The restoration begins
ISLIP TOWN—The Town of Islip’s plans to restore one of its historic landmarks took another step forward Tuesday morning. In a special press conference outside of Brookwood Hall, Islip Town officials gathered with community supporters as restoration work began to help return the rundown mansion to its former glory. The occasion marked the culmination of a year’s worth of successful fundraising efforts by the Brookwood Hall Restoration Committee.
With a completed landscape plan, the town is utilizing the volunteer services of landscapers and contractors offering to perform the work necessary to make the shared vision a reality. Construction is now underway on a new landscape design that will recreate the estate’s beautiful tree allée along with a new lakeside patio. Available funds will also be utilized to have the site inducted into the National Register of Historic Places.
“We’re kicking off another campaign to help bring back what was an incredibly beautiful structure,” said Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “Step by step, we’re moving in the right direction.”
The restoration committee consists of members of various historical societies, chambers of commerce, and civic groups. Councilman Steve Flotteron, who helped spearhead the initiative along with the Islip Arts Council, thanked all of the individuals, groups and business organizations contributing to the effort.
“Today is the big day,” said Flotteron. “I’m proud to report that the town is receiving $400,000 worth of labor at no cost to taxpayers…We’re trying to bring this property to another level like the grand old days.”
On display were images of the architectural site plan and a depiction of what the tree allée looked like in its prime a century ago. Former residents of the 1903 brick Georgian revival mansion include the wealthy Knapp family as well as New York City stockbroker Francis B. Thorne. Its grounds were originally designed by renowned landscape architect Charles Wellford Leavitt, who also developed the Gold Coast mansions along the North Shore. The mansion was also once home to 75 orphans from the late 1940s to mid-’60s as part of the Brooklyn Orphan Asylum.
“This is not just some old building,” continued Flotteron. “It’s a living place. This is the heart of the Town of Islip… and it’s a place that brings people together. Once this beautiful landscaping is done, we have more things planned [including] concerts and festivals.”
Anthony Quintal, owner of the Islip-based Quintal Landscape & Contract (one of the contracting companies donating its efforts), also came forward to make some remarks as his workers cleared trees in the background.
“With [public-private partnerships] like this, we can do these great projects,” said Quintal. “This is the result of great teamwork, and we’re going to have a beautiful project here. In the future, the aesthetics of the ground will be recreated back to what it used to be.
“It’s my great pleasure to be able to do this for the town and the community,” added Quintal. “Our family is all about community [and] we give back. The community is there to support us and we have to be able to support them.”
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