Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Demolition of a Historic House in the Village of Babylon

David smith is turning in his grave. The house he lived in back in the late 1700’s has been demolished. I stopped by to witness the event. A huge excavator and its operator raised the scoop and jaws to take bites out of a wall. I was listening to demolition. The shovel pushed down the portico and two pillars rolled to the ground. The shovel bashed through walls, clawed at the roof, while three hands held hoses to wet down dust. I listened to wood being crushed with crackling sounds and loud metallic bangs and squeals of the bucket and its jaw. The crowd heard the beeps as the machine backed up, the clank of the two huge iron treadmill wheels. Two huge dumpsters stood by waiting for the splinters of almost 250 year old house.

The house heard cows, chickens, and other livestock on the 200 acre farm of David Smith. The house that was history is no more. In its footprint, another 21’st century house awaits. While I took pictures, the foreman of the demo company commented to me.”I get all kinds of comments when we demo a house like this. You can’t save a house that is uninhabitable.”  He gave me a cold bottle of water and he continued to supervise.

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4 Comments

  1. Michael Nolan

    It kills me to read this. As some of your readers know, my family owned and lived in this house from January, 1951 to mid-1961. (It was the home of my maternal grandparents, John & Mildred Ross. My great-grandfather, Joseph Ross, a lifelong carpenter, added that portico and those pillars to the house. My mother and my uncle Charlie were adolescents and young adults there. When I was born in May, 1957, this was the house I was brought home to from the maternity ward of Southside Hospital in Bayshore. My earliest memories are of the years I lived there, where I crawled, learned to walk, and played with the family collie Treve on the three-quarters of an acre of then neatly-kept lawn. And it was I who first discovered, in the fine print of an Internet announcement, that not only was the house sold in June, 2012, but that it was the buyers’ plan from the start to demolish our then two hundred twenty-two year old home in order to subdivide the property and build three new “McMansions” (as we call them here in Southern California) there. And I who wrote the first essay that alerted the community at large to what was happening. . . . For five years now a dedicated group of individuals, some local residents and some of us who have strayed to the far edges of the country, have done everything possible to prevent what has now happened, what was the buyers’ plan from the start. (Sure, the demolition foreman can tout the party line that you can’t save a house that’s uninhabitable. But rest assured that house WAS in good shape when last sold in June, 2012; its “uninhabitable” condition is the intended result of the latest owners’ five years of willful destruction . . . all, as I said, to ultimately bring about what you’ve described in this article. You’ve written that David Smith, a soldier under Washington for nearly seven years of the War of Independence and the builder & first resident of this house, is rolling over in his grave today. So are my grandparents, I assure you, and so are every family and every resident who called this house their home since 1790. A large part of the history of Babylon Village has just died.

    • Tom Stock

      Tom Stock

      dear Michael,
      the demolition of the David Smith house is a symptom of the philosophy of the Village of Babylon government. MONEY is more important than history. The taxes from this property is all they are interested in. They’d rather put their money into grass, flowers, street maintenance, fees fees fees.
      tom stock
      I invited them to see my power point program on Sampawams Creek. No response.

      did you play at Sampawams Creek? I’d be interested in this

  2. Catherine Boettjer Mercier

    Continuing with my family research I discovered the sad news about the David Smith House. I remember reading something about the Village being in discussion with the owners and it is awful that this historic home was not preserved. I spent many days in this home through out middle school as I was friends with Eileen Dunne whose large family and their dog Katie bought this home probably in the mid 1960s. Katie loved running the white fence and one summer the kids had the job of painting this fence. The Dunnes home was always a meeting place because of it’s location between St. Joseph’s school, where we attended, and the neighborhoods of other friends. As I grew up in a mid-century ranch, it was delightful then to hang out with friends in a wood paneled kitchen with wide floor boards, very low ceilings and a fireplace. Even then, I knew I was taken back to another era. My guess is that this kitchen was part of the original structure. It was a typical center hall colonial with five bedrooms upstairs. It seemed there were many nooks and crannies that are found in old houses. Back then, the house was in great shape and well maintained. So sad succeeding owners did not maintain it and the Village could not preserve it. Catherine Boettjer Mercier, Massachusetts

  3. Catherine Boettjer Mericer

    Oh dear. I did not mean to diminish the efforts of Michael Nolan and others in their efforts to save the David Smith house. I see now that it was only the last five years prior to the demolition that the home was in bad repair. The house was lucky to have your family as its owners for so long and it was nice read your memories. Thank-you. Cathy Boettjer Mercier

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