Over the past few years, Bob and Karen Bocksel have become accustomed to drivers slowing down to stare at their property on Main Road in Aquebogue.
After all, not everyone has a full-sized windmill complete with custom-made sails sitting in the yard.
And now passersby might be forgiven for thinking they’ve suddenly been transported to Vermont. The reason? Construction of the Bocksels’ latest whimsical architectural feature – a covered bridge – is well underway.
Situated to the west of the house, the structure is visible from the road because it sits rather high on the property. It fulfills Mr. Bocksel’s long-standing desire for an imposing gateway to the farm that lies behind their house.
The Bocksels’ house is an Aquebogue landmark all by itself. Originally constructed by Ms. Bocksel’s great-great-great grandfather, Luther Moore, it is immediately identifiable by the belvedere that sits on top of the roof. (A belvedere is an architectural feature designed to afford a panoramic view, which in this case includes the Aquebogue School, the Meeting House Deli, Main Road and beyond.)
In 2006 the Bocksels embarked on a renovation of the main house, a project including structural work in the basement, custom six-over-six-paned widows, new cedar shakes and a new roof.
Next came the windmill. The Bocksels had admired working windmills in Holland when they lived in Europe and had always liked the windmill in Watermill. Mr. Bocksel says it was an easy decision to construct an English-style “smock” mill, similar to several that still stand on the South Fork.
After the windmill was completed in 2008 the Bocksels decided to renovate their carriage barn into a summer entertainment space, hence the large deck. The couple also installed a fireplace and cedar tongue-and-groove siding along with a cedar shake roof.
Just as excavation for the windmill turned up colonial-era clay pipes and Spanish coins from the late 18th century, the carriage barn too revealed some history during its renovation.
“It was originally a horse barn,” said Mr. Bocksel. “We found a lot of horseshoes while we were working on the place.”
The Bocksels agree that their property is a definite work-in-progress, even more so now they have embarked on yet another ambitious project.
“The covered bridge idea was my personal concept, although Karen prefers to call it the gate house barn,” said Mr. Bocksel.
Whether you call it a barn or a bridge, it’s an open building “that you could drive a tractor trailer through. There are no doors,” said Mr. Bocksel.
Local builder Rob Gabrielsen, who also had a hand in the construction of the windmill and the carriage barn, is supervising the project. At its core are massive spans of custom white pine timber from New Hampshire. (Appropriately enough, as New Hampshire shares with Vermont the longest two-span covered bridge in the world at 450 feet, according to website www.visit-newhampshire.com.)
The building’s foundation is made of the same Long Island fieldstone used for the windmill. On either side is a shed that will be used for storage.
The first concept for an entrance to the farm was stone columns “but that was very pricey,” said Mr. Bocksel. The couple brainstormed with Mattituck architect Don Feiler, whose initial design gave a more a traditional barn appearance.
“Eventually the design morphed into what we have now,” said Mr. Bocksel.
“While you can see the archway from the road, the real beauty of the building is on the inside when you look up and see these huge timbers and spans,” he added.
Although the bridge does not cross water, Mr. Bocksel says he has not ruled out the possibility of constructing a waterway under the building.
Watch this space.