Fate of Former Long Island Auto Museum? [Empty in Southampton]

The Long Island Automotive Museum has been closed for more than three decades — how can new life be given to the abandoned building?

The site of the former Long Island Automotive Museum on Sebonac Road in Tuckahoe has become overgrown and rundown since closing in 1980, but the massive garage that housed early motor vehicles still stands in 2012.

Vanderbiltcupraces.com writes in a 2008 blog post that the museum was founded by automobile collector Henry Austin Clark Jr. in 1948. The blog continues:

The museum featured many unique cars including the Thomas Flyer car that won the 1908 Paris-New York Race. In the 1950s, the museum employed Joe Tracy, who participated in the 1904-1906 Vanderbilt Cup Races. Sadly, the museum closed its doors in 1980 and the collection was sold off. 

Now, "no trespassing" signs are posted all over the main garage, and accessory buildings are covered in graffiti.

What would you like to see happen with the former Long Island Automotive Museum? Should it be revived? Should the building be repurposed? Should the garage be knocked down so a developer can start from scratch? Other ideas? Share you thoughts in a comment below.

Tom Edmonds April 02, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Looks like a great site for an art school or academy.
Robert C DiChiara April 02, 2012 at 02:51 PM
How about another automobile museum. There are so many old and exotic cars on the East end of LI there has to be a corresponding group of car enthusiasts.
Faustina April 02, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Wishful thinking above. This will form part of the "commercial hub" which is a password for zone changes in the Town's Planning Department. You can look for a lousy soda barracks or store there.
Diane Sadowski April 02, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Most of us would love to see another auto museum! East end loves collector cars. And changes in the planning Department is not always a bad thing. Change is the future. Look at it as the glass half full.
Candyee April 02, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Another auto museum!!
T.Gerard Burns April 02, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Another auto museum. TGB III
james white April 03, 2012 at 12:44 AM
I think a museum would be great as well as a place for car clubs to meet rally and hey why not a old school burger joint.as well as a place for youth club to work on a car racecar, go kart, or anything that has a engine or rolls and maybe mingle with some elders and learn some valuable lessons, Bring back a community that has left know who lives within a few miles of you i would donate some time to youth.
Peggy Hones Morisen April 03, 2012 at 01:02 AM
I agree! I knew Austie since I was 10 and went to his funeral. He'd like that.
Peggy Hones Morisen April 03, 2012 at 01:04 AM
I was 10 when I first got to know Austie Clark. He was a fellow rallyist and MG Car Club member. I think he would love to see his old museum restored. Many of us miss him. He was a terrific person and one of the most expert people on historic automobiles.
james white April 03, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Austie Clark and Ernie Wilson were true car people and would help anyone with anything at anytime.Back then it was community not monetary
Preliator April 03, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Yes, just what you need, another worthless museum that no one will go to and suck money out the system. It would be cheaper and faster if you would just take the money you would waste and just burn, at least you can roast some marshmallows.
Brendan Byrne - The East End Broker April 03, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Who owns the real estate now? Who determines the fate of the property?
Peconic Sunset April 04, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Why not use it to memorialize the Bridgehampton Racetrack? Thought to be one of the most challenging racetracks by the great drivers such as Mario Andretti, with its changes in elevation and overall layout. A great place!
Peggy Hones Morisen April 04, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Great idea! I learned to drive at "The Bridge." I remember well, people like Phil Hill and the Rodriguez brothers, Jackie Stewart, et al. I also had an interest in the track, but it was absorbed by Bob Rubin and many of us lost our shirts when it was sold. Memorializing the track is a good thing.
James Spina September 16, 2012 at 02:18 PM
My dad took me to the museum on the late 50s. It was the longest trip my family ever took in our overheating 52 Ford! The museum was a total wonder experience. I Bugatti racer was in the middle of a get-it-running restoration. Mr. Clark was totally encouraging about my fascination with all the vehicles on display. I still have the postcards from the gift shop and two plastic models of Indy racers, the Maserati and the Gilmore Special! On of the postcards is featured right on this blog spot and the other shows a curve from the Bridgehampton race track. Everytime I pass the site now on our way to Montauk I always am tempted to stop and sneak around. I hope some aspect of its heritage is preserved. The sentiments of "Preliator" above are particularly jarring.
Jeff Rogers September 20, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Li is losing everything that made it what it is
Steven brown September 23, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Great idea.
Jane Palmer October 03, 2012 at 01:27 PM
How about a museum, and a school to teach kids, ( and adults) to work on and appreciate classic cars?
Tony G January 01, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Museum you want? OK, great. Lets look at the numbers first. The Clarke family still owns the property and as of about 3 years ago was for sale for about 4Million. 7 acres. Say we build a new 10,000 sq. foot building to house the cars (that are not yet purchased) for a total cost of say 7 million, all in. how much do we charge at the door?Remember, that interest alone on 7 mil@ even 6% is $420,000/year, or about $1,150 per day, or about $35,000 per month month. We still need to pay for insurances, taxes, salaries, utilities, etc. My guess is that we'll need to charge about $50 per head to break even, assuming 150,000 visitors stop in. And wait, there are no cars here yet. Add another $50 to that figure if we want some nice cars. Who here will pay $100 to visit the museum each time. Hey, its only $500 for a family of 5, not too bad. Moral of this story is it is not financially feasible and no investor would put their money here, simple as that, sorry to say, but that's the way it works. Unless we ask our government to pay for it. The have plenty of extra cash these days.
Patrice Dalton January 01, 2013 at 05:30 PM
I think a museum focused on the automobile and the racing heritage of Bridgehampton is a super idea. There seems to be interest based on this string of comments. As far as the financials, we need to understand how groups like the Parrish Art Museum make things work. Maybe we are missing some key assumptions, that would allow a reasonable admission charge.
Tony G January 02, 2013 at 02:41 AM
Patrice, I'm with you. It would be great to see such a museum. All museums survive mostly by huge benefactors and endowments, not by admission fees. Rumor has it the Parrish cost in the vicinity of $25 Million, most or all of which was raised by the museum via fundraising events and by having 100 years worth of supporters and benefactors to foot the bill. And what a great museum it is!! It would be a tough sell to pretty much anyone to raise the funds needed to put together an automobile museum today, sorry to say. Austin Clarke was a collector and he assembled this himself many years ago, a feat unlikely to be repeated. The property is about 7 acres if I recall, and it is zoned for both highway business and residential, so that in itself creates an interesting puzzle. With the current highway situation and zoning, the only way to exit the property is to go north on Sandy Hollow Road, which creates more problems as to how to access the property successfully. There is no more CR #39 access for entering/exiting the site. Only north on SHR . A combination of Highway business/ residential use is what the Town Zoning allows at this point, so it might be a tricky sell to just about anyone. So there you have it. The good old days are gone for good. At least on this site......... Thats my 2 cents anyway! Happy New Year!


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