Orient’s iconic crab shack gets a face-lift

06/29/2012 3:05 PM |

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | The crab shack, which has been reframed and received a new foundation, used to be the gathering place for a group of local men who called themselves ‘The Old Crabs.’

The iconic crab shack that sits alongside Orient’s picturesque causeway received a face-lift this week from Crowley Construction of Greenport, according to co-owner Charlotte Greene, who said the tiny slanting shack was reframed, lifted and given a new foundation to keep it on its feet.

A walkway was also built between Main Road and the shack, referred to as Young’s Landing, which sits on pilings in the wetlands north of Orient Harbor at the eastern end of the causeway.

“We used locust trees from the little forest on our property for the dock railings; I want to make it look a little more rustic,” Ms. Greene said, adding that all improvements to the property are DEC-regulated and approved by the Army Corps of Engineers and Southold Town Trustees.

An application for the construction had already been filed when Tropical Storm Irene nearly toppled the shack, which Ms. Greene said made the timeliness of the project more of a concern to her than ever.

She added that the shack’s floor is “broken up” and it “needs a new roof,” and that those improvements, perhaps also including a new coat of paint, could be done by the end of this summer.

Orient builder Robert Christensen is in line to undertake those revitalization projects, according to Ms. Greene.

She said the shack was originally a wash house for Orient’s Mount Pleasant House hotel, which once stood across the street from the structure’s current location.

Her grandmother’s uncle, Ezra Young, bought the shack in 1944, Ms. Greene said, enlisting the help of some local residents to move the house on rollers to pilings he’d erected in the wetlands across the road.

“He and his friends, many of them well-known, were dubbed the ‘Old Crabs’ and often had parties and gatherings there,” she said.

Ms. Greene said some of those friends included superior court judges.

After Mr. Young’s death, Ms. Greene said her mother and aunt, Beverly Greene and Wendy Lomas, used the structure as a hangout during the 1960s.

The structure stands mostly unused these days, but Ms. Greene said she intends to keep it standing.

“We would never allow it to fall down,” she said, “We want to keep it as a local landmark.”

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