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Homan House

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The Homan House, circa 1920s.
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By Deon J. Hampton
deon.hampton@newsday.com  @deonjhampton
Updated October 20, 2019 6:47 AM

A historic house and mill that Suffolk County officials say helped define the hamlet of Yaphank has been restored to its original state.

Revitalizing the Homan-Gerard House on Yaphank Avenue took seven years and overcoming financial hurdles, advocates say.

The Yaphank Historical Society partnered with the Suffolk County Parks Department to bring the home built in the mid-1700s back to life.

The county, which owns the building, spent roughly $450,000 since 2012 on the structure, fixing up the foundation and making changes to the interior and exterior, Yaphank Historical Society president Robert Kessler said.

The society, established in 1974 to preserve and protect historic houses and to also create a historic district on Main Street, was awarded a $300,000 matching grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

A separate $10,000 Gerry Foundation Inc. grant was given to the society to replace the windows.

Getting the project finished was a team effort that didn't come without hassles.

"We had difficulty raising the funds because of the economic collapse in 2007. It took us a while to get the county to provide the funds but they did," said Richard Martin, director of historic services for the county Parks Department.

Kessler said he and other members of the society and other volunteers did some stone work and replaced the chimney.

The public will be able to view the home starting Oct. 26.

Much of the four-story structure remains intact, including the original hardwood floors. Many of the doors are painted blue, and the walls pink.

The history of the house and mill operation finds its origins in the 1760s when John Homan, regarded as a wealthy man, was granted permission to dam the Carmans River to construct a sawmill below his house, Kessler said.

Both structures were first recorded in Brookhaven Town records in 1762, when the saw mill was built adjacent to the house on the Carmans River, historical officials said.

When mills became obsolete, the house was used as a boardinghouse for summer Yaphank visitors, who enjoyed swimming, fishing and boating on the millponds, and later as a sporting lodge, until it was closed in 1940.

The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, officials said.

It became of significant importance to the county several years ago when it rose to the top of the list of endangered buildings that Suffolk wanted to preserve and restore.

Martin said the home represents a transitional period in the architectural style of homes built from Federal to the Greek Revival period.

"It's also very significant to the development of Yaphank. The mill structures stood to the south of the house and the miller operation was run from the house," said Martin, who also oversees the county's restoration of historic buildings. "This is what really created (Yaphank) which was originally called 'Millville.' "

Viewing the historic home

The Yaphank Historical Society will have an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. on Oct. 26 to view the Homan-Gerard House. The event is open to the public.

work
The restoration continued. The floors are all original.
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paint
Ready for paint.
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Log on it's way to mill. circa 1900.
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