They’re a part of village history, but with the third track project that will come through Mineola in the near future, the Nassau Tower, the brick substation building and the south station house, which are currently active buildings near the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), are in jeopardy of being demolished. However, the Mineola Historical Society is determined to save them and have ideas of their own on how to preserve these buildings.
“There were always projects proposed [from the LIRR],” said Mineola Historical Society member Tom Redmond. “But this project, it’s the first time they’re ripping down the Nassau Tower and the brick substation. All the other proposals before that, the brick substation remained because it’s not even in the path of the third track. There’s a history of the society trying to purchase the Nassau Tower and move it and there were even plans provided by the LIRR of the tower being moved.”
The Nassau Tower, which was built in 1923, is eligible for state and national registers for historical places. In 1991, the Mineola Historical Society expressed interest in purchasing the tower to restore and move it to a suitable site within the village. According to the society, as seen in the village’s 2005 comprehensive master plan it is noted that the Nassau Tower should be moved out of the path of the third track and restored, which showed it being relocated on LIRR property south of its original location.
The brick substation, which was built in 1910 at the site of the village’s original LIRR station, is also eligible for state and national registers for historical places. The substation, which is not in the immediate path of the third track, was recently planned to be demolished in order for the LIRR to create a pick up and drop off area for the Mineola station.
The Mineola Historical Society has reached out to 3TC, who are the design-build contractors of the third track project and who’s stance is that the buildings are in fact coming down, to inform them about the historical value of the buildings.
“We’re trying to get an official response back from them and voice our concerns and tell them that there is a history here and why the Nassau Tower isn’t being moved, but being demolished,” said Redmond. “The brick substation we made a strong point that it’s historically eligible. Why would it be coming down for a kiss and drop, which is a pick up and drop off area for the station. There’s a yard in front of that so there’s space there to put a pick up and drop off area with the building remaining. I already have a design on how that can work. So we’re going to have more meetings with [3TC].”
The society is also hoping to catch the attention of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to further preserve the buildings.
Both the north and south station houses were built in 1923 and are focal points of the Mineola LIRR station. However, current plans have the south station house being demolished, but even if all three buildings are demolished, the historical society still wants to preserve its history in another way.
“Even if all three [buildings] do come down, we want to restore the historicalness of the station,” explained Redmond. “If we lose the Nassau Tower, we want something in place of that. If the brick substation comes down, we might reuse those bricks and for the south station house. We want a decorative shelter. East Williston has that done [with their shelter] and the columns on that were from the original station so we want do something like that. The overall goal is to minimize the historical loss of the station.”
The Mineola Historical Society is currently looking to expand its existing floor space as well and wants to use the brick substation as a visiting center for the downtown area, which would feature the society’s displays of LIRR, village and county seat history.
“It’d be designed where you can walk through it,” said Redmond. “It’s not like you’d need a ticket to go in there. It’d be a visiting center where it’s open and be part of the train station. It would all be paid for by the [third track] project. It’s their property, not ours. It wouldn’t be separate from the project. It would be a community benefit. It might be even cheaper for them to not knock the property down and preserve it.”
The Mineola Historical Society will be taking petitions from people of the community who want to support the minimizing of the historical loss of these buildings at the Mineola Street Fair on Sunday, Sept. 22 and at the society’s annual open house the following week on Sunday, Sept. 29 at the society’s headquarters at 211 Westbury Ave. The society is also considering opening its petition online at a later time.