Last week, the Town of Oyster Bay Landmarks Preservation Commission gave the green light for moving forward with proposed reconstruction and restoration plans for Snouders Corner Store, a historic building that has sat empty for a number of years. The large building at 108 South St., at the corner of West Main Street in Oyster Bay, has been vacant since 2010. Built in the 1700s, with the drug store established in 1884, any changes must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission prior to construction.
“We’re trying to let the building tell us what it was,” said architect John Collins. “All three sides visible to the public will be restored.”
In the 1980s, he said, a compromise was made and the side facing Matinecock Lodge “was kind of sacrificed” and vinyl siding replaced windows. He said the intent is to put the original facade back, using as much original material as possible.
After hearing the presentation by Collins, the commission chairman Michael DiLeo thanked property owner Tim Lee for stepping in with the project.
“It’s good news for us. The presentation and the plan looks to be very thorough, very detailed and looks to restore the building using as much as what you have there [already],” said DiLeo. “It seems there’s a good deal of original or salvagable material.”
He asked Collins if there were any areas that seemed “problematic” and might not be able to be restored in this way.
“I would say, when it’s done, more than 80 percent of the original exterior siding and trim will survive,” said Collins. “There is a fair amount of rot on the corner where the north slope meets the adjacent building—that needs to be rebuilt. A lot of the fail you see beyond just peeling paint is the nails have rusted out. Where you see the shingles slipping out, it’s only because the nails failed. There’s a few losses here and there, but a very small percentage.”
He said there are supplies available that will allow the restoration to remain consistent with the historic look. The building itself has a lengthy history.
“What’s fascinating about the building is that inside the building is a heavy timber frame, shoulder gunstock hand hewn mid-18th century house,” said Collins. “Then it got the wing to the west—a Greek revival addition. That’s why the floor level and window heights changed. Then in the 1880s, it was built out to the sidewalk. In the 1920s, the modern metal shopfront was added. It’s had a series of additions, but that’s what makes historic buildings interesting. It’s not all one period.”
Meredith Maus, executive director of the Oyster Bay Main Street Association, said, “We were very relieved to see these new designs come out and we’re excited to see the amount of restoration that will be going into the building. We fully support these designs and all of the effort being put into preserving one of the major landmarks of our downtown.”
Lee, who owns the building along with his partners Lenora Mahoney and Claudia Taglich, said, “My goal, as a preservationist, is to preserve and restore as much of the building as possible to its original design. Please trust that I will do the right thing for the building and the town.”
DiLeo said, before the vote was taken, that the board was happy with the plans, especially since the building had faced demolition under the previous owner, “which was not something we would let happen.”
“The plans look great, they have the attention and detail we’re looking for,” said DiLeo. “The materials look like they will match what’s there, and what’s there seems to be the greater part of what you’ll use. It’s certainly music to our ears.”
The board voted unanimously to approve the project.
“My sister Claudia and I are excited about this project,” said Mahoney. “We’re looking forward to restoring a beautiful old building to its importance and significance and creating something lovely and beautiful. We’ll work hard to preserve what has been there and work on something new and lively that the town will appreciate and people will come to see and be a part of. We are excited and invigorated by this project.”