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Here's How Trump's Boyhood Home Could Become Historic Landmark: Experts

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | January 11, 2017 5:08pm | Updated on January 17, 2017 10:20am
 Persident-elect Donald Trump lived at this house at 85-15 Wareham Place as a boy.
Persident-elect Donald Trump lived at this house at 85-15 Wareham Place as a boy.
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Paul Brainard

As President-elect Donald Trump’s boyhood home in Queens heads to auction Tuesday afternoon, some experts say the five-bedroom home might one day become an official historic site. 

Trump lived in the Tudor home at 85-15 Wareham Place in Jamaica Estates until he was 4, which could make the property eligible for designation as a National Historic Landmark — a significant place in America’s history. 

“Is it possible? The answer is clearly yes, it is possible,” said Bob Singleton, executive director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society.

Singleton added that there's precedent for the designation as the boyhood homes of most U.S. presidents have been “recognized either as a national monument or as a local historic place.”

Real estate experts say it’s hard to estimate the current value of the property, which was purchased for $1,390,500 on Dec. 21 by Manhattan real estate mogul Michael Davis with the intention of flipping it at the auction scheduled for Jan. 17, according Misha Haghani, owner of Paramount Realty USA, which is handling the auction.

“This unique property, which is like art because it has value that goes beyond just real estate, is finally going to be sold in an auction context which is the right context for selling unique property like this,” Haghani told DNAinfo New York in December. "There are only 45 childhood homes of U.S. presidents."

Singleton agreed that "whether you agree with [Trump's] politics or not, that could be a very lucrative thing."

He also noted that if the house becomes a National Historic Landmark, it could be turned into a museum.

“The problem here is that Trump has lived in different places,” he said — the Trump family later moved to a larger house on nearby Midland Parkway, before moving to Manhattan — but other presidents moved several times in their lifetime as well, Singleton said.

For example in the case of Abraham Lincoln, both his boyhood home in Indiana and the home that he later owned in Illinois have been made as National Historic Landmarks, while his birthplace in Kentucky has become as a National Historical Park, a designation that "applies to historic parks that extend beyond single properties or buildings," according to the National Park Service, which administers the programs.

Although there are dozens of landmarks designated by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, there are only four National Historic Landmarks in Queens

The Louis Armstrong House in Corona, where the musician lived for 28 years
• The home of Ralph Johnson Bunche, an African-American diplomat and winner of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize, in Kew Gardens
• King Manor in downtown Jamaica, home of Rufus King, a signer of the Constitution and U.S. Senator
• The Old Quaker Meeting House in Flushing, which has been used as a house of worship for over 300 years

In an email, National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum said the agency is “not aware of any efforts to make the property [at 85-15 Wareham Place] a National Historic Landmark (NHL) at this time.”

Barnum also wrote that a historic site may be designated a National Historic Landmark if it:

• Is the location most strongly associated with a turning point or significant event in American history.
• Is the best location to tell the story of a significant individual in U.S. history.
• Is an exceptional representation of a particular building or engineering method, technique, or building type.
• Is archeologically significant enough to yield new and innovative information about the past.

According to Barnum, the nomination process consists of a number of steps, including:

• A letter of inquiry to the National Historic Landmarks Program from a State Historic Preservation Officer, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Federal Preservation Officer, scholar, private owner or interested member of the public.
• A review of the letter by NHL staff to determine the site meet criteria.
• A review of the nomination by subject matter experts and scholars.
• A review of the nomination by the Landmarks Committee to determine whether to recommend the site to the National Park System Advisory Board.
• A review of the nomination by the National Park System Advisory Board to determine whether to recommend the site to the Secretary of the Interior.
• A decision by the Secretary of the Interior whether to designate the property as a National Historic Landmark.

For more information on National Historic Landmarks go here.