The Town of Huntington has received a grant for an engineering study of the Peter Crippen House, a home built in the 1600s with significance in African American history.
Supervisor Chad A Lupinacci announced the $4,000 grant for an engineering study from the Preservation League of New York State.
He said, “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.”
The grant will help 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.
Additional support for the project was 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 free in 1809 on a plantation in Virginia and came to Huntington in the 1830s to work at the Crossman brickyards in Lloyd Neck. 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 purchased and closed on the property in June 2019.
In December 2019, the house and accessory garage were declared structurally unsound and in danger of imminent collapse by the town’s deputy director of engineering. The demolition contract approved by the Town Board in June 2020 requires a consideration of options to salvage the timber frame of the oldest section of the structure to the extent possible.
In November 2020, the State Historic Preservation Office determined that it eligible, which makes the property eligible for State grant funds.
In September 2020, Lupinacci and Town Historian Robert Hughes secured 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, ran from Jan. 7 to Jan. 13.The Town awaits a report from the archaeologist with an analysis of the dig’s findings to determine 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.