Goodbye Newton's Garage

LAKE RONKONKOMA, NY ( / — Demolition is underway of a nearly 100-year-old Lake Ronkonkoma landmark gutted by a fierce, fast-moving fire.

The demolition began this week of the historic Newton’s Garage—known more recently as Sam Auto Repair—at the corner of Portion Road and Ronkonkoma Avenue.

The charred remains of the landmark building stood as a sad reminder for the past two months of the fire that tore through the building Nov. 7, 2019. The fire erupted in the early afternoon, a time when so many in the community could witness the beloved, well-recognized business at a busy intersection turn into ruin.

The garage dates back to 1923 as the area grew. Because of the building’s significance, the Town of Brookhaven designated it as a historic landmark. Sam Auto Repair kept local history alive by displaying the vintage Newton’s Garage sign.

As OnSachem reported Nov. 21, 2019, the “Newton’s Garage” sign—made up of individual letters—was to be saved for historic preservation. Somehow that sign along the facade survived, despite the intensity of the fire, fueled by vehicles catching on fire both inside and outside the repair shop.

During the first week of December, the letters were removed.

“We are in the process of cleaning the letters,” Evelyn Vollgraff, the president of the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society, told OnSachem yesterday.

Town of Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle’s Third District includes Newton's Garage. He has been in close contact with the business owner and the Ronkonkoma Historical Society since the fire. One of their priorities was to preserve what was possible of the landmark. The owner, Sam, agreed the sign could be saved.

LaValle told OnSachem last night that owner Sam is considering building a new garage on the property, but there are no specific plans or decisions made yet.

The demolition of the charred building may take several days, LaValle said.

Meanwhile, Vollgraff of the Historical Society reflects, “It is a great loss for our town as it was a very popular landmark.”


Prior Coverage from

Sign Saved! ‘Newton’s Garage’ Letters Removed for Preservation

Newton’s Garage Sign to be Saved, Building to be Demolished Soon

Fire Cause Determined

The community was devastated to witness a fast-moving fire destroy a nearly 100-year-old historic landmark nearly two weeks ago. Following that fire, OnSachem is pursuing answers to several questions. What sparked the fire, why did it spread so fast, and can the historic sign be saved?

Morning After the Fire

Video Report Shortly After the Fire: Interviews with Residents and the Fire Chief

First Report from the Scene

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