Southold Town: Take the old inn down

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The collapsed remains of what once was the General Wayne Inn in Southold.

After years watching the building slowly decay, the town is taking action against the owners of the once-popular General Wayne Inn in the Bayview area of Southold. Monday, the town building department notified the property owner, Ovlasid Realty LLC of Farmingdale, that it has 60 days to comply with the town’s building code or face the building’s demolition, with the town attaching the cost to the property tax bill.

The fenced-in, 3.1-acre property at 1275 Cedar Beach Road is in an extreme state of disrepair.

“The building is a blight,” Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said. “It needs to be razed, restored and cleaned up.”

Chief building inspector Mike Verity said the town has been working to clean up the site for years, but multiple ownership changes have slowed the process.

Ovlasid Realty bought the property for $830,000 in November 2003 but lost the title to Suffolk County for back taxes. After paying $52,732 to the county, the company reacquired the property in March 2008.

The General Wayne Inn has a long and colorful history. The site is on the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities’ list of historically significant properties, but it has never been officially declared a landmark deserving of protection.

The building was constructed around a house that Maj. Gilbert Horton, who was also a blacksmith and farmer, had built for his bride in 1784. Five generations of Hortons, who trace their lineage back to the North Fork’s first English-speaking settlers, lived there.

In the early 20th century, the home was sold to Edwin H. Brown, who converted it into the Cedar Beach Inn. By 1949 the property included seven other buildings and 175 acres, including farmland and waterfront.

Much of the property was later subdivided and sold off, leaving just the Cedar Beach Inn and the three acres. In 1982, Victor Farinha Jr. and Duane Seaman bought and renovated the building and opened the General Wayne Inn. After that business closed in 1998, the property was sold to Lambda Associates for $410,000. The building has remained vacant since then. Local objections killed efforts to convert it into a catering hall.

The property had been split zoned, half business, half two-acre residential, but the Town Board eliminated the business zoning in 2008, when the county acquired the property. Under current zoning, only one house can be built on the property.

Mr. Verity is optimistic that the current owners will respond within 60 days.

“They are working with us and we are working with them to clean it up,” he said.

Although a street address is listed for Ovlasid Realty, a phone number could not be found by presstime.

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