Marion Carll Farm

TAKE ACTION: 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.

Write to the Commack Board of Education:
   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

 

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.

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 the developers of the surrounding community was recently halted after local residents adamantly opposed their proposed high-density townhouse development that included restoration of the farm buildings in exchange for a zoning variance. In response a new group, the Friends of the Marion Carll Community Farm in association with the Commack Community Association, has formed to lead the preservation of the site. To date however, the school district expresses intentions to sell the property, with no evident interest to partner with this group.

The fragility of ownership by public entities that do not have the resources to adequately care for bequeathed properties represents an increasing trend for many historic Long Island sites. The preservation of this property depends upon the formation of a supportive relationship between the friends and the school district, funding for immediate stabilization of the resources, the development of a feasibility study, and the implementation of its recommendations.

2017 STATUS: THREATENED
• 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.
• Despite Carll’s wishes that the farm be publicly accessible and used for education, the historic buildings remains vacant, neglected, and threatened by possible sale to a developer.

2014 STATUS:
• Threatened by demolition by neglect and school’s plan to sell the property for development despite bequest’s stipulation that it be used for educational purposes in farming. Complicated by impressive collection of household furnishings that make the house a time capsule.
• Heirs are suing to recover ownership, School District is half-hearted in defense and an ad hoc group has 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).