An iconic New Suffolk home that has stood since 1936 will soon face the wrecking ball, much to the disappointment of community members.
The storied Lyndon Tuthill-Floyd Houston House on Jackson Street, perched on 2.6 acres of prime real estate, is slated to be demolished, the property owner said, although some of the brick and wood will be salvaged.
Michael Warlan, a Manhattan resident who summered in New Suffolk, purchased the property for $1.1 million in August 2013 with the intent of restoring the aging home. The renovation, however, proved too costly, Mr. Warlan said.
“The cost that goes into restoring a building like that is tremendous and unfortunately the way the house was built then isn’t up to code or safe now,” he said.
The Southold Town Building Department signed off on the permit Thursday to demolish the home, according to department records. Mr. Warlan said he has not selected a date for work to begin.
The building is considered a treasured part of the hamlet’s charm because of the home’s previous occupants and its architecture details, said Jim Grathwohl, the Southold Town Historic Preservation Commission chairman.
The residence was constructed entirely with bricks from the now-abandoned brick factory on Robins Island. Reflective of the hamlet’s once booming fishing industry, there is an oyster shell base under the driveway’s blacktop, according to Patch article published in 2012.
Although the building has not received an official designation as an historic landmark, community members are sad to see a property of local significance be leveled.
“It is a shame to hear it will be torn down,” Mr. Grathwohl said. “It is not an ancient home, but it is an important house in the history of New Suffolk.”
Long-time New Suffolk resident & Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council member Linda Auriemma said the demolition is another example of the area losing its history to new development.
She compared the demolition to a similar situation from 2012, when the former New Suffolk Avenue home of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Douglas Moore was torn down after the new owners found restoring the property would be too costly. A more modern home was built in its place.
“I think I speak for everyone I know when I say we were shocked when they just knocked it down,” she said. “And it seems to be the same way with this house.”
Originally built in 1936 for Lyndon Tuthill, it is said that the project was initiated to lift people’s spirits and provide much-needed jobs for the Depression-ravaged tradesmen in the area, according to the Patch article.
The Tuthill family has a deep legacy in Southold Town. Last year, Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society opened an entire library dedicated to the family that features books, diaries, photos and other items that once belonged to members of the Tuthill family.
After Lyndon Tuthill’s death, his sister, Ruth, and her husband Floyd D. Houston, who owned the Goldsmith-Tuthill Shipyard, occupied the home, the article states.
After the 1980s the home was neglected, suffering a significant amount of water damage, Mr. Warlan said. While the home itself cannot be saved, pieces of it can be, said Mattituck developer Paul Pawlowski, who’s in charge of the demolition.
“The problem with a brick house is that once it starts cracking there is no way to really save it,” said Mr. Pawlowski, who is also the man behind a proposal to construct 75-units of affordable housing in Mattituck. “The brick has a pretty cool history, but it isn’t easy to take off. I think realistically 60 to 70 percent of it can be saved.”
Mr. Pawlowoski also said much of the wood in the house would be salvaged. Mr. Warlan said he hopes to recycle as much of the material as possible to go toward the construction of a new home on the property.