Sep 13 2012

SouthamptonPatch: “Fate of Former Long Island Auto Museum? [Empty in Southampton]”


The SouthamptonPatch has posted an article on the fate of the Long Island Automotive Museum. The article, comments to the post and my favorite Long Island Automotive Museum videos and images are presented below.

Enjoy,

Howard Kroplick


Fate of Former Long Island Auto Museum? [Empty in Southampton]

The Long Island Automotive Museum has been closed for more than three decades — how can new life be given to the abandoned building?

By Brendan J. O'Reilly

April 2, 2012

The site of the former Long Island Automotive Museum on Sebonac Road in Tuckahoe has become overgrown and rundown since closing in 1980, but the massive garage that housed early motor vehicles still stands in 2012.

Vanderbiltcupraces.com writes in a 2008 blog post that the museum was founded by automobile collector Henry Austin Clark Jr. in 1948. The blog continues:


The museum featured many unique cars including the Thomas Flyer car that won the 1908 Paris-New York Race. In the 1950s, the museum employed Joe Tracy, who participated in the 1904-1906 Vanderbilt Cup Races. Sadly, the museum closed its doors in 1980 and the collection was sold off.

Now, "no trespassing" signs are posted all over the main garage, and accessory buildings are covered in graffiti.

What would you like to see happen with the former Long Island Automotive Museum? Should it be revived? Should the building be repurposed? Should the garage be knocked down so a developer can start from scratch? Other ideas? Share you thoughts in a comment below.


Tom Edmonds 9:37 am on Monday, April 2, 2012

Looks like a great site for an art school or academy.
 

Robert C DiChiara 10:51 am on Monday, April 2, 2012

How about another automobile museum. There are so many old and exotic cars on the East end of LI there has to be a corresponding group of car enthusiasts.
 

Faustina 11:53 am on Monday, April 2, 2012

Wishful thinking above. This will form part of the "commercial hub" which is a password for zone changes in the Town's Planning Department. You can look for a lousy soda barracks or store there.
 

Diane Sadowski 3:27 pm on Monday, April 2, 2012

Most of us would love to see another auto museum! East end loves collector cars. And changes in the planning Department is not always a bad thing. Change is the future. Look at it as the glass half full.
 

Camlle 7:50 pm on Monday, April 2, 2012

Another auto museum!!
 

T.Gerard Burns 7:55 pm on Monday, April 2, 2012

Another auto museum. TGB III
 

Peggy Hones Morisen Monday, April 2, 2012

I agree! I knew Austie since I was 10 and went to his funeral. He'd like that.

james white 8:44 pm on Monday, April 2, 2012

I think a museum would be great as well as a place for car clubs to meet rally and hey why not a old school burger joint.as well as a place for youth club to work on a car racecar, go kart, or anything that has a engine or rolls and maybe mingle with some elders and learn some valuable lessons, Bring back a community that has left know who lives within a few miles of you i would donate some time to youth.
 

Peggy Hones Morisen 9:04 pm on Monday, April 2, 2012

I was 10 when I first got to know Austie Clark. He was a fellow rallyist and MG Car Club member. I think he would love to see his old museum restored. Many of us miss him. He was a terrific person and one of the most expert people on historic automobiles.
 

james white 9:28 pm on Monday, April 2, 2012

Austie Clark and Ernie Wilson were true car people and would help anyone with anything at anytime.Back then it was community not monetary

Preliator 8:25 am on Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Yes, just what you need, another worthless museum that no one will go to and suck money out the system. It would be cheaper and faster if you would just take the money you would waste and just burn, at least you can roast some marshmallows.
 

Brendan Byrne - The East End Broker10:09 am on Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Who owns the real estate now? Who determines the fate of the property?
 

Peconic Sunset 10:35 am on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why not use it to memorialize the Bridgehampton Racetrack? Thought to be one of the most challenging racetracks by the great drivers such as Mario Andretti, with its changes in elevation and overall layout. A great place. 

Peggy Hones Morisen 2:26 pm on Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Great idea! I learned to drive at "The Bridge." I remember well, people like Phil Hill and the Rodriguez brothers, Jackie Stewart, et al. I also had an interest in the track, but it was absorbed by Bob Rubin and many of us lost our shirts when it was sold. Memorializing the track is a good thing.


 

Opening day on August 1948

Henry Austin Clark, Jr. in a 1912 Moon

The Thomas Flyer- Winner of the 1908 New York to Paris Race

The museum in 1952

Henry Austin Clark, Jr. and Gary Cooper in 1965

At the 20th anniversary of the museum in 1968

Henry Austin Clark, Jr after the museum closed.



Comments

Sep 16 2012 Jan van der Baan 7:32 AM

The property still belonged to Austie’s relatives in the 90s. At that time there was an effort to revive the museum and they were willing to affect some form of land trade with the county to accomplish the deal. The buildings were savable at that point . I don’t know if they are still. There was a good bit of effort put forth back then but it needed more backing than I could afford and it died . I do believe there is more interest and ability now in this economy than there was then.

Sep 16 2012 Thomas Abbe 8:08 AM

It was Austin’s wish that the decaying museum buildings and grounds would stand as a monument to the maltreatment he received from the town of Southampton.

Sep 16 2012 Roger A. Price 8:38 AM

Every time I drive past the site of Austin Clark’s museum, I get a sad feeling.  I used to love visiting the place in the ‘60s.
It’s amazing that Long Island, with such a rich automotive history, doesn’t have a museum to celebrate that history.
Rog

Sep 16 2012 Phil Benincasa 10:42 AM

I’d like to see a museum, but understand that economics has a big part of it being successful. So maybe a multi-faceted venue might be an idea as someone else has suggested. Such as an auto restoration school, and a burger drive in with cruise & and car events to get the young people involved and away from their video games. Even a few scaled down auctions.
Something other than only the musem to draw people to the location.

Sep 16 2012 E. Nystrom 12:49 PM

The Thomas flyer is now a centerpiece of the Reno auto museum. Saw it there a couple of years ago.

Sep 16 2012 earl gandel 10:54 PM

We’re doing our best in Bridgehampton through the Bridgehampton Historical Society, with an annual rally and show (this year Oct. 6) commemorating racing on the streets, 1915-20, then 1949-53, and Bridgehampton Race Circuit 1956-(1990?) Austin Clark was an original member of the group that built the track, and there’s a BH Racing Heritage group focused on the track’s history that participates.  Everyone welcome, and give a nod to the museum when you drive by.

Sep 17 2012 Howard Kroplick 9:34 AM

From John Bayer:

My two cents for the former Auto Museum: See James and Phil’s comments. 
Connect with local chapters of car clubs.  A youth program, like the Model “A” chapters around the country do would be vital, as well as a restorations school on a smaller scale, like WyoTech or McPherson College in KS…Jay Leno sponsors that one, so maybe some NY celebs?  Seinfeld?  I’m not a local so don’t know all the background, but this could work…best of luck!

Regards,
John

Sep 17 2012 Pete G 2:20 PM

It is a shame that a venue like that falls by the wayside. The problem on LI is the exhorbitant property taxes that make so many ventures unprofitable.

As the creator and manager of the website Long Island Classic Cars.com, and, as an avid car enthusiast and collector, I can certainly attest to the strong involvement and appreciation of classic cars by the populace of LI.

There are literally tens of thousands of car-people and specialty vehicles on LI. The car shows, cruise nights and other events are packed every weeknight and weekend from April to October! “If you build it, they will come.” Would certainly apply.

I do not live near Southampton, about an hour and a half away with no traffic, so for me, to resurrect that site would not be an option. However, I have long dreamed of creating a multi-faceted institution that incorporates a showroom, sales facililty, restoration shop, education center, museum, car club gathering place, retail memorabilia shop, cafe, and a spot where the general public loves to come!

In PA, or any other state with open land, this is something that can be accomplished (and is) with a good chance of success. But how can we do it here on LI with property and business taxes that are so high that anyone thinking about undertaking such a venture would back off before even starting?

The starting capital and monthly sales volume to just cover the taxes would be daunting. Suggestions anyone?

Thank you for reading my opinion, and you can subscribe for FREE to our Newsletter.

Pete
http://www.liclassiccars.com

Sep 17 2012 Colleen Albertson 5:49 PM

I think that it should be made into a car museum againjust like it was before. If the building can’t be fixed then take it down and build a new one for the Auto Museum again on that site. I think it would be a great place to visit,andtake families to it to see all the old cars people colect and to learn about them and their history. The car museum could also host car shows even whre people who own thee fine old cars could come and meet and show of the oldcars they own to others.

Sep 19 2012 Andy Greenberg 12:04 AM

I wonder if Peggy Hones Morisen - or any others out there - knew my stepfather
J. Bruce Stevenson?  He was a racer, MG Car Club member and active in the road races.

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