Four-story flagpole finds a new home in Cutchogue

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Dan Heston, the proud new owner of this 46-foot-tall flagpole, says he hopes to install the beam in the spring.
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Dan Heston, the proud new owner of this 46-foot-tall flagpole, says he hopes to install the beam in the spring.

Cutchogue resident Dan Heston said he’d always wanted a wooden flagpole to stand over Salt Air Farm, the property he owns on New Suffolk Road in Cutchogue.

So when he picked up a copy of The Suffolk Times two months ago and read about a Southold man trying to find a new home for a historic 46-foot flagpole, he knew he had to get it.

“My gosh, there was a huge flagpole right there, just what I really wanted,” he said.

Mr. Heston picked up the phone immediately but learned he wasn’t the only one to call Mark Baxter, owner of the 70-year-old flagpole.

The man had received more than 25 calls from people looking to buy the pole after the Suffolk Times’ August story profiling its plight.

The pole’s prospective owners were an interesting bunch, Mr. Baxter said in an interview.

“One woman wanted to cut it in half,” he said. “Someone wanted to use it as a mast.”

Mr. Baxter said he didn’t want to give the pole to someone who would misuse it. The four-story-tall tapered pole, which dates back to 1943, had sentimental value, he said.

It had first flown over Peterkin Park in Amityville, where Mr. Baxter’s father had been responsible for raising and lowering flags as a police officer.

Mr. Baxter had saved the pole from destruction and wanted to make sure it found a new owner who would care for it.

He decided to give Mr. Heston a chance and now the soon-to-be freshly painted and repaired flagpole now has a new home. The historic pole was moved to Mr. Heston’s farm last month.

“They’ve got a nice place up there,” Mr. Baxter said.

The flagpole now rests on a series of wooden planks at Salt Air Farm, protected from the sun by tapered sheets of wood nailed together by Mr. Heston.

Mr. Heston said he was “discouraged” to find that parts of the flagpole had rotted away, and he caught carpenter ants crawling through it. But he said complications are to be expected with such an old flagpole.

“I’ll be able to glue patches in here and there,” he said. “We’ll have to treat it to kill those ants from the outside … but it’ll be fine.”

Once repaired and repainted, the flagpole will be set next to the farm’s driveway, across from the field where weddings and events are held.

Newlyweds will have the option to have a custom-made flag bearing their names fly on the pole during their ceremonies, Mr. Heston said.

“It’s going to be quite the grand flagpole right there in the yard,” he said. “Come hell or high water we’re going to get this done.”

But best of all, Mr. Heston said, he got to meet a new neighbor.

“Mark and I hit it off famously, so I got a new friend out of the whole deal,” he said.

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