The small house that was Maurice Wertheim’s hunting cabin and the original headquarters building for the Long Island Refuge Complex has been demolished. The Refuge put together this FAQ to explain why, prior to the demolition:
• What is the current status of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin?
Prior to the new Headquarters building opening in 2012, refuge staff used the Wertheim Hunt Cabin as the base of operations for the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Following the opening of the new building, the cabin has fallen into a state of disrepair and has become a frequent target of vandalism. The Wertheim Hunt Cabin is currently scheduled for demolition on Monday, January 10th. The refuge is already closed on this date for the shotgun hunt.
• Why does the Wertheim Hunt Cabin need to be demolished?
Because the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is primarily a wildlife and habitat management agency, any new construction on Service property must be offset with the demolition of other structures. In exchange for the new Headquarters building, refuge management offered up several structures for demolition: the quarters building along the west side of the Carmans, the old maintenance building/shed and the Wertheim Hunt Cabin.
• Did refuge staff consider any alternatives to demolition of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin?
Refuge management approached several conservation organizations in the vicinity of the refuge to inquire whether or not they wanted to take possession of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin and remove it from the property. Unfortunately, none of these organizations had the interest and/or means to remove the cabin and secure its preservation.
• Has the refuge performed any historical analysis of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin?
Yes. In April of 2021, historic preservation consultant Paula Sagerman performed a comprehensive analysis of the history of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin. Although still in draft form and not yet released to the public, this analysis includes a construction chronology of the structure and a retrospective of Maurice Wertheim’s life and accomplishments.
• What are the future plans for the Wertheim Hunt Cabin site?
In the spirit of the Wertheim legacy, refuge staff hope to repurpose the site into an outdoor educational pavilion and overlook. Opportunities for refuge visitor infrastructure along the Carmans are very limited due to the prevalence of indigenous artifacts; but since the Wertheim Hunt Cabin footprint is already disturbed ground, refuge staff can more easily create opportunity. Any new construction will include an interpretive display on the importance of the site and the Wertheim legacy. The pavilion and overlook will provide structure for the thousands of school children who visit the refuge annually. Maurice Wertheim’s legacy and love for the outdoors will be imparted upon each and every child who enjoys the new structure.