What do you know about Great River?

There are so many Great Rivers but this one is Great River in Suffolk County, NY.

Great River

Great River is a hamlet in the Town of Islip in Suffolk County in Long Island. It is situated approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of New York City on the South Shore of Long Island adjoining the Great South Bay, a body of water protected from the Atlantic Ocean by one of the outer barrier islands, the Fire Island. Great River’s name derives from Connetquot, an Algonguian word for Great River. It was home to many wealthy families. For centuries, the Algonguin people inhabited Long Island. A sub-division of the Algonquins known as the Secatogue tribe occupied all of the area in what is now the town of Islip. Their principal villages were at West Islip (Secatogue), Bay Shore (Penataquit), and Oakdale (Connetquot).

Great River hamlet was formerly known as Youngsport. In the 1840s the Youngs family lived about one and a half miles south of Montauk Highway on Great River Road. Erastus Youngs and his family began building and repairing boats on the west shore of the Connetquot River near Great South Bay. With hardly anyone else around (21 houses), the place was called Youngsport for 30 years. Youngsport had one store and a freight station on the South Side Railroad of Long Island two miles north of it. The inhabitants were principally known as bay men. Alva Vanderbilt (later Alva Belmont), the Oakdale socialite suffragette, bought the Youngs’ home and gave it to Trinity Lutheran Parish of Brooklyn, which used it as a summer camp called “Seaside Camp” for city children. Youngsport Village’s name was changed to Great River in either 1870 or 1881. William Lawrence Breeze purchased 290-acre (120 ha) “Timber Point Farm” from William Nicoll in 1883.

Timber Point Country Club by golfadvisor.com

Timber Point Country Club – Photo by GolfAdvisor.com

 

During the Depression, my husband’s uncle, Henry Morgan, became president of Timber Point Country Club. The first thing he did was declaring that “There was no point for Timber Point”. People had no money and so he closed the club. Later on, it became a public country club. Henry Morgan tried to lure some big names to play golf there but since the golf course was one of the toughest golf courses in the country, they could not get the big names to come because it would affect their handicaps.

Timber Point Golf Club by Instagram

 

One particular state park in Great River is the Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park (690 acres ) which was originally part of the former Bayard Cutting Estate of 7,500 acres with 12 outbuildings.

Bayard Cutting by Flickr

The estate of William Bayard Cutting (1850–1912) donated it as an arboretum to the State of New York by Cutting’s widow and daughter, Mrs. Olivia James, “to provide an oasis of beauty and quiet for the pleasure, rest and refreshment of those who delight in outdoor beauty; and to bring about a greater appreciation and understanding of the value and importance of informal planting.”

bayard by yelp 5

Bayard Cutting Arboretum Manor House – Photo by Yelp.com

 

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park consists of a notable large Tudor-style English country house called “Westbrook” and its surrounding landscaped gardens overlooking a great lawn rolling down to the Connetquot River. The house was designed by architect Charles C. Haight in 1886 for William Bayard Cutting, who was an attorney, financier, real estate developer, sugar beet refiner and philanthropist. Located in the former Cutting residence are magnificent fireplaces, woodworkings, and stained glass windows.

 

Bayard by Yelp.com

The Formal Garden – Photo by Yelp.com

Bayard by yelp.com 2

Autumn Scene – Photo by Yelp.com

An annex to the mansion was built in 1890 and contained a billiards room, a small organ, a gaming room and guest rooms. The landscape design was done by Frederick Law Olmsted, popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. Olmsted was famous for co-designing many well-known urban parks with his senior partner Calvert Vaux, including Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City. In 1895 Cutting and his brother, Fulton, installed a golf course at Westbrook, which was the first private golf course in the United States.

 

References:

Hometown Long Island by Newsday and Along the Great South Bay by Harry W. Havemeyer.

 

Until next time. Let’s keep on exploring Long Island.

Rosalinda

 

 

 

ROTHMANN’S STEAKHOUSE – EAST NORWICH, NY LANDMARK

Rothmann Restaurant

 

 

Rothmann’s Restaurant is a famous landmark in the small town of East Norwich, NY located at the corner of Route 106 and Route 25A. It was originally established in 1907 by the Rothman family of Oyster Bay, NY.

 

However, its long history went back to 1851 when it was built by Andrew C. Hegeman and called East Norwich Hotel. The East Norwich post office was located there at one time, then it became the Town of Oyster Bay meeting place.

 

After the Civil War, the hotel was sold to Halstead Frost and Richard Downing who renamed it the Osceola Hotel. In 1887, they sold the hotel to Henry Acker who changed the name back to East Norwich Hotel. In 1891, it was sold to James Hurrell of Brooklyn and changed the name to Hurrell House. In 1897 Hurrell returned to Brooklyn and sold it to John Nurnberg and changed the name back again to East Norwich Hotel. Nurnberg operated the hotel till March 1906 when he sold it to Peter Hoffman. Hoffman sold it to Charles Rothmann in August 1907.

 

Charles and Franziska Rothmann invested their life saving and opened Rothmann’s Restaurant in East Norwich with Franziska doing all the cooking. They lived on the second floor with their six children. After the first World War, the three oldest boys, Charles Jr, Paul and Peter joined the business and continued the tradition of serving fine food and drink in a setting that was both comfortable yet felt pampered. Their reputation spread beyond East Norwich and celebrities were seen dining there. They attracted a loyal following of notable politicians and well-heeled socialites. Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president used to dine there when he was in town.

East Norwich Inn by TripAdvisor.com

Photo Credit: TripAdvisor.com

 

After the three boys passed away, the wife of Peter together with the nieces took over. The Rothmann’s family owned the place till 1970 when they sold it to Burt Bacharach, the singer, and his wife, actress Angie Dickinson who began running the inn. They built East Norwich Inn, the only hotel in town that sits behind Rothmann’s Restaurant. There were plans to open a small shopping mall behind Rothmann’s and close the East Norwich Inn. Luckily because of the economic downturn at that time, that plan was put on hold.

 

Burt Bacharach owned Rothmann’s for a few years and then it was sold several times and the façade was changed. The 1851 building was razed in 1995 to build a western style steakhouse. Then a Greek Restaurant emerged. That did not last long either. It was sort of not in keeping with the tradition. Then it changed hands again and another renovation took place. All through these changes, Gloria O’Rourke, one of the Rothmann’s children who was the Editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian, a local paper, kept watch and wrote something about the good times at the Old Rothmann’s.

 

The new Rothmann’s sported a cupola which the old Rothmann’s did not have. However, the food is still excellent as ever though a little bit on the expensive side. I took my children there for their birthdays while they were in high school and broke the bank but it was all worth it. In 2007, while working as a real estate agent at Century 21 Laffey Associates, I won a dinner for two on a For Sale by Owner Contest. I took my husband there. It was a very special dinner and cost my office $160.

 

I remember my mother-in-law used to take my husband and me to Rothmann’s every Sunday night during the summer in the early 70s when she was residing in town. She wintered in New York city. Since we were a regular, we sat on the same table at the corner across from the bar every Sunday. We had this German waiter who used to work at LaGrange Inn in West Islip and attended to us every week. He knew our names, where to sit us, what drink to serve us and what to order. We ate the same thing every Sunday. My mother-in-law gave generous tip to the waiter and always paid cash. She did not own a credit card and did not want one.

As Gloria O’Rourke would say and it was her favorite expression, “Those were the days.”

Sources:

Oyster Bay Remembered by John E. Hammond

www.activerain.com

 

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Rosalinda Morgan