Historical society asks town to take back 18th century barn

The 18th century L'Hommedieu Barn is no longer wanted by the Southold Historical Society. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)
The Southold Historical Society no longer wants to keep the L’Hommedieu Barn which now sits on the corner of Main Road and Maple Lane. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

The Southold Historical Society is looking to get rid of a century’s old barn nearly 15 years after investing more than $50,000 in the structure’s restoration.

The historical society acquired the 18th century L’Hommedieu Barn in 2003 from Southold Town. The Town Board at the time decided it could not continue to maintain the historic building, which once belonged to Ezra L’Hommedieu, a Southold lawyer who became a delegate to the Continental Congress and held several other public service positions, said historical society director Geoffrey Fleming.

When the historical society took stewardship of the barn, it was moved from Horton’s Lane near Town Hall to an empty one-acre lot abutting the south side of the Maple Lane Museum Complex, located on the corner of Main Road and Maple Lane.

For more than a decade the L’Hommedieu Barn has remained on the property housing old farming equipment, surrounded by 12 other historical buildings owned by the historical society.

Now the historical society is considering putting the one-acre lot on the market and selling the L’Hommedieu Barn if the town doesn’t want it back, Mr. Fleming said.

Herb Adler, president of the historical society’s board of directors, said the cost associated with maintaining the buildings have become increasingly difficult to bear, adding the society is “keeping its options open” when it comes to retaining a healthy fund balance.

“We have too many buildings,” Mr. Adler said. “It is getting harder and harder to take care of them. This barn is really not a critical item.”

At a Town Board work session earlier this month, Supervisor Scott Russell said he has reservations about the Town reclaiming ownership of the barn.

“One concern I have if the town takes it back is we’ll have another building to maintain,” he said. “Our expertise is not in the maintenance of historical structures.”

Town Councilwoman Louisa Evans agreed that upkeep and the cost of relocating the building back to town-owned land would not be financially savvy, adding that the barn would probably interest a third-party buyer.

“It is in decent shape so someone might want to move it,” she said.

Before deciding on whether to take back the L’Hommedieu Barn, the board requested the historical society provide members with more information about its history and current condition.

As of April 29, the Town had not yet received that information, according to the supervisor’s office.

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