In 2019, the recalcitrant former owner of the marina property sold it to Angelo Costanza of Blue Marlins Boats. With support from the American Venice Civic Association, Mary Cascone (Babylon Town Historian), and Preservation Long Island, Mr. Costanza is exploring potential options, such as an easement, to preserve the site’s signature winged-lion columns. We are excited to be part of this important conversation with the new owner of this unique historic place on the Great South Bay.
Created in the mid-1920s to serve as the waterside recreational center of a Venetian-themed planned community located on the Great South Bay, the American Venice Administration Plaza and Laguna San Marco complex represent the ambitious scope of suburban Long Island development before the Great Depression. A romantic interpretation of White City ideals applied to a residential community, the complex is comprised of a man-made lagoon and island (which once housed a gazebo), two administration buildings (currently encapsulated as one under a 1960’s addition), and two winged-lion columns. Currently used as a commercial marina, the complex, along with its residential neighborhoods, was designated a local historic district by the Town of Babylon in 2007. Despite the outward appearance of compromised historic integrity, it is believed that many architectural details remain hidden under exterior surfaces. What remains of the complex is in critical condition and is threatened by continued exposure and decline. The Town has made explicit efforts to purchase the property from the current owner in order to reestablish the site “as a cultural and economic asset to the community.” Thus far, these offers have been declined, preventing the realization of an extensive restoration and revitalization plan. The deterioration and ultimate loss of this carefully planned large-scale resource will contribute to a diminished understanding and appreciation of early twentieth-century residential developments on Long Island, and a lost opportunity for the complex to serve as a refined historic public attraction.
Want to learn more about American Venice? See “Gondolas in Copiague: Victor Pisani, Isaac Meister, and the Creation of American Venice, 1925–1929” by Mary Cascone, in the 2015 Preservation Long Island publication, Gardens of Eden: Long island’s Early Twentieth-Century Planned Communities, pages 228–239.