Marion Carll Farm

 

The Marion Carll Farmstead in Commack is a time capsule of Long Island rural life spanning the late nineteenth into the early twentieth centuries. Located upon a nine-acre site surrounded by a residential golf community, it contains an 1860 farmhouse, several outbuildings and an impressive collection of Carll family artifacts. Marion Carll gifted the property in 1968 to the Commack School District under terms that it would be used for historical educational purposes. Such programming was offered by the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) until 1992, but since then the building has been vacant and deteriorating.

The buildings and historical contents are under imminent threat due to environmental exposure and general long-term neglect. A preliminary sales agreement between the school district and private developers was halted in 2011 after local residents adamantly opposed a proposal to restore the farm buildings in exchange for a zoning variance to build high-density townhouses adjacent to the site. In response, the Friends of the Marion Carll Community Farm was formed in association with the Commack Community Association to lead the preservation of the site. To date however, the school district has been reluctant to partner with this group or any other to create an effective stewardship plan.

Ownership by public entities that do not have the resources or capacity to adequately care for bequeathed properties is a problem faced by many historic places on Long Island. The preservation the Marion Carll Farmstead depends upon the formation of a supportive relationship between viable community partners and the school district. Successful preservation will also require funding for immediate stabilization of historic structures, the completion of a feasibility study for reuse, and the implementation of such recommendations.

2014 STATUS:
• Threatened by demolition and neglect, and by the school’s plan to sell the property for development despite Marion Carll’s bequest, which stipulates the property be used for educational purposes in farming.
• Heirs launched a lawsuit to recover ownership. The school district and an ad hoc group made a legal motion to intervene hoping to enforce public ownership and take on repurposing the site in accordance with original terms of the covenant (farm-themed education and public access).

2017 STATUS: THREATENED
• July-September 2017: The Marion Carll Property Committee is established to assist the Commack Board of Education in implementing solutions and sustainability plans for the property.
• January 2017: New York State Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of Commack Public School District’s continued ownership of the Marion Carll Farm. According to Newsday, the judge’s decision noted that New York State’s property law required Carll’s heirs to take appropriate legal action within 30 years of when the District took possession of the property.

ACTION ALERT: 
If you reside within the Commack School District, contact your Board of Education and ask them to honor Marion Carll’s generous gift and revive her historic farm in the service of education within your community.

   District Clerk
   Commack Union Free School District
   P.O. Box 150
   Commack, NY 11725
Call the Commack Board of Education: (631) 912-2055
Email the Commack Board of Education: boe@commack.k12.ny.us