Attention East Hills residents! Join us in supporting the preservation of John Mackay III’s “Happy House” at 2a Melby Lane, East Hills, NY. If you live in the Village of East Hills, please contact your local elected officials to let them know you support comprehensive local planning and project review to protect this property from demolition.
Why is “Happy House” historically significant?
This Tudor Revival-style house was built in 1929 for John W. Mackay III (1907–1988), the son of telecommunications mogul Clarence Mackay (1874–1938) and the grandson of John Mackay (1831–1902), who discovered the Nevada Comstock Lode in 1873. The house was designed by John W. Cross of the renowned New York City-based architecture firm Cross and Cross.
With strong ties to the influential Mackay family and their Gilded Age estates, “Happy House” represents an extraordinary piece of local, regional, and national history. This site was determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.
Why is Happy House endangered?
This site is threatened by demolition and intensive redevelopment. Recently, a proposal to demolish “Happy House” and build a new four-lot subdivision was denied by East Hills Village Planning Board in January 2021. Instead of the proposed demolition, the Planning Board recommended a two- or three-lot alternative site plan to preserve the historic house and minimize other adverse environmental impacts. These recommendations were based upon clear findings of adverse impacts identified by an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) mandated by New York State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR). However, future proposals for demolition and/or intensive redevelopment remain a possibility for this and other historic properties within the village.
How can Happy House be preserved?
Preservation Long Island joins our local partners at the Roslyn Landmark Society in advocating for the following actions to preserve this site and others facing similar threats:
• Support local decision-makers in East Hills and across Long Island in considering alternatives to intensive redevelopment that minimize adverse impacts on historic resources in our communities.
• Increase public participation in local processes of review, especially for applications involving subdivision, demolition, and intensive redevelopment.
• Better educate the public about SEQR. We note many people are not aware that historic and cultural resources are defined as part of the environment under SEQR: “‘Environment’ means the physical conditions that will be affected by a proposed action, including land, air, water, minerals, flora, fauna, noise, resources of agricultural, archeological, historic or aesthetic significance, existing patterns of population concentration, distribution or growth, existing community or neighborhood character, and human health.” (see 6 NYCRR Part 617.2 Definitions)
• Adopt a local historic preservation ordinance in the Village of East Hills to protect historic resources from further destruction.
Preservation Long Island’s Endangered Historic Places Program is made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.