A center of great debate in recent years, La Grange Inn can inspire thousands of locals to nostalgia of a by-gone era or a few savvy developers to salivate over the potential that prime real estate has to offer.
For about five years the venerable catering hall has sat empty, except for a brief time when in 2010 a trio of business partners reopened La Grange seeking to make a go of it as a catering facility. Hopes for preservationists and local history buffs in the community were dashed when the business shut its doors again six-months later.
The controversy had attracted a lot of attention. Petitions and Facebook pages dedicated to saving the historic structure have been formed to fight against the constant threat of being bull dozed under a number of proposed projects, the latest being a CVS.
This time, the plan is to move the structure to another part of the property.
“CVS is willing to spend $500,000 to move La Grange,” said Joseph DeCarlo, president of the West Islip Association at a meeting last month. “But they can also knock it down if they choose.”
The controversy has inspired a slew of new and old photographs including photos from weddings, postcards, historical pictures and other ephemera to crop up on the Internet celebrating the centuries-old La Grange Inn.
Its history dates back to colonial times when, according to the West Islip Historical Society (WIHS), the Inn was built by Nehemiah Higbie and opened by his son, Samuel A. Higbie, some time near 1750. Although there is no exact opening date on record it is believed to be the oldest place of its kind on Long Island, or at least in Suffolk County.
Read a history of La Grange Inn on West Islip Patch here.
In the “Places that Are No More” blog, Todd Berkun lamented the loss of so many structures on Long Island already, due either to development or the devastation of Sandy.
“With so much recently lost, is this the right time to purposely take more?” Berkun wrote. “La Grange, with its marvelous past could be just waiting for someone with a vivid imagination and a few dollars to turn it into something truly beautiful for a lasting future.”
Click through the gallery to see more photos of La Grange Inn, including the historic photos and some taken by Patch contributors.
Do you have pictures of La Grange Inn you’d like to share? Sign in to West Islip Patch and upload them to this post.