Historic Van Nostrand Starkins House under restoration in Roslyn

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The Van Nostrand Starkins House dates back to the 1680s. (Photo courtesy of John Santos)

The Village of Roslyn owns one of the oldest buildings in Nassau County, a reddish, two-story house off Roslyn Road built around 1680.

It used to welcome visitors on the weekends, but left unrestored in recent years, the Van Nostrand Starkins House fell into disrepair. When the Roslyn Landmark Society sent out a call for bids for a repair project, they came back upwards of $37,000, said society Vice President John Santos.

That’s when Santos, who owns Island Contracting, offered to have his company repair it for free.

Now, he’s having three to four people work on it six days a week and anticipates the building will be fully repaired by the end of August.

“It was really starting to fall apart,” Santos said. “It used to be open as a museum on the weekends … and that hasn’t happened in quite a while because of the disrepair.”

Though the home was built around 1680, the earliest record the Roslyn Landmark Society has is the 1790 U.S. census, which listed William Van Nostrand as the head of the home.

Joseph Starkins, a blacksmith, and his wife, Ann Elizabeth, purchased the land in 1795, according to the society. His son sold it in 1847 and two years later it was sold again to Jacob M. Kirby, who was purchasing the land surrounding Main Street, according to the Roslyn Landmark Society.

The home was passed down within the Kirby family throughout the 1800s, eventually being sold in 1937 and again in 1945. The Village of Roslyn has owned the property since 1966, and the Roslyn Landmark Society restored it between 1973 and 1977.

The latest restoration project began weeks ago and should last about 60 days, Santos said.

Work will include addressing issues with the roof, rotting wood and broken glass. The whole building will be repainted, Santos said.

As a museum, the five-room building was furnished with period pieces and included displays of architectural artifacts from Roslyn, such as wallpaper samples and wooden fences, Santos said. It was free to the public and run by the Roslyn Landmark Society and will reopen once the restoration is complete.

Santos lives just down the road from the Van Nostrand Starkins House in a historic home. 

“I’m most excited about opening to the public and having the younger generation being able to enjoy it and have an understanding of what Roslyn is really about,” Santos said. “It’s a walking museum in a sense. You can really step back in time.”

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