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Three Village Dads to restore historic Merritt-Hawkins House in Setauket

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The Three Village Dads Foundation is now the official steward of the Brookhaven Town-owned historic Merritt-Hawkins House located on Pond Path in Setauket.

The organization made the big announcement on Facebook last month.

The foundation’s president and founder, David Tracy, said members plan to restore the building and turn it into a home for organizations and visitors interested in local history.

“Really, our long term goal with this house is to return it back to the community and just give it some use,” Tracy said in a telephone interview. “We all drive past it everyday on Pond Path Road.

“It just sits there and nobody’s using it.”

‘in need of some love’

According to the Town of Brookhaven website, the house “is part of one of the earliest farms in Setauket, and county records show that it originally belonged to the Hawkins family with the first house being built there in 1774.” It was designated a Brookhaven Town landmark in April of 2005 and a New York State and national landmark in August of 2007.

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, whom Tracy described as a friend, introduced the foundation to the property in hopes of forming a stewardship agreement.

“The Town of Brookhaven is really good about purchasing historically significant properties, but the second step … is making sure these places are then preserved, taken care of, and made accessible for use by the community,” Kornreich said.

The councilmember said Tracy’s foundation seemed like a good fit for the Merrritt-Hawkins House because the group has many local contractors in its ranks. Tracy said these members could help with project costs and labor.

“We do need to invest a good bit of money to kind of bring it up,” Tracy said. “It’s not in disrepair but it’s definitely in need of some love.”

‘deeper roots within the community’

The two-year-old Three Village Dads Foundation has raised funds for local fire departments, the VFW and meals for first responders and medical providers battling COVID-19 in hospitals.

But this venture, Tracy explained, is an opportunity to bolster the groups prominence in the community, and for its 1,400-plus members to see “tangible outcomes as to where their money goes.”

“It kind of solidifies our presence in the community,” he said. “We go from just being donors of monetary funds to organizations, to actually being an organization that can physically change or physically preserve our community. So it kind of gives us deeper roots within the community.”

Tracy said he hopes to have separate fundraisers or locked-in sponsorships for each room and stage of exterior renovation, which he said would include a path connecting the Nassakeag Elementary School next door to the historic house for field trips and activities, such as candle making.

Kornreich said he hopes the vernal pond of ecological importance at the rear of the site would be made accessible to the community after renovations as well.

While contractors still needs to evaluate the house and form a renovation plan, Tracy said work could begin relatively shortly.

“We do hope to break ground on a few improvements before the winter comes,” he said. “There will be some significant changes by this time next year.”

Top: Merritt-Hawkins House photo from Town of Brookhaven website

from the Town of Brookhaven:

Merritt-Hawkins House

  • Address: Pond Path, just south of Upper Sheep Pasture Road, Setauket
  • Dates: Landmark – Brookhaven April 2005, New York State and National August 2007
  • Information: The historic Selleck Homestead Preserve abuts the Nassakeag Elementary School. It is part of one of the earliest farms in Setauket and County records show that it originally belonged to the Hawkins family with the first house being built there in 1774.
  • Contact: Town of Brookhaven Department of Parks and Recreation Phone: 631-924-1820
  • Open to the Public: By Appointment (first floor only)