While Smithtown is rich with preserved historic properties, one building in the heart of town hasn't been so lucky. And it all boils down to money.
Arthur House, the home built in 1752 and owned by multiple generations of Smithtown's , sits vacant on the property of the Smithtown Central School District at the corner of Main Street and New York Avenue. The house belongs to the district, but two other entities have expressed interest in the past in the building – the Smithtown Historical Society and the Town of Smithtown.
One option that was explored, according to former superintendent of the school district Edward Ehmann, was to move the building east on Main Street to the Historical Society's property. This, however, was nixed when the costs became to great for both the nonprofit and the district.
"It was too expensive and the amount of work it would require to move the overhead wires on Main Street and to jack the thing up and trailer it over was too expensive," he said. "The school district is not interested in using district funds to do that type of project. When the historical society saw the price tag too they didn’t really have the means to do that as well."
Brad Harris, town historian and member of the society's board, agrees with Ehmann's statement.
"The costs of moving it alone would be very expensive," he said. "Just taking that house and moving it down Main Street to the other end of town would be a disaster when you consider all the electric wires and lights that are on the highway, it would be a small fortune to make that move."
Kiernan Lannon, executive director of the historical society, said moving it to the society property near the Frank Brush Barn would be a great idea, but not feasible for the school district, town or society to do.
"It’s pretty simple to say it’s a good solution to move it here but the act of actually facilitating that movement is costly and not the easiest thing to do to move a historic house of that age as well," he said.
Harris said the town taking over the building was a much better solution, and he tried to convince the town to renovate the building and use it as office space. Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio wasn't up for the idea.
“The supervisor did not like the idea and nothing ever came of it," Harris said.
Vecchio said renovations needed to be done to Arthur House were too expensive for the town. What was planned to go into Arthur House has since found a new home – the former golf store on Main Street, .
Harris said all talks with the district and the town stopped roughly three years ago. Vecchio said the town no longer has any interest in the house.
Cosmetic upgrades were made to the house in the past three years, including painting and landscaping, work done by local Eagle Scouts. The school district has not held any classes or educational programs in the house in years, and the house is currently used for light storage by the district.
While some upgrades have been made to Arthur House, Lannon is unsure the property could last much longer without proper renovations.
"It can’t continue to be in this state of limbo where it is right not because eventually the worst thing is going to happen, which is it will fall apart over time," he said.