Sep 01 2017

Hemmings Daily: Site of former Long Island Automotive Museum sells decades after it closed


Daniel Strohl of Hemmings Daily has reported that the site of the Long Island Automotive Museum in Southampton has been sold. Images in the article were courtesy of VanderbiltCupRaces.com.

Enjoy,

Howard Kroplick


Site of former Long Island Automotive Museum sells decades after it closed
 
Daniel Strohl on Aug 31st, 2017 at 8am

Images courtesy VanderbiltCupRaces.com.

For 37 years the quonset huts that made up the Long Island Automotive Museum, bereft of their four-wheeled inhabitants, steadily deteriorated into rusted, graffiti-covered, overgrowth-obscured relics among some of the priciest real estate this side of the East River. With the sale of the site this summer, however, the story of one of the country’s more significant auto museums finally came to a close.

When Henry Austin Clark, Jr. opened the museum in 1948 he did so more to store his burgeoning collection of antique cars and horseless carriages than to necessarily share it with others. Located on about 8 acres along County Road 39 in Southampton, on the far end of Long Island, it certainly didn’t have the flair of modern museums, but it was what resided inside that counted.

Early on, Clark tended to focus on thoroughbreds and other significant American cars of the early 20th Century. “My father amassed his collection in large part because widows wanted these hulks hauled out of their garages,” his son, Henry Austin “Hal” Clark III, told author Geoff Gehman. Hard to imagine that a Mercer Raceabout, any of a number of Vanderbilt Cup veterans, or the Thomas Flyer that won the New York-to-Paris race were ever considered dispensable, but Clark had a knack for uncovering and elevating significant cars at a time when most people just considered them old and worthless.

Later, Clark amassed a collection of fire trucks and hosted brass-era flea markets at the museum among other auto-centric events. Skip Norsic, whose family owns the property just north of the Long Island Automotive Museum’s, recalled going to those events and riding on the fire trucks as a kid in an interview with 27East.

Since 1980, when Clark closed the museum due to declining revenues – according to Gehman, he blamed the Town of Southampton for not allowing him to advertise the museum on area billboards – and sold off all the cars at auction, Norsic watched the museum crumble as property values in the area shot up into the seven- and eight-figure range. He reportedly tried to buy it a few times from the Clark family over the years, and the family even listed it for sale occasionally – most recently for $6.3 million earlier this year – but Norsic and the family weren’t able to agree on a price ($5.1 million) until this June.

While Norsic did buy the site under the aegis of Long Island Automobile Collectors LLC, thus fueling speculation that the site would once again host a museum, he told 27East that he simply plans to use the former museum property for storage for his waste hauling business. In that way at least it won’t become another subdevelopment; the site is zoned for half-acre residential and the site also had clearance for condo development.

Clark’s paper archives these days reside at The Henry Ford; his Mercer Raceabout sold for $2.5 million in 2014; and the Thomas Flyer, which resides at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, was added to the National Historic Vehicle Register last year.


Long Island Automotive Museum-January 3, 2017

As posted in January 3, 2017, the 8.3 acre property was originally being sold for $6.3 million.



Comments

Sep 02 2017 Mitch Hackett 11:05 PM

Another relic gone.  I remember the huts.  Sad.  Mitch

Sep 03 2017 Earl Gandel 12:53 AM

Thanks, Walter,
Along with everything else Austin did; he was a board member of Bridgehampton Road Races Corporation which acquired the land for and developed the Race Circuit in 1955-56.  In 1971, my group, Bridgehampton Racing Group, were given a lease by them to run the track, which we did until 1984. The “glory years” were in the ‘60’s, but a lot of people got their racing training and a lot of memories at “The Bridge” right up to the end in the ‘90’s.

Sep 03 2017 LMK 6:16 PM

Sad ...Yes it’s been said many times before, I know…

Sep 04 2017 S. Berliner, III 1:35 AM

Oh, my; that group shot at top was the ca. 1961 CCCA CAR-AVAN to the LIAM and the Bridgehampton track in August 1961 to which I’ve referred here on occasion.  I vas dere, Cholly!  The Duesy conv. second in in the second rank is Max Obie’s car shown that same day at the track at <http://sbiii.com/automot2.html#clasicar> (scroll down and then be sure to look in the background of the second shot!).  That’s the same car which went airborne, as related at <http://sbiii.com/automotv.html>  (scroll half-way down).  Sam, III

Sep 04 2017 S. Berliner, III 2:20 PM

Holy mackerel, Andy!  Look at the first car at the far left in the far row.  It’s my little 1961 Ford Anglia - my Jag wasn’t running and Austie let me onto the track to do a very-creditable lap with the oversquare engine barely laboring.  Somewhere, I have pix buried of the sad demise of that 5th Ave. bus in Farmingdale ca. 1980.  Sam, III

Sep 05 2017 Harry C. Reynolds 10:26 AM

Few auto enthusiasts accomplished more than Austie. The stories of the auto shows he organized in New York City are amazing.

                                  HR

Sep 05 2017 Arthur F Sintef II 6:11 PM

When I was young my father would take us to this museum from Plainview NY.. I loved looking at these great looking cars. My favorite ones were the Squad as & the old fire engine which we use to climb in the back & ride around the museum grounds..

Sep 12 2017 Tom 10:46 PM

Have mixed feelings about the museum, I have many auto postcards from the LIAM in my collection.

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