Down by the Bay

A piece of Patchogue history is right on Maiden Lane

Article by Genevieve Garruppo

Photography by Genevieve Garruppo

Originally published in Patchogue Lifestyle

In 1856 Patchogue was a very small town. With just under 2,500 residents one can picture only a few homes peppered along the shoreline and up and down the streets of Bay Avenue and South Ocean Avenue leading into town. It has always been a village fed greatly by the treasures of the water; even today you can find clamming boats out early each morning, or the distant sounds of a duck whistle followed by a faint gunshot over a wetland. And Bruce and Nancy Boerjes’s home on Maiden Lane happened to be one of the first; Bruce has reason to believe the house once served as a hunting lodge.

Standing prominently next to the new September 11th Memorial, the home was built in 1856 but very little exterior still remains from the original house. Looking at old plans from the land behind the Patchogue Pool, Bruce points to a rectangle near an outline of his home. “I believe it was made into a hunting lodge in 1908 because this was a five car garage and this house initially had a parlor stove in the corner and vents cut into the ceiling.” Nancy (Bruce’s wife) and their youngest son Patrick and I followed his hands around the home as he motioned to each corner explaining his understanding of the layout from yesteryear. “They would come from the city to hunt in the bay.” Looking back at the old plans, he noticed the names of the homes on the block (a lost art in my humble opinion). “They all had such strange names and who named them? I have no idea” Bruce said. He showed me their house- the “Sea Robin” and others closeby like the “Villa Royal” and across the street that simply went by “Dolphin”.  

They moved into the house in 1989 while remnants of Hurricane Hugo sent down several inches of rain. History has shown that coastal flooding would be a recurring headache for the family of five, but after Hurricane Sandy they raised up the structure, giving them a brand new garage and additional storage under the home. “We were lucky to have some saved funds and the use of the {NY Rising Housing} Recovery Program” Nancy explained as we took a tour of the underbelly of the home. A new project for Bruce sat in the sparkling garage- a chasse of a vintage pick-up truck. Bruce joked that it’s got a few more years until it parades down Main Street on the Fourth of July. 

Shortly after the move-in, they took on major renovations. Most homes built in the late 1800’s had additions over the years. The original house started just after the added garage, and ended just before the west sunroom (with the wood stove). When Nancy and Bruce renovated, Bruce came up with new plans of closing in the porch and adding a second story above it. The cedar shake siding was then used to cover the entire exterior. “We got a lot of our ideas from homes in Point O Woods” Bruce said. Most are New England style homes and each one is sheathed with the classic cedar shingle. A quick Google search will reveal the homes of Point o Woods and a tight resemblance of the Boerjes home. 

 The interior is just as majestic as the outside. Any additions and renovations they made were carefully crafted to match all original details of the house. For example, all of the dark wood panels on the walls were original in the living and dining rooms, but added later (and match perfectly) to the sunroom downstairs. The family’s design sense is in unison with the style of the house. They’ve incorporated furniture and artwork that was passed down from family or found in other homes on the block before they were renovated or knocked down. Most of the pops of color are lent by the foliage throughout the home. The south light that graces both downstairs and upstairs sunrooms create a perfect environment for houseplants to thrive. Nancy told us stories about the paintings that hung on the walls and the German beer steins on the original built-in cabinets, but perhaps the most exciting anecdote came from the large plants in the downstairs sunroom. Most commonly referred to as the ‘Queen of the Night’, this lush plant only flowers for a day or two every few years. Bruce added that he vacationed in Puerto Rico years ago and smuggled back a clipping in his suitcase. That small clipping generously gave them plant after plant, even blooming every few years.  

Mid Nineteenth century homes are no stranger to the Patchogue Streets, but it’s rare that you will find one so perfectly renovated like the Sea Robin of Maiden lane. And now that the house has been lifted and cared for, it will continue on for generations to come. 

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