Historic East End home to make way for mansion

Local preservationists want the 18th-century home moved and donated to the community

186 Crescent Avenue in Water Mill
186 Crescent Avenue in Water Mill

WEEKENDEDITION Debt collection mogul Andrew Zaro is poised to bulldoze a historic Water Mill farmhouse, built circa 1750, to make way for a $20 million mansion. But locals are fighting back.

Zaro, the chairman of Cavalry Portfolio Services, will likely receive a demolition permit for the house at 186 Crescent Avenue by the end of the month, despite public objections, according to the New York Post.

The two-story, 4,356-square-foot Caleb Halsey House was built by one of the earliest settlers of the East End community, and sits on 2.5 acres. Zaro plans to raze the wooden structure to make way for an 8,000-square-foot mansion, with a pool and tennis court. Zaro purchased the property for $13 million in 2012.

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Locals want Zaro to donate the house to the community and have it moved a quarter-mile back to its original home on the Halsey farmstead – it was moved to its current location in 1931.

“The last time I communicated with him, he was unreceptive to donating,” Sally Spanburgh, a preservationist who chairs the Southampton Town Landmarks & Historic Districts Board, told the Post. “It would be a true loss for the community.”

But Zaro told a different story: “Somebody had wanted to move it, and we were negotiating, but it fell through — I don’t know what happened,” Zaro told the Post. “What I don’t do is wake up in the morning saying I want to destroy an old house.”

He added that the house was damaged during Hurricane Sandy and is filled with dangerous black mold. [NYP]Christopher Cameron