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