Neglected And Abandoned Baxter House


The current owners of the Baxter House (on the corner of Shore Road and Central Drive) have abandoned and neglected our beautiful historic landmark for years. To those of us concerned with the preservation of historic landmarks, this is known as “demolition by neglect,” a strategy a homeowner can use to obtain permission to develop a historic property. Adding insult to injury, these owners now want to divide the property and build a second house in the backyard.

The Board of Zoning Appeals of the Village of Baxter Estates doesn’t think there is much they can do. Chris Bain, president of the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society, disagrees: “Several Baxter Estates residents have told us that if a village homeowner allows their lawn to grow wildly to an unkempt and unsightly state, the village has the power to send in a crew to clean up the mess. The village then sends the homeowner the bill. If that is so, why doesn’t the village employ the same principle, and fix the roof, the gutters, the front porch?”

This issue concerns not only the residents of Baxter Estates, but all the residents of Port Washington. To really understand how important the Baxter House is to all of us, visit the website of the Cow Neck Historical Society, where you can view a fascinating “Then and Now” photo essay about the Baxter House and its role in our history. After that, I hope some of you will be inspired to email the Village of Baxter Estates your thoughts at

Should the Village of Baxter Estates fail to step up to the plate, perhaps you
would also like to suggest some alternate names for the village as well, maybe along the lines of McMansion Estates?

—Ross Lumpkin


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  1. “The current owners of the Baxter House…have abandoned and neglected OUR beautiful historical landmark…” (Emphasis supplied). Hey guess what folks. It’s not your house. The solution is simple – have the community buy the house.

  2. I was saddened to hear of the deterioration of the Baxter House, personally and professionally.

    I and my then wife purchased the house in 1968, mindful of its historical significance, as a rare pre revolutionary war landmark, and sensitive to its distinctive siting and singular architecture.

    We took an owner’s pride in the house, which during our years there was featured in an article in NY Times , where not coincidentally I was an urban affairs reporter in the early 60s. The house subsequently also was cited as a setting for a national perspective in a book I authored in 1976 ,”The Dream Deferred” People, Politics and Planning In Suburbia.”

    That the house is the name sake of the village of Baxter Estates, lending it an identity and history, should be a serious concern of residents, and cause alone for the village trustees and other area political constructs to actively pursue the preservation of the landmark.

    There is much that can be done to thwart its demolition by neglect or being used to extort variances to compromise its prominent setting. If the owner is recalcitrant, as she appears to be, the property can be heavily fined as a treat to public health and welfare, and in time condemned, its value diminished in a legal public taking. and subsequently sold on the private market with strict conditions for its preservation as a single family residence, or non profit use.

    Landmarks such as the Baxter House if preserved and protected, I feel, present a vital continuum to counter the anomie and anonymity that threatens our communities and democracy. Also, it would be nice for me, my children who were raised there, and my grandchildren, and someday theirs, to see the house and be reminded it was once a home.

    Sam Hall Kaplan
    Malibu, California


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