Halesite – Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci announced the Town of Huntington has been awarded a $4,000 Technical Assistance Grant for an engineering study of the Peter Crippen House, a structure significant to Huntington’s Black History, from the Preservation League of New York State.
Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci stated, “We are thrilled to announce this significant development in our efforts to preserve Huntington’s Black History, which is a priority to my administration, and we are grateful to the Preservation League of New York State for sharing our belief that the preservation of the Peter Crippen House, named for one of our first African American landowners in Huntington, is worthy of this investment.”
On January 20, 2021, the Town of Huntington was notified by the Preservation League of New York State that it would be awarded a $4,000 Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) to fund a structural assessment of the Peter Crippen House to determine to what extent the building, or its timbers, can be preserved for reconstruction at another site, the location of which has yet to be determined. Once paperwork on the grant is finalized and the funds are received, the Town estimates the study may be able to begin as soon as March. In September 2020, the Town Board applied for $4,000 in Preservation League of New York State grant funding for a structural assessment of the house.
The Technical Assistance Grant Program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Generous additional support for this project has been provided by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area.
The north wing of the Peter Crippen House is believed to be the Town's first mill building built in 1658; the mill was taken out of service in 1672, moved from Mill Lane to Creek Road in 1674 and converted into a residence. In 1864, it was purchased by Peter Crippen, an African American who was born a free person in 1809 on a plantation in Virginia and came to Huntington in the 1830s, arriving to work at the Crossman brickyards in Lloyd Neck in 1836. Peter Crippen was a prominent member of Huntington's early African American community: In 1843, he was a founding member of the African Methodist Ebenezer Church in Huntington (currently the Bethel AME Church). After Crippen’s death in 1875, the house was expanded to the south; these sections do not share the historic designation of the original building. The house stayed in the Crippen family until the Town initiated a purchase of it in 2017 and closed on the property in June 2019.
In December 2019, the Peter Crippen House and accessory garage were declared to be structurally unsound and in danger of imminent collapse by the Town's Deputy Director of Engineering, a Professional Engineer. It has been the plan of the Lupinacci administration to have any demolition or dismantling of the house overseen by the Town’s Engineering Department to ensure any salvageable pieces of the structure will be properly preserved; the engineering study will help guide the demolition process in determining what can be salvaged. The structure is a public safety hazard and is secured behind a fence with a locked gate; entry into the house is not permitted, which requires the required demolition of the structure to be treated as a controlled demolition with asbestos in place. The demolition contract approved by the Town Board in June 2020 requires a pre-construction meeting to discuss options to salvage the timber frame of the oldest section of the structure to the extent possible.
This past summer, the Town submitted an inquiry to the State Historic Preservation Office seeking eligibility for listing the Peter Crippen House in the National Register of Historic Places; In November 2020, the State Historic Preservation Office determined that the house is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which makes the property eligible for State grant funds.
In September 2020, Supervisor Lupinacci and Town Historian Robert Hughes were able to secure an $8,500 donation from the Manes Peace Prize Foundation to conduct an archaeological study on-site before any demolition occurs at the Crippen House; the preliminary field work, led by archaeologist Dr. Allison McGovern of VHB Engineering, commenced on Thursday, January 7 and ended Wednesday, January 13. The Town awaits a report from the archaeologist with an analysis of the dig’s findings and recommendations on whether to expand the study with further digging.
In January 2021, the Town submitted a letter of intent to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in order to secure an invitation to apply for grant funding from the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund; awarded funds would be used to hire an architect qualified in historic preservation to prepare a plan to guide a historically sensitive restoration of the Peter Crippen House; the Town awaits an April decision on the invitation to apply for the grant funding.
In the photo (l-r): Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci with letter from Preservation League of New York State announcing Technical Assistance Grant award for engineering study at Peter Crippen House.