History of the Freeport Landmarks Preservation Commission
Landmarking Freeport’s historical locations began in 1975 on the eve of the American Bicentennial. The Village Board appointed Freeport Historical Society President, Lillian Glaser, Freeport Memorial Library Director Wilfred Morin, and Village Historian Clinton Metz to a special advisory committee charged with the preservation and restoration of local historical landmarks. Under Bicentennial director and long-time Freeport resident, Robert Raynor and Nassau County Historian Edward Smits, this advisory committee attempted to save the Raynor Homestead on South Main Street and the old fire house and Whaley Cottage on Mill Road.
Unfortunately these buildings, along with the Elks Club, Freeport Municipal Stadium, and Guy Lombardo’s residence, were ultimately demolished. It was not until 1985 that the Village of Freeport developed an official landmark ordinance under then Village attorney, William Glacken. Modeled on the Town of Hempstead Landmarks Preservation Commission, Freeport was one of the first communities to adopt a landmarks law. According to Metz, “The importance of a landmarks law is to keep people from tearing down things before they realize what they are doing.” The commission is composed of nine members including five Freeport residents, an architect, an architectural historian, an attorney, and the Village of Freeport Superintendent of Buildings.
To date, the Commission has landmarked several structures including: the Brooklyn Water Works (demolished in 2006), the clock located in front of the Meadow Brook Bank Building on Sunrise Highway, Freeport Historical Society Museum, and 92 Lena Avenue. Though landmark status was supported by the Landmarks Commission, the Village ultimately denied the landmarking of the Meadow Brook Bank Building and the Freeport Memorial Library. The Freeport Post Office is currently the only structure in Freeport listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Meadow Brook Bank Building and Freeport Memorial Library are both eligible for State landmark status. The Village Board of Trustees denied landmark status to the Freeport Memorial Library in 2014.
In addition to landmarking structures, the Freeport Landmarks Preservation Commission is responsible for erecting historic roadside markers. These markers include: Freeport Point Shipyard (Woodcleft Avenue), B’nai Israel Synagogue (Commercial and Mount Avenue), The United Methodist Church, Freeport Post Office, Village Hall, WWI Trench Mortar (Guy Lombardo Avenue and Rose Street), Crystal Lake Hotel (Guy Lombardo Avenue and Southside Avenue), L.I.G.H.T.S. Club (Fairview Place and Branch Avenue), Freeport Municipal Stadium (Mill Road), Exempt Fire House (North Long Beach Avenue), Freeport Memorial Library, Guy Lombardo’s House, Playland Park (Guy Lombardo Avenue, south of Front Street), Parrott Rife (Sunrise Highway and Center Street), Miracle House, and the site of George Washington’s route during his tour of Long Island (Babylon Turnpike and Lakeview Avenue).
In 2015, the Commission, in collaboration with the Freeport Historical Society, was awarded seven roadside markers by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. The Pomeroy Foundation “strongly believes that historic markers play an important role in local historic preservation by serving a dual purpose. They educate the public and foster historic tourism, which in turn can provide much needed economic benefits to the towns and villages where the markers are placed.” The foundation had a number of requirements including: written permission from the owner of the property, must be within the time frame of 1740-1915, and all information from the marker must be derived from primary sources.
The Pomeroy Foundation markers include: Woodcleft Canal (Woodcleft Avenue), Freeport Bank (23 South Main Street), Trubia Rifle (South Main and Church Streets), Kelby House (211 Lena Avenue), Seaman Avenue School (Ocean Avenue and Lincoln Place), Archer Street School (Archer Street near Miller Avenue), and Columbus Avenue School (North Columbus Avenue near Washburn Avenue).
The Freeport Landmarks Preservation Commission meets at the Freeport Memorial the third Tuesday of the month.
There are five structures/sites in the Village of Freeport that have been granted landmark status:
In 1994. the Meadow Brook Bank building (also known as the First National Bank) was denied landmark status in by the Village of Freeport Board. The Freeport Memorial Library was denied landmark status in 2014.