La Grange Inn: West Islip Institution Pre-Dates America’s Independence [Photos]

Take a look at the many ways La Grange Inn has been immortalized and add your own images.

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.

Rich March 13, 2013 at 12:01 AM
LaGrange pre dates our America's Independence and we have this historic landmark located in West Islip and we debating whether to knock it down to build another CVS???
Rich G March 13, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Everyone so concerned with the historic value of the building should buy it. Then the new owners can do with it what they like - as long as if everyone else agrees with what you decide to do with your owned property that is.
pampatriot March 13, 2013 at 01:28 PM
We don't have a down town. No boutiques in our neck of the woods. I say leave the buildings shell. Gut the inside. Corner off small areas for boutique style stores, like a jewelry boutique, like a bunger style boutique, maybe a prom dress boutique, a bathing suit boutique. A small Babylon Bean style coffee shop, or a quaint little patisserie like Jaquelines, or a cool sandwich shop, as the last pit stop before the beach. There could be a cute little Christmas shop inside, a baby clothing boutique, people could shop there by foot or by car. Our community would have a place to shop at Christmas time, teens would have a place they could work at locally, it could be beautiful, while keeping the LaGrange the historic landmark building people in this community are comforted by. I wish I had the money, that is what I would try to do there. Just a suggestion.
Rich G March 13, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Awesome idea Pam! CVS should develop the property for not only themselves, but to help small business owners build these types of smaller stores. I am just not sure they wish to be in that kind of development business, but it is a good "helping hand" idea for the local community.
KWZ March 13, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Folks. The building is not for sale. Owner only interested in leasing it to make money. He had offers. Stop with this "If only I had the money" nonsense.
Patricia Sullivan March 13, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Excellent idea!!!
DAF March 13, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Who actually owns the LaGrange property? He could be the real culprit - especially if he is refusing to sell to interested parties. Why isn't pressure being placed on the owner to sell the property?
Rich March 13, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Is the owner getting a tax break because it is a Historic Landmark? Is the owner being fined for not maintaining the property? Since there apparently ARE interested buyers who want to restore LaGrange, maybe it's time to get the Town of Islip to nudge the owner to fix it up or sell it.
Rich March 13, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Here's something to think about while your contemplating the fate of West Islip's only Historic Landmark. When the communities of Babylon are bragging about the Post Office Cafe (restored Post Office), and Islip has Tellers (restored Bank building), and Farmingdale has the Library( restored Library), as well as many others, we can brag about our brand new 24 hour CVS with it's Drive Window. Once it's gone, it's gone forever.
Thomas Duignan March 14, 2013 at 02:30 AM
Losing this beautiful building and landmark will be a shame. Our family celebrated our daughter's first holy communion there. The cuisine was excellent and the staff was extremely professional. The proprietor, (I believe his name was Mr. Pauulsen), was the consummate gentleman. It was a great experience. But now we lose it to another drug store. When we walk along downtown Babylon Village or Sayville we appreciate the little shops and attractions. I hope the building remains where it is and is restored.
Thomas Duignan March 14, 2013 at 02:30 AM
Losing this beautiful building and landmark will be a shame. Our family celebrated our daughter's first holy communion there. The cuisine was excellent and the staff was extremely professional. The proprietor, (I believe his name was Mr. Pauulsen), was the consummate gentleman. It was a great experience. But now we lose it to another drug store. When we walk along downtown Babylon Village or Sayville we appreciate the little shops and attractions. I hope the building remains where it is and is restored.
marianne mingua March 15, 2013 at 05:55 PM
wow thankyou for great pics. brought back so many memories
Rich March 17, 2013 at 01:33 PM
I hope we don't have to tell our children and grandchildren that we bulldozed a 200 year old Historical Landmark just to build another CVS drugstore.
Halford March 17, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Sorry to say, but it takes money to run a successful business- unfortunately the La Grange was not doing enough business to stay open...it would almost definitely be way too expensive to ever open again...as for fixing it up and make it into boutique stores is interesting, but let's be honest- do you really think that those stores could do enough business to remain open?? Doubtful...I am not necessarily in favor of a CVS, but pretty soon if nothing gets accomplished, the "Patch" will be full of comments about the conditions at the La Grange as they are sure to deteriorate....
Rich March 17, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Unless I am mistaken the owner of LaGrange can be fined by the Town of Islip if he doesn't maintain this property? This should be an incentive to sell to one of the restaurants that wants to buy.
Rich G March 17, 2013 at 07:23 PM
A McDonald's would do a booming business there.
Rich March 17, 2013 at 08:35 PM
I think the owner of Windows on the Lake as well as several other restaurants were interested in buying LaGrange and restoring it but the owner would not sell. Maybe if he loses his tax break for having a Historic Site and gets fined for not maintaining his properties he might reconsider their offers.
Halford March 18, 2013 at 12:13 PM
There is a McDonalds about a mile away up on Sunrise....how about a Chili's or Applebee's ??
Halford March 18, 2013 at 12:15 PM
I still maintain that restoring and running a "new" La Grange, would be way too expensive with little return on their investment
Rich March 18, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Why is that a problem if there are buyers who want to do just that??? Wouldn't the community be better served if the owner who is NOT maintaining the property would sell it to an interested buyer who wants to restore the Landmark and use it as a restaurant. Rather than "trying to move it or bulldoze it" for another CVS.
Rich G March 18, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Chili's or Applebee's would be great too, but a McDonalds would give the HS kids a place to hang out, while cutting third period bio. Moreover, with the high traffic count, that corner could easily sustain another McDonalds. KFC/Baskin Robbins would be a good second choice. Then again, a nice dog park, with a really rad doggy obstacle course could be cool too...Hang 20 Canine Dude!
WI Buyer March 18, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Rich I want to buy your house. What's that its not for sale. Well too bad your neighbors want you to sell it to me. They have all sorts of ideas of what to do with your property that is NOT FOR SALE! Get it?
Rich March 18, 2013 at 02:48 PM
All I am saying is that IF he wants to keep the property then he must maintain it or he should be fined by the Town of Islip like everyone else. And if he is not going to restore the Historic Landmark, he should LOOSE the tax break.
Rich G March 18, 2013 at 03:17 PM
I respectfully disagree Rich. Albeit the property may not be pristine, it is in no worse shape than the vacant lot accross the street at the end of Higbie, or the Zeus property, or the old boarded up vacant house on Mtk accross from the library next to the church. Does it qualify for "blight" - perhaps it is close, but not sure it is really anything other than simply a vacant building. As far as any tax breaks; the condition of a property should hardly be a condition of its historic status.
Rich March 18, 2013 at 03:39 PM
If the property owner does not restore the property anc he won't let someone else restore the property, eventually the property will not be able to be restored. The Zeus factory is presently occupied daily with people coming in and out of the facility. The lot across the street is just that a vacant lot. But LaGrange can still be restored but time is running out on the Landmark. All it will take is vandals or a fire and we will have lost a Historic Landmark forever. If the owner is not going to restore the building but simply let it fall apart over time, why is the Town extending a tax break to him.
Halford March 18, 2013 at 05:00 PM
I didn't say that it was a "problem", but it would be a major factor in why it won't happen (in my opinion)....I still say it would cost too much to restore AND then make it profitable
Halford March 18, 2013 at 05:03 PM
I'm sure that any prospective owners of a McDonalds there, would just LOVE (as you state) a place to "hang out"....BTW there is a "dog park" going east on Montauk Hwy., ....THAT ain't happening........
Victor Giardina March 25, 2013 at 11:05 PM
No more tax breaks for the greedy. The landlord didn't maintain the property so he should lose all tax breaks. The should be taxed on the worth of the property.
West Islip Resident March 25, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Rich, I am in fear of exactly what you have said. An accidentally fire occuring paving the way for a new building. I hope the fine members of the west islip fire department remember that it's an abandoned building if god forbid such a thing occurs and take an exterior attack approach not placing members in uneeded harms way.
Rich March 27, 2013 at 03:03 PM
LaGrange has been neglected and left abandoned by the owners. There are interested buyers who would like to restore the building and improve the area for the neighbors and the entire community. If the building eventually can't be restored due to fire or time, the owners are responsible then there should be No tax breaks or variances issued on the property.


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