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Preservationists Hope To Move Historic Garden City House, Save It From Demolition

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A national treasure and piece of Long Island history is in danger of becoming a distant memory, and if you want it, you can have it -- for free.

But as CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, there is a big catch.

The Victorian gem in Garden City is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but that designation does not protect it from the wrecking ball.

"To lose this type of history to Garden City would be a shame," said Michael Raab of the Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development. "It is one of the Stewart homes."

A bust of A.T. Stewart stands across from the home, located steps away from the Garden City Long Island Rail Road station. Stewart is credited with creating the country's first planned community – Garden City on the Hempstead Plains.

Just 38 of his homes remain. The one on 6th Street was purchased for $1 million by New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk. He wanted the property, but not the historic house, and he offered to donate it to anyone who could pay the $200,000 to have it moved.

"It needs a lot of love and attention," said architect T.J. Costello.

Costello explained the house is functionally obsolete. The hockey player and his wife love the community, and hired him to build a modern Victorian home on the half-acre site to raise their children.

"Johnny is a great, great hockey player," Costello said. "They selected Garden City because it is so close – the train line is right there. He can get into the Barclays Center."

For months, there were no takers for the 133-year-old home. The Garden City Historical Society was devastated at the thought of losing it, and caught the attention of Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.

Mangano asked Raab to begin pulling together volunteers, and dozens came aboard to offer to donate their time and services.

"It is a heartwarming project to be able to help a potential veteran in need of housing," said Michael Pfeiffer of the Nassau County Habitat for Humanity.

If the plan works, expert volunteers will actually lift the house, put it on hydraulic flatbeds, and slowly roll it to Mitchell Field.

"Fingers crossed -- this will be a huge, huge logistical challenge," Raab said. "We cannot officially say this will be a fait accompli."

In order to move the house, local utilities would need to lift wires, the LIRR would have to stop trains and the county would have to adjust traffic lights – all in the middle of the night.

If the house cannot be saved or reborn in another way, it will be demolished.

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