Homan-Gerard House Restoration

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 Yaphank, NY- July 17,2012 - County Executive Steve Bellone held a press conference today at the scene of the latest Suffolk County Historic Building Restoration Project. Among those also present were Suffolk Legislator Kate Browning, Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert, and representatives from Suffolk County's Department of Parks and Department of Public Works, The Yaphank Historical Society, The Mancini Architecture Firm, and Long Island General Builders Laborers Local 66 ...

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 Yaphank, NY- July 17,2012 - Yaphank Historical Society has announced the launch of the restoration of the Homan-Gerard House in Yaphank's Historic District in partnership with Suffolk County Department of Parks Historic Services.
   It is now the county's number one priority on their list of saving and restoring endangered buildings as it is on The National Register of Historic Buildings and has been derelict due to lack of funding since the 1960's. The stabilization of the foundation and securing the site are in progress so that the restoration of the exterior and interior can begin. This strategy follows in the tradition of past joint efforts in restoring the Hawkins House and the Mary L. Booth House. The focus will now be on local fundraising and grant applications to support these restoration efforts in saving this unique and early example of Federal architecture and an integral part ofthe history and culture of Yaphank.
   The Homan-Gerard House was first noted in Brookhaven Town Records in 1762, when the sawmill was built there adjacent to the house on the river. Daniel Homan Jr. rebuilt the house in the Federal style in 1790 and ownership was transferred over the years to the Homan, Hawkins and Gerard families. When the mills became obsolete, the house was used as a boarding house for summer visitors who came to Yaphank to enjoy swimming, fishing and boating on the millponds, still the center of life in the community today.


Watch for continued updates in the Newsletter and on this website. The Society is working closely with the Suffolk County Parks Department on this restoration project. We believe the community and all visitors to the Yaphank Historical District will benefit from this addition to the area..."

>>>>>>>>   July 2012; Homan-Gerard Project UPDATE


The Homan-Gerard House stands on Yaphank Avenue diagonally across the street from the Robert Hewlett Hawkins House. It is owned by Suffolk County and is part of the Suffolk County Historic Trust. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places. The Yaphank Historical Society and Suffolk County Historic Services have begun restoration of the Homan-Gerard House.

The first mention of the Homan House is in Brookhaven Town Records in 1762, when John Homan is granted permission to build a sawmill south of his house on the Connecticut River. In all probability, the Homan House of today stands where that original 1762 house stood and shares a part of that earlier house's stone foundation. John Homan died later that year and his will ensures his widow one room in the house, a bedstead, firewood, use of a milking cow and sufficient quantities of sugar, pork, beef and corn. The sawmill is left to his son Daniel Homan who soon expands operations with the addition of a gristmill and a bolting mill. Grist and sawmills were vital to the local economy making Daniel Homan a wealthy man. It was Daniel Homan who built or rebuilt the Homan House in the federal style in 1790.

Daniel Homan Jr. took over the mill after his father's death and ran the mills until 1821. With Daniel Homan Jr.'s death in 1821, the house and the mills parted company. The mills were sold to Robert Hawkins, a wealthy landowner and farmer, for 5,000 dollars. The Hom House was not included in the sale. Daniel Homan, Jr.'s sister Deborah Homan Buckingham and her husband Jonas kept the house. The Homan Family Burial ground is just north of the Homan House. Many Homans are buried there. Because Deborah Homan Buckingham and Jonas lived in the house, the cemetery became known as the Buckingham Cemetery.

Back at the mill, Robert Hawkins brought his young nephew Robert Hawkins Gerard into his family and taught him the trade. Hawkins Gerard, as the young man was known, inherited the mills upon his uncle's death and tore down the old gristmill and replaced it with a larger, finer mill. When Hawkins Gerard's brother is lost at sea, Hawkins Gerard takes in his nephew Edward L. Gerard and teaches him the family business. E.L. Gerard opened a lumberyard at the mill. He later inherits the mills and marries Agnes Cook. It is around this time that the Homan House passes to E.L. Gerard. There is no clear documentation as to when this actually happened, but the Homan House and the Yaphank Mills are together once again by 1873.

E.L. Gerard and Agnes raise four children in the Homan-Gerard House. Fanny, Robert, Catherine and Charles. Only Catherine and Charles survive to adulthood. E. L. Gerard is a popular businessman, and beloved in the village for his gentle ways. While he and Agnes live in the house, a back addition is constructed along with a Victorian porch on the south side of the house. When Edward dies in 1899, Agnes continues to run the Yaphank Mills on her own. She also rents rooms to summer visitors from the city. She advertises in the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper that her millpond offers swimming, fishing and boating.

Mills run by water wheels are becoming obsolete and by 1915, Agnes is having financial difficulties. She is unsuccessful in mortgaging the property. In 1919 the Yaphank Mills burn. A new smaller sawmill is built on the site, but it is unsuccessful. In 1922, the Homan-Gerard House and mill property are sold to Anson W. Hard at public auction for 7,000 dollars. For a short while the Homan-Gerard House is used as a gamekeeper's cottage, but it is eventually allowed to remain vacant. Kenneth Hard inherits the property and uses it as a gun club. In 1963, he sells it to Suffolk County to become Southaven Park. The Homan-Gerard House has remained empty all of these many years. It remains a sentinel of the past. In the next few years of restoration, we can watch this lovely house revert back to the lovely home that it once was.

--- Karen Mouzakes