THE BRUCE HOUSE
The Bruce House at 148 Main Street is the Trust’s headquarters. Built in c. 1924 by Mr. Bruce for his family, it was solidly constructed and survived years of neglect and abandonment. The Trust was able to restore it to near original condition for adaptive use as the Trust’s offices. The Bruce House restoration clearly demonstrates the Trust’s goals of preserving the past and planning the future.
On December 14, 2011, the property also became the permanent home of the Rubber Factory Worker Houses that were moved from Old Town Road. These were “sold” to the Trust by the Setauket Fire District for a nominal price.
How the Bruce House was acquired: The Three Village Historical Society acquired it in 2003 with a grant secured by State Assemblyman Steve Englebright. At that time, the Society’s plan was to house the archives there and provide educational space. Because it would require expansion to serve this purpose and was, therefore, not suitable, the Society transferred the property to the Trust. At first this was under lease agreement while the original grant obligation was completed. In 2010 the Society transferred title to the Bruce House to the Trust. This meant that the Trust not only had headquarters but had a site for relocating the Rubber Factory Worker Houses and thus save them from the wrecking ball – a goal shared by both organizations.
Restoration: The original state grant for the acquisition price had included a small sum to start stabilizing and renovating the Bruce House. Under the Trust’s direction these funds - later followed by donations from the community - were used to maximum advantage. All plumbing was upgraded and the house was rewired for contemporary power, lighting, and data cable standards. Electrical and water services were then reconnected and a new gas service supplies a new high-efficiency hot-air system. All the original windows, doors, trim, and hardware were able to be restored. The original plaster walls were repaired and stripped of old peeling paint and were repainted. The wood floors were carefully refinished to retain their original patina. Three original ceiling light fixtures were restored and their pull-chain switches augmented with new wall switches.
Next: Although some work remains to be done on the Bruce House’s interior - completing the kitchenette and restoring the second floor loft - it is serving very comfortably as the Trust’s headquarters and meeting place. It has a place to keep all its records, administer its programs, and coordinate volunteer activities. Other community groups are also using the “Board Room” for meetings of not more than 10-12 people.
The Trust is an all-volunteer organization. We could use some help in organizing the record storing system and hope for a second computer work station for use by Trustees, volunteers, or even an intern to administer programs and activities.
Thank you: State Assemblyman Englebright’s preservation vision and generous support have made it possible for us to get this far. Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld, former First District Town Councilman, was able to secure a Town of Brookhaven Community Enhancement grant that was used, in part, to support the restoration of the Bruce House and to prepare for the relocation of the Rubber Factory Worker Houses.
Many hands make light work. To all the volunteers who gathered for work parties to remove nails from the wood floors, strip the layers of paint and dirt from the walls, windows and door trim. Luckily the original five-panel doors hadn’t been painted. This was tedious work requiring patience and persistence. Thank you.
Thanks to the following for helping the Trust bring this building back: Barber Brothers Masonry, Lake Grove Electric, Command Air Mechanical, carpenter John Savastano, and others for their high quality work at fair prices that helped us remake the infrastructure of the house. Electrician Bob Heaney, landscape contractor Steve Antos, and tree specialist Bill Docherty all provided valuable free services for which the Trust is truly grateful.