Catbirds, mockingbirds, chickadees and cardinals were singing bird arias at the Avery property in East Patchogue last week. Blue spruce, red maple, dogwood, cherry, holly, pine and spruce trees mingled with azalea bushes and tangles of honeysuckle, as tiny periwinkles peeked out off some of the grassy trails. While the 11-acre parcel, set back off South Country Road, with its two 18th-century buildings and 20th-century barn, has been uninhabited for some time, it’s in relatively decent shape.
“It is in pretty good shape,” agreed Legis. Dominick Thorne, (R, District 7) who’s been pushing to have the historic property saved from the wrecker’s ball with councilman Neil Foley (R, District 5).
The property has been undergoing negotiations and studies, which have been taking time.
“The owner of the deli nearby will purchase 15 feet of the property, which gives them an offset for their cesspool,” he said.
And while asbestos wrappings were found on the basement pipes of the 1880 Queen Anne building, there was a question as to who would remove it.
Hooray! During the Advance interview, Thorne received a phone call from Mikael Kerr, Farmland and Open Space coordinator: the property owner would move the asbestos pipes.
“Now the prospective closing date is August,” Thorne said.
Suffolk County Division of Real Property, Acquisition and Management made the offer last year to seller and Avery family member Charles Wakefield, who reportedly, was anxious to close. A county/town partnership, starting with former Legis. Rob Calarco and councilman Foley for a 70 percent/30 percent purchase agreement, was made in 2020.
The historic property was known as the Avery family’s Swan River Nursery, and at one time spanned 200 acres.
The big question is, who would inhabit the buildings once the deal is finalized. The 1880 Queen Anne home, occupied by Barbara Avery until 2017, is in decent shape. The Greater Patchogue Historical Society and Patchogue Arts Council have expressed interest in a presence at the site. The 1820 gambrel-roof house built by John Avery is near collapse and will need work. The beautiful 92-year-old Dutch colonial barn is sturdy and a fabulous place for events. Lessing’s has expressed interest in operating there.
Brian Egan, of Egan & Golden, who represents Lessing’s, confirmed that the restaurant group remains strongly interested in the property.
“Lessing’s is the premier operator of catering facilities located in historic structures, often with municipal partners,” Egan said in an email. “From Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, to Coindre Hall in Huntington, to Whidbey Castle in Rye, the Lessing’s have proven they can sensitively adapt and preserve these historic structures with integrity for modern use. We look forward to working with the town and county on the preservation of this property.”
Foley noted it was a special project that the county and town were working on. “I’m happy to be part of it,” he said.
The big boulder in front by South Country Road has the family history with plaques installed.
“I stop and look at the rock, and it inspires me for the project,” Thorne said.