As we all know, the Baxter House was the subject of a mysterious fire a little over a week ago. Very little in the way of public response has been made by the village officials of Baxter Estates except for a brief statement of loss on the village webpage. Yesterday, my friend was visiting the Baxter Estates Village Hall when the current owner of the Baxter House property arrived with an armful of donuts and other pastries. The current owner of the Baxter House said that she wanted to thank the officials of the Village of Baxter Estates for being good to her.
The mayor, trustees and the Landmarks Commission of Baxter Estates have indeed been good to her. The current owner let the historic Baxter House fall into disrepair without paying one cent to the village in fines, although orders to remedy were repeatedly issued. If the house had been kept properly, would there have been a fire? We are awaiting the fire marshal’s report.
For those that think the current owner was blindsided by the landmarking of the Baxter House a year after she bought it, I understand the landmarking process started three years before the current owner bought the Baxter House. I understand she was told of the possibility of the house being landmarked. Even if she is not a professional in real estate, she needed to do her due diligence before buying the property.
There will be a meeting of the Landmarks Commission on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Port Washington Public Library to consider whether to totally demolish the Baxter House. The current owner would like to do that to build a new home. Many people think that the Baxter House, despite the fire, can be repaired and rebuilt. As a landmarked building, we all have a say in that. Please attend.
Why do I care? I love the Baxter House because I grew up in the west where there are no buildings going back to the American Revolution. The Baxter House property is a sentinel, reminding us of our American history, because Israel Baxter fought for our country under Captain John Sands of Sands Point and General George Washington. The house, like so many others on Long Island, housed Hessian soldiers fighting for England. It is irreplaceable.