By Peter Sloggatt
A landmark home that has stood since 1890 at a prominent point on Huntington Harbor has disappeared from the landscape.
The white-columned mansion at East Point, a peninsula that juts into Huntington Harbor on East Shore Road, was a landmark to boaters on Huntington Harbor for well over a century. It was also something of a celebrity having been the site of numerous movie, television and photo shoots in recent years.
Bulldozers moved in about two weeks ago and tore down the mansion to make way for a new home to be built on the prime location.
“The proposed new house is to be built on almost the exact same footprint of the old house,” said Gail Devol, village administrator for the Village of Huntington Bay. Village officials approved demolition plans, and the new construction was approved after going through zoning and site plan review, she said, adding that the new owners are “very excited about the project.”
Doug and Kristine Grodsky purchased the just over 3-acre property last September for $3.42 million, according to the realty tracking website Zillow.
The home that dominated East Point was reportedly in poor condition, but the demolition took the local preservation community by surprise.
“We were surprised,” said Toby Kissam, a trustee of Huntington Historical Society. “We thought they [the previous owners] had sold it to someone who was going to renovate it.”
Kissam added that society staff also met with the Grodskys after they made the purchase.
Kissam recounted the home’s history, from initial construction by a grandson of Daniel Kissam, a prominent physician and member of one of the town’s earliest families (and distant ancestor of Toby), to its most recent owner, the colorful Gloria Smith.
Smith was a band performer, twirler and professional water ballet performer at Jones Beach, where she met her lifeguard husband, Wesley. Smith had owned the Yankee Peddler Antiques on New York Avenue in Huntington Station for several years when she and her husband bought East Point.
Smith filled the home with an eclectic collection of antiques, and actively marketed the home to location scouts as a site for television, movie and photo shoots. Over the years, the home saw time on the silver screen in such films as “Dogs of War” with Christopher Walken and JoBeth Williams; “Empire” starring Isabella Rossellini; and on the television series “Central Park West” starring Mariel Hemingway. As a photo location, the house was the site where NFL star Howie Long posed in Hanes underwear; and James Earl Jones “let his fingers do the walking” according to an obituary published after Smith’s death in 2013.
Smith’s children put the mansion on the market in 2016, asking $4.3 million. It was marketed as an eight-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath “grand dame” with 11 fireplaces, and an elevator to its third-floor penthouse, a three-and-a-half-car garage, private dock, private beach and waterfront cottage, and “stunning waterviews from every room.”
The real estate listing also read: “Needs TLC. Sold ‘as is.’”