It All Started With a Sign

History, Nature Center, Washington Lodge

Many thought we were crazy.  The building is over 7,000 square feet, was ransacked including all the copper pipes, had broken windows, torn ceilings, and walls.  In addition, there were several raccoons plus other wild animals living in the lodge.  But we knew there was something special about the Washington Lodge and as big as the job is to restore and renovate, those of us at CEED knew the task had to be done.

We know a bit of the history… The Unkechaugs were the first people to reside on the land. In 1655, there was an agreement which began the unequal transfer of the land to the colonists.  After that, not much is known until the late 1800’s when the Fairchild’s built the second empire portion of the building.  In the early 1900’s George Constant Washington bought the property to bring his instant coffee enterprise to the area, but the factory did not materialize.  The property went through many transformations after that, including a restaurant.  In the 1960’s the Marist Brothers purchased the property and owned it until it was sold in 2004.

From 2004 until 2018, no one resided in the Washington Lodge.  The original purchasers in 2004, were planning on subdividing the property, but were eventually bought out by the Post Morrow Foundation, South Country Farms, L.L.C., the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County.  After many discussions of possibilities, many decided that the best decision might be to raise the building.  As one can imagine, a building being vacant for over ten years had much damage and would cost millions of dollars to restore and renovate.  That is when CEED came in.  In 2017, the founders of CEED approached the Post Morrow Foundation and Town of Brookhaven with a dream but not much money.  The consensus from these discussions were that CEED would be a great fit for the location but must procure much of the funding needed for restoration and renovation of the lodge.  Here we are just a few years later, on the path for amazing transformation of the Lodge.

In order to restore, we must know the past.  Over the years, with local research already established, we did learn a bit about the history.  This past summer, we were approached with an offer to sell us a Washington Lodge sign.  Although the sign does look like it may have been a part of the history of the lodge, we were not completely sure.  The colors match some of the colors on the lodge in earlier years, but there are silhouettes of George Washington, the first president, and his wife, Martha, on the filigree in the sign.  This initiated a renewed quest for information regarding the history.  We started looking for a photograph of the Washington Lodge with the sign.  We have learned new bits, including the possibility of the well-known architect, Isaac Green, designing a renovation or addition on the lodge.

If you have any information or photos of the Washington Lodge and surrounding grounds, we would love to hear from you. Please email Sally Wellinger at sally@ceedli.org with your stories, history information or copies of photos. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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