Local voices matter once again! Thank you to all who joined in supporting the preservation of Belgrave Motors (aka Great Neck Tower Ford or Biener Audi), a historic place in the Village of Thomaston threatened by demolition. On February 8, 2022, the Village of Thomaston’s Preservation Commission voted 5-0 that the Tower Ford building meets the criteria for landmark status.

The Commission’s determination acknowledges that the building at 124 South Middle Neck Rd. meets the criteria of a “building or structure which embodies the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural specimen of construction” or which embodies economic or social history of the community, under the village’s landmark code.

Click HERE to read the Newsday article about the determination.

This most recent development is the result of previous public meetings including one held on January 4, 2022, where more than 100 members of the public participated. Every resident who spoke was in favor of granting the building landmark status.

Landmark designation does not prevent private owners from seeking reasonable economic benefit from their property. In fact, numerous studies show that landmarking helps protect property values from market volatility, promoting long-term stability and gradual growth of property values over time.

Belgrave Motors (aka Tower Ford or Biener Audi) at 124 S. Middle Neck Road, pictured above ca. 2021. Image courtesy of Newsday/William Perlman

Preservation Long Island supports designation of Belgrave Motors as a village landmark as defined by the Village Code (see [§ 120-2 Definitions]). Belgrave Motors reflects the rise of suburban lifestyles and spread of popular automobile culture on Long Island during the early 20th century. Remarkably, Belgrave Motors has housed an automobile business for nearly a century. The commercial structure was built around 1930 as part of the residential neighborhood of Belgrave Square, a planned community developed between the 1910s and 1930s. Tudor Revival-style materials and design, as well as poured-in-place reinforced concrete construction methods, are among the distinguishing characteristics of this worthy landmark and its surrounding neighborhood.

On October 29, 2021, the New York State Historic Preservation Office issued a determination that Belgrave Motors is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, noting that: “Many early buildings in the area used the Tudor Revival style, which was popular in new suburban developments in the region during the period. The automobile played an important role in facilitating suburban growth during this period. The use of the Tudor Revival style for the Belgrave Motors automobile showroom lent a sense of tradition and respectability to this modern form of transportation technology.”

Learn more about local history with these great resources:
History of the Village of Thomaston (1976) published by the Village of Thomaston
A History of Thomaston (1987) by Susan Hirschhorn, former Village of Thomaston Historian

Belgrave Motors pictured on a ca. 1960s postcard.