Peconic Land Trust showcases restored 1747 home in Southold

The Lt. Moses Case house was built in 1747, probably at a site on Indian Neck Lane in Peconic. Around 1960 it was moved to Boisseau Avenue in Southold, where it often served as a gift shop, and in 2016 to Hortons Lane, just south of Route 48.

The 275-year-old house never looked better. Now owned by Peconic Land Trust, the house has been meticulously restored and sits at the front of a 5-acre farm the Trust is hoping to lease as part of its farmer incubator program — an effort to launch new farmers working the North Fork’s prime soil.

Open to the public on Nov. 25, scores of people toured the house, which for generations was owned by the Case family. They listened as Holly Sanford, the Trust’s senior project manager, talked about its history, and Daniel Heston, the Trust’s director of agricultural programs, talked about the hope for the house and the land.

Daniel Heston, the Peconic Land Trust’s director of agricultural programs, explains the remodeling and future uses of the historic Lt. Moses Case house in Southold. The house and five acres of farmland are owned by the Trust. (Credit: Steve Wick)

The Trust had been deeded the farmland behind the house two decades ago. For a while, the Trust toyed with the idea of putting a modular home on the site to attract a farm family to live there and work the land. 

When the Trust learned that the Case house had an uncertain future, it acquired it and moved it to the site. Sid Beebe and Sons Contractors of Cutchogue restored the house to its Colonial-era appearance, and at the open house those who attended learned it was available for lease, along with the farmland.

Under the Trust’s program, prospective farmers have to apply to be live in the house and farm the property’s five acres. As Mr. Heston explained, the Trust will be looking for someone — or a couple — that has a solid idea of what to raise on the land.

The historic home was moved in 2019. (File photo)

It is likely, he said, that someone who has been through the Trust’s incubator program will be selected. The winner will receive a five-year renewable lease to live on and work the land.

“We have a selection team that will make the pick,” Mr. Heston said. “There is a list of criteria, and we will have restrictions on the use of the land. We won’t do cannabis, and we’d like to restrict it to food production. The person or persons have to live in the house as well.”

No requests for proposals have gone out yet, and Mr. Heston said no prices have been set for the lease. The Trust will continue to own the house and land.

“We have a team of outside people to help us with crop selection,” he said. “The lease for the house will be fair market rental and will be marketed as farm labor housing and affordable.”

The house’s history can be seen in every room, and in its classic, Colonial-era fireplaces. A chart of the Case family genealogy is on display on a wall over one of the fireplaces. It shows a Henry Case, who died in 1665, all the way to Lt. Moses Case, who fought in the American Revolution and died in 1814.

A host of other historic Southold family names appear throughout the family tree — Corwin, Vail, Horton, Wells and Youngs, among others. The house serves as a modern-day reminder of Southold’s past and the families that lived here.