After over 19 years of operating in borrowed or rented spaces, The North Shore Land Alliance, Inc. (Land Alliance) is excited to announce our relocation to the historic Tavern House at the Humes Preserve in Mill Neck, NY. With strong community support, the Land Alliance has grown considerably and accomplished a great deal. It seems appropriate that at this juncture we establish a permanent, engaging and highly functioning center of operation on a property we protected.
The Land Alliance stretched its resources to acquire the 28-acre Humes Preserve in 2015 for $5.3M. We subsequently purchased the seven-acre Smithers Connector parcel for $296K in 2016 and the adjoining seven-acre John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden for $686K in 2017. These 42 acres are in the heart of the most biodiverse area of Nassau County. They adjoin the Charles T. Church Shu Swamp Preserve and connect with the Upper Francis Pond Preserve (acquired by Nassau County in 2009 with help from the Land Alliance). These acquisitions have created a 150-acre open space corridor with nearly five miles of public trails. Visitation to the Humes Preserve has been active and grows.
In June, the Land Alliance will begin restoration of the Tavern House, which is one of the oldest structures remaining in Mill Neck. We have hopes of occupancy by year-end. While there is little written about the Tavern House or adjacent Cook’s Cottage fronting Oyster Bay Road, they are said to date back to the first half of the 18th century. They originally served as their names indicate. The Tavern House was an important stopover on the road to Oyster Bay and accommodated a long list of passersby, famous and infamous. The Cook’s Cottage reportedly served as a general store for a time during the 1800’s.
In keeping with the property’s history, the Tavern House façade will remain almost identical to its current one, and the building size will stay within the existing footprint. The interior will be updated and modernized to provide a light and cheerful working place. The cost of the renovation is approximately $1.2M. Eduardo Lacroze is the architect for the project. RAF Development Corporation has been chosen to manage the construction. Innocenti and Webel, under the guidance of David Cohn and Jim Wellington, will continue their firm’s decades of design work at Humes as the landscape architects.
The Tavern House’s location on busy Oyster Bay Road provides excellent visibility for us. This location also enables handicapped access to the John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden and the adjoining educational pavilion (former pool house), where small lectures and workshops will be held.
While final fundraising efforts continue, we are most grateful for the leadership gift made by the William C. and Joyce C. O’Neil Charitable Trust (Trustees Hollis Russell and John Crabill) and the supporting gifts from the Gerry Charitable Trust and the Estate of Rosalind P. Walter. We are also grateful to the Village of Mill Neck for revising our special use permit and to Tom Hogan, Esq., for serving as pro bono counsel for the Land Alliance.