North Fork Farmhouse Follow-Up 293K

SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO SEE FOR YOURSELF. That was the case with the Southold Victorian on the North Fork of Long Island whose listing I blogged about a few days ago. Even though it is more than an hour’s drive and a $30 round trip ferry fare through Shelter Island from my house in Springs, I made the trek on Sunday morning to see just what was wrong with the place for it to be priced so low. I knew there had to be something.

Ah, yes… it is an intriguing situation, and an object lesson in how listing photos can lie. Head on in the photos, the place looks normal: a gabled farmhouse of the late 1800s, with a wide front porch. But there were no photos of the sides or back of the house.

Here’s why: for reasons known only to previous owners, the house had metastasized over the years, with a series of completely and utterly wrong-headed, senseless, absurdly un-designed additions and extensions. What we have here is a demolition project. The whole house doesn’t need to be taken down — just 2/3 of the existing 3,600-square-foot structure (if it can be called a structure), to bring it back to approximately its original size and shape.

There’s very little in the way of old detail, even in the original part of the house, and the rooms have been mostly chopped up with extraneous walls. There are little jigs and jogs that lead to nowhere, closets with windows, room after tiny room so confusing you can’t even tell what’s meant to be the dining room, the living room, or the master bedroom. The whole house is covered with vinyl siding, over 1950s asbestos shingle. Maybe there’s clapboard underneath, or perhaps that’s long gone.

Any bad decision that could be made has been made. There are a couple of roof decks that have no logical access (you have to climb through windows to get to them). They would provide a view of Long Island Sound, which is tantalizingly nearby — a matter of a few hundred yards — but inaccessible, because of fenced neighboring properties, except by roundabout road.

The balusters on the original staircase have been replaced with new Victorian-style ones, below. The floors are newish and mismatched.

The windows in the “best” room, below — a coffered (though low) ceilinged space in the middle of the old part of the house — were replaced with an ugly modern ‘picture window.’

One of the rear additions, below, was meant to be a rec room or family room of some sort. It is dark, water damaged, visibly moldy.

A huge disproportionate growth on the second floor, below, is a sun-flooded room with another modern picture window that should perhaps, if it’s to be anything, be a bedroom or office, has been given over to a crummy-looking Jacuzzi — someone’s idea of a good use of that space.

There are two kitchens (both awful) and 3-1/2 baths, done cheaply and horribly. There are approximately 7 bedrooms.

The only original windows are in the attic, below, reached by a ladder that folds down out of the ceiling.

On paper, the place is exactly what I was looking for when I began my search for an old house on Long Island in early 2009: a Victorian farmhouse fixer-upper in a secluded location — it’s at the end of an unpaved road, on a 1/2 acre lot with abundant sunshine — for under 300K. But the amount of money that would probably have to go into demolition and rubbish carting alone, not to mention rebuilding, makes it no bargain. As you look around, incredulous, the house even begins to seem over-priced (though it is a foreclosure, and offers are being accepted).

On the plus side, the basement looks clean, the circuit breaker panel fairly new. There are two furnaces in undetermined condition, forced-air ducts running hither and yon, and the plumbing pipes have been properly drained and winterized.

Anybody know how much demo costs? If only I owned a bulldozer.

Victorian Farmhouse in North Fork 293K

HERE’S A BRAND NEW-TO-MARKET foreclosure, looking mighty cute — a classic Victorian farmhouse with a front porch and gabled attic. Makes me want to run right out to the East End of Long Island and take a look. It’s at the very end of a road, heavily wooded, a block from Long Island Sound.

Would somebody who knows the area well please let us know what’s wrong with it;-)?

There’s a coffered ceiling in the living room, right, a mantel if not a working fireplace, wood floors, French doors. Nothing wrong with any of that. In another photo, however (the room with red walls, below), there are recessed lights in the ceiling, a symptom of misguided reno somewhere along the line. Making me wonder why there’s no kitchen shot. With luck, the kitchen is “unimproved” since at least the 1930s!

The dining room, below, shows nice high ceilings and more of the dreaded recessed lights.

An overhead of the property on the listing sites reveals a bunch of random outbuildings that might be demolished for more vegetable-gardening space.

See how fantasies begin? Doesn’t take much for this old-house addict in springtime.

For the full listing, go here, or here. You might have to register for all the details. Or do your own Google search: the address is 975 Anderson Road, Southold, NY 11971.

1840s North Fork Farmhouse, 23.6 Acres, $1.2million

LOOK WHAT’S STILL ON THE MARKET: one of my favorite houses from last winter’s house-quest. Only now they’re advertising it for $1.2 million; last winter it was $499,000. How can that be?

Oh, well. The new pricing, less disingenuous than the old pricing, includes 23 acres attached to the house — acres which cannot be unattached, ever, nor sold for profit. That’s because a previous owner cashed in already, by selling the land in perpetuity to the Peconic Land Trust, which insures at least some part of Eastern Long Island will remain forever farmland. The land can be used for agriculture, or rented to farmers, or turned over at break-even. It can’t be subdivided or built on.

It’s a treasure of a house, in Southold on the North Fork, a few miles west of Greenport and a mile from Sound beaches. One of those square Italianate houses you see a lot in upstate New York, with a side porch and a small barn – I’m guessing 1840s – in near-original condition (not to say good). It needs a heap of work, but the architectural character hasn’t been messed with.

More info is here.

What you can get right now on the North Fork under 500K


A snowy Sunday on Long Island’s North Fork, doing drive-bys and walk-arounds of vintage properties under $500K, with mixed results.  It looks like half a mil is not enough in these parts to get a great house in a great location; you might get one, but not both.

But hope springs eternal.  I’ll be checking out more promising listings in days and weeks to come.

Here’s some of what I saw yesterday.  For more info on these houses, go to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island website; search on town and asking price.

Greenport disappointment, $449K (right) p10200981 An 1890 brown clapboard village Victorian with front porch, in need of much work, on too small a lot, too close to downscale neighboring houses, for too much money.

Thrilling house, misleading listing (below) Late-19th c. Italianate gem in Southold needs tons of work – but who cares? It’s a rare find in a classic North Fork setting, with long farmland views, a small barn, a side porch, and a fair amount of interior detail, enough to suggest what a delightful home this could be.

Listed at $499K on one acre, it will be sold only with 22 adjacent acres for an additional $880K, or $40,000/acre.  The farmland is ‘protected’ in perpetuity by a Suffolk County farmland preservation program; it must be used for agriculture and cannot be subdivided or built on.  But it could work for the aspiring nurseryman/woman, vineyard owner, or organic farmer.p10201201



Wow location, not much house (below). Fantastic wooded acre in Southold, mere yards from Great Pond, and a hop, skip and jump to Long Island Sound beaches.

The house itself is an uninsulated 2BR blue cottage from around 1950 in good shape, in an old-fashioned-feeling compound of cottages, with a tasteful shingled McMansion next door.  Permits are in place for a dock and expansion of the house.

A brick fireplace is the only heat source.  As is, this is strictly a summer place, or three-season for hardy types.  Worth 499K?  So far, no one seems to think so.