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18th century Thomas Dering House demolished

COURTESY PHOTO The original house in which former town supervisor Thomas Dering lived has been demolished.

COURTESY PHOTO| The original house where former town Supervisor Thomas Dering lived has been demolished.

It was once the home of Thomas Dering (1720-1785), a delegate to the Third Provisional Congress in New York and former supervisor of Shelter Island.Today, the house constructed around 1700, is no more, demolished last October after David and Brenda Harms obtained a permit from the town Building Department.

The couple hired an engineer when they planned additions to Dering Farm at 55 Cobbetts Lane, and renovate the structure  But instead of construction and renovation, they learned the underpinnings of the building were rotten and wouldn’t withstand the work, according to Building Department Inspector Bill Banks.

The couple had already poured a lot of money into the house they purchased in April 2005 and while it might have withstood another few years of use as it was, eventually, it would have to come down, said Mr. Harms, an attorney based in New York City with the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell.

A close replica is rising in its place, he said.

JULIE LANE PHOTO A new structure based on the original was designed by Island architect Ian McDonald and is being built by general contractor Robert Reylek.

JULIE LANE PHOTO | A new structure was designed by Island architect Ian McDonald and is being built by general contractor Robert Reylek.

The new structure was designed by architect Ian McDonald, a member of the Shelter Island Planning Board, and is being constructed by Robert Reylek.

What could be salvaged from the original structure will be incorporated into the rebuilt house, Mr. Harms said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

“Nobody’s sorrier than we are that we couldn’t save it,” Mr. Harms said. “There was no alternative.”

With a rotting foundation; shingles, windows and doors  and a lack of insulation that resulted in “heating the outdoors,” it was too far gone, Mr. Harms said.

At the same time, he noted the house never was on the state or federal Historic Registers.

That the demolition took place came to the attention of some area residents only recently. Aside from a demolition permit, there was no need for Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals actions that would have brought it to public attention.

The house is set back near the Manhanset Firehouse on wooded property that blocks its view from the street. Sounds of demolition likely carried, but could have been mistaken for construction noise.

It came to John Colby’s knowledge as he was gathering information about the history of Gardiner’s Bay Country Club because the former Thomas Dering House had become Manhanset House, the original clubhouse.

It later became Manhanset House, the original clubhouse for what is now the country club.

Mr. Colby served as chairman of the Dering Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals and was recently appointed to the Village Board following the resignation of Mary Walker.

Bemoaning its loss, Mr. Colby said, “It’s one of the oldest houses on the Island,” Mr. Colby said, .

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