This Week in North Fork History: Foreclosure hits Brecknock Hall

SUFFOLK TIMES FILE PHOTO | The view from above Brecknock Hall in Greenport circa 1992.

The following stories were excerpted from Suffolk Times issues published 15, 20 and 30 years ago this week:

20 years ago …

Foreclosure hits Brecknock Hall

Historic Brecknock Hall is for sale. Again. That was the lead of our page 3 story on Jan. 30, 1992.

The on-again, off-again decade-old plan to develop the property appears to be off again with the announcement this week of a court-ordered foreclosure sale, we wrote then.

After six years as owner of one of the North Fork’s most historically significant properties, Greenport Development Company was $7.5 million in debt on its mortgage, we reported. The developers were looking to sell the land for around $20 million but had no buyers, we wrote.

According to a 1992 new York Times legal notice, the property being auctioned included “144 acres, 2,700 feet of private sound beach, 2,500 feet of frontage on Route 25, a mansion house that dates back to 1880 a caretaker’s cottage, and full approvals for 350 condominiums with public water and sewer service from the Village of Greenport.”

Postscript: Ten years and $64 million later, the Peconic Landing life-care community opened at the site. The Brecknock mansion, which was originally owned by the Floyd family — as in William Floyd — and became a National Historic Structure in 2005, is now rented out for weddings and other special events.

Redistricting plan would merge forks

The North and South Forks would be merged into one State Assembly district instead of two under the new redistricting plan proposed by the Legislative Task Force on Demographic research and Reapportionment, we reported in the Jan. 30, 1992 issue of The Suffolk Times.

Assemblyman Joe Sawicki said that week he was against the plan.

“There’s no reason to combine the two of us other than politics,” he said. “The East End deserves nothing less than two representatives.”

Postscript: A similar proposal was announced last week. In 1992, Assembly districts were supposed to have about 120,000 residents. Today that number is over 129,000.

 15 years ago …

Photographer faces charges for trespassing to take pictures of Brad Pitt in Greenport

Movie-goers will get the chance to judge cinematic heartthrob Brad Pitt’s work in in front of the camera when “The Devil’s Own,” a film partially shot in Greenport, opens in March. But before the house lights dim for the premiere, the town’s Justice Court may pass judgement on a photographer who lined up the popular Mr. Pitt in his viewfinder for an unauthorized close-up.

That was the lead for the page 4 story in the Jan. 30, 1997 issue of The Suffolk Times.

Roslyn Heights photographer David Duberstein was facing a misdemeanor charge of trespassing for crashing a cast party at Claudio’s and taking a photo of Mr. Pitt.

30 years ago …

A day on Robins Island circa 1985

The headline “A day on Robins Island circa 1985” is fitting for a local history column. But when we wrote that headline for the Jan. 28, 1982 issue of The Suffolk Times, the story was actually about the future of the undeveloped island.

“Imagine the year is, say, 1985,” was the lead of our story, which predicted, as was once the plan, that the island would be purchased by the county and turned into parkland.

“When the day comes you drive to new Suffolk and park your car in a lot owned by the Preserve,” we wrote in the hypothetical piece. “Soon a small launch comes to take you and your small group to the island.

“In summertime, there may be three preserve employees on the island — a naturalist to oversee daily maintenance and two student interns who will help with guided nature walks. After a tour of the scenic open areas, a launch takes you back to the mainland.”

Postscript: Well, that never became a reality. The county attempted to buy the land in 1989, but lawsuits held the deal up. It is currently privately owned by Wall Street financier Louis Bacon, who purchased the island for $11 million at a bankruptcy court auction in 1993.

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