weeks later. The money doesn’t go to our coffers, it’s passed through revenue that we grant to the business and building owners that qualify for them.”
The New York Main Street Grant Program is administered by the department of housing and community renewal, he said.
Annual Meeting January 26
The MSA is holding their annual meeting on January 26, starting at 7 p.m. at the Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay. Mr. Kremer said, “At the annual meeting we will make a formal announcement on the grant. A formal announcement and request for proposals will be shortly forthcoming. Project selection should be complete by early spring.
“The time frame for the applications is the end of February or the beginning of March.
“At the annual meeting we will lay out our past work and lay out a future vision for four projects: one is for Firemen’s Field; the next is the ongoing site improvements project which the Main Street grant will help us with; Townsend Park and bandstand upgrades to make it more parklike and user friendly, including street furniture; and the interpretive and way finding signs of the Preserve America project,” he said.
Mr. Kremer said, “We will be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the MSA charter.”
It should be an interesting discussion since Oyster Bay has been in the news recently with all the many restoration projects being undertaken in this over 358-year-old community.
With a surge in building that took place in this over 358-year-old hamlet of Oyster Bay during the Victorian era, many of the historic buildings remaining from that period are in need of renovation and restoration. That can be seen in such buildings as the Trousdell house; Snouder’s Corner Drugstore; the Oyster Bay Rail Road museum building; the Mill Pond House and Raynham Hall Museum. Add to that list, Sagamore Hill mansion and the Old Orchard Museum that are already in line for restoration and renovations with projects being undertaken by the National Park Service. Preservation is the main focal point for the national Main Street Association’s view of revitalization for the downtown areas of the nation.
Tweaking Oyster Bay
A great example of the “tweaking of Oyster Bay” and the work of the Main Street Association on documenting the buildings of Oyster Bay, shows what was accomplished at the Townsend Inn Annex at 9 Audrey Avenue, built around 1907. It is discussed on the MSA website on the Future of Oyster Bay. It tells an interesting story of the building and the two photographs demonstrate the recent changes to the building.
It states: “Charles DeKay Townsend was responsible for building the Townsend Inn on the site of the Jacob Townsend House on West Main Street in 1903. The Sanborn Map from 1902 showed a two-story building with an ample extension to the west on this site. The next Sanborn Map from 1909 showed a two-and-a-half story building with a slightly shortened one-story porch to the west.
“As late as the February 1909 Sanborn Map, no other buildings were located on this block west of the Townsend Inn Annex or the Samuel Townsend House. A troubling sign appeared on this 1909 Sanborn Map – the Townsend Inn Annex much like the Townsend Inn itself had the notation “Vac.” for “vacant” at this time.
“The 1914 Belcher Hyde Map refers to the building as “Hotel Annex” to the “Oyster Bay Inn” behind it on the south side of the block facing West Main Street. Subsequent development on the block required the porch to be removed and the space it occupied as well as open land to the west to be filled with buildings. A tailor occupied the building around 1915, and by 1922 a hardware store was located here.
“The Raymon Liquor Store occupied this building for many years. Benjamin Raymon was active in many local civic and fraternal organizations including the Oyster Bay Jewish Center, Matinecock Lodge, and the Rotary Club of Oyster Bay. In the 2000s this building was occupied by Mill Neck Services, an organization providing services to the deaf and people with developmental disabilities. A new owner of the building rehabilitated residential units on the upper floors, the commercial unit below, and the exterior. This work was supported by a New York Main Street Grant awarded by the Oyster Bay Main Street Association completed in September 2010. Mill Pond Consignment opened shortly thereafter in the ground floor of this building,” concluded the MSA report.