A popular landmark in the Three Village area is about to get a facelift.
Local architect John Cunniffe updated attendees at the Three Village Civic Association April 3 meeting on the renovations that are set to begin at the end of May or early June on the historic Gamecock Cottage at Shipman’s Point at the tip of the West Meadow Beach peninsula.
Cunniffe estimated the work on the cottage would take two to three months. Once the cottage restoration is completed, the Three Village Community Trust will take over as steward. TVCT officially entered a stewardship agreement with the Town of Brookhaven in 2010.
Work on the cottage will be supervised by the town. Cunniffe said a maintenance program would be developed for Brookhaven and the trust. The architect said the allotted budget for the work is $175,000.
“From 1990 to today, there was very little maintenance and upkeep on the building, and we’re at a 30-year lifespan on material, paint, with dilapidation. I think we’ve all seen what has happened to the Gamecock Cottage, and it seems to be getting progressively worse, exponentially by the month.”
William J. Solan Contracting, of Stony Brook, with Walter Dwan will be responsible for all decorative work. Solan and Dwan worked on the 1990 renovation, according to Cunniffe. Statewide Roofing, of Ronkonkoma, will be in charge of roofing, while the town’s Parks & Recreation Department will work on siding, painting and additional work.
Cunniffe added material will be pre-primed or pre-painted, so there will be no staging or scaffolding at the site. Custom-milled material will provide the full length needed so the roof and seams allow no water penetration.
Currently, the budget covers exterior renovations. While many have voiced concerns about beach erosion in the area and possibly elevating the cottage, Cunniffe said after talking to town historian, Barbara Russell, he feels it may be best to keep it at its current level for now.
Robert Reuter, a local architect, added that the building for decades flooded and dried. “It was designed essentially to do that,” he said, adding the salt water may have helped preserve it.
Cunniffe said the current staircase on the building doesn’t belong there architecturally, but it was added for utilitarian needs. As for an ADA-compliant ramp, that would be something for a future conversation, the architect said.
Herb Mones, community trust president, added once the trust takes over as steward, part of an agreement with the town is to aim to have a seasonal caretaker living in the second-floor apartment.
Cunniffe said Ward Melville bought the Gamecock Cottage in the 1940s and sold it to the town. The Ward Melville Heritage Organization took stewardship over the lease in the mid-1980s and in 1990 the cottage was renovated. Cunniffe said the roof was replaced, the cupola, gingerbread trim and windows were rebuilt, and 45% of siding was removed and replaced.
For decades, Gamecock Cottage was a boat storage facility, honeymoon getaway and rental unit, according to the TVCT website. WMHO relinquished the lease after 2004, and soon afterward the trust offered to assume stewardship. While the nonprofit was in discussion with the town, Brookhaven applied for and received the State and National Registers of Historic Places designation for the 1870s Gamecock. Cunniffe said Russell was instrumental in securing the designation for the town.