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

 

 

East Islip – The Hollinses, The Knapps and The Morgans

This is a continuation of East Islip History. Part 1 was posted a couple of weeks ago. Click here to read East Islip, Suffolk County – Early History.

 

Long Island Beach

When the glaciers melted during the Ice Age, it creates a difference between the North Shore beaches and the South Shore beaches. The North Shore beaches are rocky while the South Shore beaches are crisp, clear and outwash sand. The beauty of the beach and the proximity to the barrier island enticed some New York city residents to settle on the South Shore. South Shore communities are built along protected wetlands and contain white sandy beaches of barrier islands fronting the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Most descendants of late 19th and early 20th century immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and black migrants from the South liked the landscape of Long Island South Shore. Other ethnic groups followed, although Nassau County is more densely developed than Suffolk Country and has pockets of great wealth with estates covering huge acreage within the Gold Coast of the North Shore where wealthy industrialists during the Gilded Age built lavish country homes.

 

East Islip, like some hamlets along Long Island’s south shore, was once an enclave for some of the nation’s wealthiest families. Its estates at one time included the Hollins, Gulden, and Knapp estates, among others.

 

Knapp Home Photo

The original estate mansion, Brookwood Hall, owned originally by the Knapp family has passed from its last private owners, the Thorne family.

The three-story, 41-room mansion with French and Greek influences was designed by the renowned New York architectural firm Delano & Aldrich, whose portfolio includes blueprints for the Vanderbilt and Whitney families’ homes. It was built in 1903 for the affluent Knapp family before it was sold to financier Francis B. Thorne in 1929. It was later used as an orphanage before the town purchased the 44-acre property in 1967. Now, it houses its parks department headquarters as well as the nonprofit Islip Arts Council.

 

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Brookwood Hall under renovation. Check Newsday article.

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/islip-owned-brookwood-hall-to-receive-additional-renovations-1.12769093

 
BrookwoodHall    Bob and Matt at Brookwood Hall

Here is an undated photo of the portico of Brookwood Hall. On the right is a photo of my brother in law, Robert W Morgan and my husband, Matthew Morgan (with blond hair) on the steps of the portico taken in the 1930s on their visit to their aunt Hildegard who was then married to Francis Thorne, the owner of Brookwood Hall.

 

Other big estates at that time is the Sullivan estate which would become the home of the Hewlett School, an old private boarding school. Some estates and early farmlands were donated to the Roman Catholic Church and would make up the current grounds of St Mary’s Catholic Church of East Islip, which includes a private elementary and middle school, in addition to church and other parish buildings. There was also the original Westbrook farm on the boundary between East Islip and Oakdale, near the Bayard Cutting Arboretum.

 

East Islip borders four other hamlets: Islip is to the west, Islip Terrace is to the north, North Great River is to the northeast, and Great River is to the east. The Great South Bay is to the south.

 

In 1880, Harry B. Hollins purchased a large property in East Islip located south of the South Country Rd. and running to the bay on the south and to Champlin’s Creek on the west. It was known at the time as the Mainwaring Farm and could be reached by Pavilion Avenue. It was several hundred acres in size and would be called Meadowfarm. He built a large country home with several outbuildings including the usual stables and carriage house.

 

When the Hollins fell into hard times, Charles L. Lawrence bought the main house along with 116 acres bordering the Great South Bay and Champlin Creek. My husband’s Grandma Morgan bought the stables and clock tower together with about 15 acres. They are still in existence today but are now located on 37 Blackmore Ln. Blackmore was named after the Mr. Hollins’ estate manager. My husband said he and Harry III were the vain of Mr. Blackmore’s existence when they were in their teens. Matt and Harry III were best friends and neighbors.

 

The Hollins renovated one of the farmhouses on the northern portion of the property approximately 480 acres remaining to which they relocated. When my husband family lived on that street, there were only 5 houses in the whole street with Charles Lawrence family at the end of the road having the biggest property. First house you see as you enter Meadow Farm Rd was Mr. Harry Knapp’s, then my husband’s parents’ home, then Mrs. Harry Knapp’s (The Creekside). They got divorced and Mr. Knapp built the other house. After Creekside, my husband’s Grandma Morgan’s house and then Mr. Charles Lawrence’s house at the end.

 

Nowadays, you won’t even recognize the old Meadow Farm Rd. Several houses were built during the last 30 years. When my husband took me to see his old place in the ‘70s the place was still intact. New development had not invaded the area yet. It was a quiet street with lots of trees. The hemlock tree he planted when he was six years old was still in front of his house. It’s most likely been cut down when the new development began construction.

 

Harry Knapp's Driveway

Creekside’s driveway between my husband’s parents’ property on one side and his grandmother’s property on the other side.

 

The Creekside 70 Meadow Farm Rd

The Creekside’s backyard on Meadow Farm Rd. owned by Harry Knapp Jr. His son, Harry Knapp III was my husband best friend and my husband spent a lot of time in this house when they were young boys. At the time my husband was growing up on Meadow Farm Rd., there was no number on the street because there were only five houses on the whole street. I could not find a photo of my husband’s house on the internet. We have no copy of the pictures of the Morgan’s house. We gave all the photos of the house from the time it was constructed to later years to Robert Entenmann of Entenmann’s Bakery when they bought the house from Mrs. Robert Pinkerton of Pinkerton Detective Agency who bought the house from my in-laws. We should have kept the album. My husband said at that time, “What for? We don’t own the house anymore.” Now, we are sorry we gave them away.

 

88 Meadow Farm Rd.

This is the aerial view of the Meadow Farm Rd and the creek behind it. It’s most likely part of the Lawrence estate which is the biggest parcel of land at the end of the street.

 

During the summer months in the 1920s, plenty of notable people visited East Islip including Charles Lindbergh and a high-ranking person on the world’s stage, the Prince of Wales. In September 1924, while he was a houseguest of Mr. & Mrs. James Burden of Syosset (she was a niece of William K. Vanderbilt), the Prince of Wales would often “disappear” with his two equerries, during a party and paid a visit to the Hollinses at Meadowfarm in East Islip. He would not return to the Burdens until the next day.

 

Sources: Hometown Long Island, Along the Great South Bay by Harry W. Havemeyer, Personal conversation with Matthew Morgan, Wikipedia, New York Times, Newsday

 

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

Rosalinda

 

 

East Islip, Suffolk County – Early History

While the Dutch was settling in western Long Island North Shore in the 1600s, the English were taking claims to what is now the Suffolk County on land next to Great South Bay. East Islip, a hamlet in the Town of Islip on the South Shore of Long Island was one such place. Originally referred to as “East of Islip”, the hamlet was acquired in 1890 from the estate of William Nicoll, an English aristocrat, founder of the Town of Islip and son of New York City Mayor, Matthias Nicoll.

 

On November 29, 1683, William Nicoll was awarded the first royal patent to the east end of what is now the Town of Islip. Nicoll’s purchase comprised 51, 000 acres (20,639 ha.) from the Secatogue Indians, reaching as far as Bayport to the east, Babylon to the west and Ronkonkoma to the north. He later purchased the surrounding land to build a family residence from Sachem (Chief) Winnequaheagh of Connetquot. He named his plantation “Islip Grange”, in honor of his ancestral home of Islip in East Northamptonshire in England, from which Matthias emigrated in 1664. Nicoll paid an annual quit-rent (tax) of five bushels of good winter wheat or 25 shillings to Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick and Governor of the Province of New York.

 

William Nicholl also purchased five islands from Winnequaheagh on November 19, 1687, including Hollins Island (a.k.a. East Fire Island). The purchase was confirmed on a patent by Governor Dongan on June 4, 1688. Altogether William Nicoll acquired four patents for land – the final purchase was on September 20, 1697, issued by Governor Benjamin Fletcher. Nicoll’s estate eventually became the largest manor on Long Island.

 

For decades before Jan. 16, 1890, this small community was part of what was known as “East of Islip.” The citizen obviously didn’t want much change so they changed the name officially to East Islip on Jan. 16, 1890. The area was part of the original 51,000-acre purchase from the Secatogues by Islip founder William Nicoll.

 

The community, which covered a territory reaching east to Bayport and north to Lake Ronkonkoma, was long sparsely settled, with farming, fishing, boat building, lumbering and some shipping the mainstays of the economy. Residents used churches in the surrounding communities for years. Its hotel – the Pavillion, the Somerset and the Lake House – often were the site for town meetings held in April. A one-room schoolhouse was replaced by one with two rooms in 1857. Rail service, available since 1842 via Brentwood, reached East Islip in 1868.

hewlettsschool blogspot com

The original Hewlett School for privileged young women, begun in Hewlett in 1915, was moved to an estate site on Suffolk Lane, in East Islip, in 1941. (above photo).

 

East Islip became the home of Heckscher State Park, which would have been named Deer Range State Park if not for philanthropist August Hecksher’s donation of $262,000 toward the purchase of the Great South Bay estate of George C. Taylor, a wealthy eccentric who died in 1908. The estate was unoccupied for 16 years until 1924, when Charles Moses, president of the new Long Island State Park Commission, moved to take it for a state park. That triggered a five-year court battle against wealthy local opponents led by W. Kingsland Macy, a powerful Republican who later went to Congress. At a hearing during the long legal fight, Gov. Al Smith heard a millionaire express fear the park would be “overrun with rabble from the city.” Smith retorted, “Why, that’s me,” and promptly signed some key papers.

 

More to come in the next installment – The Hollins, the Knapp and the Morgan family.

 

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

Rosalinda

 

Sources: Hometown Long Island, Along the Great South Bay by Harry W. Havemeyer, Wikipedia, New York Times.

 

 

 

 

Leaves of Grass – A Special Edition

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While looking for something to read next, I came across a signed copy of “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman published by David McKay (Copyright 1900). On the front matter, there is a picture of him with a handwritten note on the bottom “David McKay from his friend Walt Whitman”.

 

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I browsed through the book and a page was earmarked and there was the poem “O Captain! My Captain!”, one of the favorite poems of our class in Literature in high school. I didn’t know who Walt Whitman was at that time. I was thirteen and English was not my favorite subject. For me I like Math the best. I had no idea why the class loved the poem so much except for the fact that our English teacher, Mrs. Brual, read it to us with so much emotion that we began to like it. She was the principal of the school and the best English teacher we had. Little did I know that someday I would be living in Long Island in a town very close to where Walt Whitman lived and finding out that he was one of the best poets in the U.S.

Read on. It got interesting later.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain, our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

 

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!

The arm beneath your head!

It is some dream that on the deck,

You’ve fallen cold and dead.

 

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

Exult O shores and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen Cold and Dead. 

But that’s not all. Inserted or rather attached inside the book are onion skin papers (three of them) with Biographical Note of Walt Whitman written in his own handwriting from May 31, 1819 to 1888 where he wrote “Mr. Whitman is now in his 70th year”. The paragraph ends with “He resides in Mickla St, Camden, New Jersey”.

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There is another piece of paper attached somewhere in the middle of the book where he addressed sending a couple of copies to David McKay’s children.

Few years ago, I took the book to an Antique Roadshow in Charleston. We had the ticket for the late session. When I showed it to the appraiser, he took one look at the book without opening it and gave me $10 for the book. I was very disappointed to say the least. He must be so tired and in a hurry since they were doing the appraisal since early in the morning. It was a long day for them and there was still a long line and it was almost closing time. At that time, I was not aware of the handwritten notes inside. The book has a rough edges and if you flip the pages, it does not really come out unless you go page by page individually. It somehow clings to the other pages. It’s really hard to find it right away. I had to be careful and thorough. I did not see the biographical note till today. I saw the note about the copies to the children a week ago.

When we went to the Antique Roadshow, I did not know what to bring. We have so much antique in the house so choosing one which is easy to carry is what we wanted to do. I just saw the book in one of the bookshelves and since it was an old book and Walt Whitman was a famous poet, I decided to bring it over.

I only discovered the notes recently. There must be a value to it since it looks like this is a special copy intended for his publisher with all the written notes in Walt Whitman’s own handwriting. I’m intrigued and would like to find out if it is worth anything. If not, I still have a special book signed by a famous poet.

 

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Rosalinda Morgan

Limited Time Deal for “The Wentworth Legacy” – One Week Only

Starting Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. PDT and ends on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 12:00 a.m. PDT when it goes back to its regular price of $6.99. you can order the kindle copy of The Wentworth Legacy for $1.99 at Amazon.com. Click here to buy now.

The Wentworth Legacy

 

In 1927 while on a Grand Tour, Spencer A. Wentworth, a young scion of a wealthy old banking family of Long Island, New York Gold Coast, receives an urgent telegram to come home immediately. No explanation.

 Upon arriving home, he was handed a huge responsibility that he was not prepared for.

As the stock market begins to collapse, he is plagued with worries that the family will lose everything including Wentworth Hall, his ancestral home. Honoring his promise to preserve it, he is determined to save Wentworth Hall at any cost including the loss of the woman he loves.

It is a tale of responsibility, love, betrayal and suspense during the Gilded Age with a backdrop of a way of life long gone.

 

Take advantage of the Limited Time Offer. Get your copy today!

 

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

 

Rosalinda Morgan

 

Muttontown, NY and the Muttontown Preserve

Muttontown is an incorporated upscale village in northern Oyster Bay Township with a total area of 6.1 square miles and family income is one of Long Island’s highest. The area borders Brookville to the south and west, East Norwich to the north and Syosset to the east. It does not have its own post office and residents of Muttontown have 5 different zip codes – 11791 (Syosset), 11753 (Jericho), 11732 (East Norwich), 11771 (Oyster Bay) and 11545 (Glen Head). Based on the zip codes, Muttontown also has 4 different school districts – Jericho, Syosset, Locust Valley and East Norwich-Oyster Bay. From 382 people residing there in 1950, the population has grown to 3,497 in 2010 census.

Muttontown traces its name to the early English and Dutch settlers in mid 1600s who found the rolling hills ideal for the thousands of sheep that grazed there, providing mutton and wool. The first mention of Muttontown in town records occurred just after 1750, identifying it as a “former great sheep district” between Wolver Hollow (later called Brookville) and Syosset.

Around 1900, wealthy families from New York City established large homes in Muttontown as part of Gold Coast fever. There are three mansions worth mentioning when talking about Muttontown.

Nassau Hall

Delano & Aldrich, the prominent architect of the ‘20s made his first commission in this area. His first commission is the Christie House on Muttontown Rd. whose exterior wall was modeled after Mount Vernon, the home of our first president, George Washington. This mansion is now called Nassau Hall owned by Nassau County. Nassau Hall was built by Delano & Aldrich for the Winthrop family and was known originally as the Egerton L. Winthrop Jr. House or Muttontown Meadows. The estate was purchased in 1950 by Lansdell Christie who had made a fortune mining iron ore in Liberia and called the place Christie House. His widow, Helen Christie sold the house and its 183 acres to Nassau County in 1969.

It is now the home of Nassau Parks Conservancy. At some point, I was on the board of Nassau Parks Conservancy when I had the Nassau Hall Rose Garden Restoration as one of my projects.

Sandy, Pat and LM at Nassau Hall

Here I was with the baseball cap with two of my volunteers. As you can see from the photo, the garden was overgrown with brambles and such and it was a big challenge when we started the project. We were able to restore three beds on the parterre when there was a reorganization of the Conservancy and the volunteers gave up the cause. We had no funding. I was buying supplies – soil, compost, fertilizer and roses to fill up the empty spot out of my own pocket. It was overwhelming. We were able to save some of the old roses.

While we were restoring the garden at Nassau Hall, the curator took me on a tour of the ground and pointed a wonderful huge statue hidden behind some trees as we walked down the driveway. The place was neglected for years. We walked around the property toward the pine grove. He told me Mr. Winthrop was a big collector of pine trees and Nassau Hall has one of the biggest collection of various species of pine trees in the country. We walked to an area where they still have the chicken coop, the gazebo which the Boy Scout was trying to repair and other neglected gardens in the premises. I could imagine the beauty of the place in its heyday. It’s sad to see a beautiful place not maintained properly. Nassau Country does not have the fund to restore the place.
Chelsea 2

The Chelsea Mansion

 

Chelsea 3

Looking across from the front of the mansion.

Nearby is another mansion located on the beautiful Muttontown Preserve. Chelsea Mansion with a French Normandy style architecture was built for Mr. & Mrs. Benjamin Moore in 1924. Mr. Benjamin Moore’s great, great grandfather was the author, Clement Clark Moore, who wrote the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, otherwise known as “’Twas The Night Before Christmas”. Chelsea Mansion was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. One special feature of this property is the moat around the mansion, an Oriental influence favored by Mrs. Moore after a trip to China on her honeymoon in 1921. Chelsea is also owned by Nassau County and used now for various charity fundraising events and concerts in the summer. Locust Valley Garden Club moved our meeting place to Chelsea Mansion while I was president and our meeting place, Bailey House at Bailey Arboretum in Lattingtown was undergoing extensive renovation.

Chelsea 4

The parlor where the Locust Valley Garden Club met.

Benjamin Moore was the first mayor of the village of Muttontown (1931-1938). Mr. Moore’s died in 1938, and 17 years later Mrs. Moore married Robert McKay, a life-long friend. Mr. McKay died in 1958. In 1964, Mrs. Alexandra Moore McKay began donating portion of the property to Nassau County and over a period of 10 years, nearly 100 acres were donated to the County.

The county at various times purchased a total of about 430 acres from Christie for the preserve. With this acquisitions plus the Christie House, Nassau County created the 550-acre Muttontown Preserve which is open to the public. Muttontown Preserve is one of the most beautiful preserves in Long Island. An Equestrian Center for those who love horseback riding can also be found on its premises and is accessible at Route 106 entrance. During the early part of the 20th century, this area was a horse country. Fox hunting used to be a favorite pastime by the upper class. For people who love nature, there are miles of nature trails where you can go on foot or ride your horse.

Another mansion was Knollwood, a 60-room mansion erected by Wall Street tycoon Charles I. Hudson in 1906-1907. It had elements of Greek Revival, Italian Renaissance and Spanish styling, with towering Ionic front columns. It is part of the Muttontown Preserve. It was sold in 1951 to King Zog I of Albania. King Zog never lived in it. He was supposed to rule his kingdom while on exile at Muttontown. He sold the place in 1955 to Lansdell K. Christie. The mansion was razed by Christie in 1959 after extensive vandalism. You can still see some of the ruins of the mansion.

Muttontown Preserve Ruin 2

From Flickr.com

Muttontown Preserve Ruin

From Yelp.com

Because of the way village boundaries were drawn when Muttontown was incorporated in 1931, the landmark Brookville Reformed Church, completed in 1734 and historically linked with Brookville, found itself situated a short way into Muttontown, at Brookville and Wheatley Roads, where Brookville, Upper Brookville and Muttontown converged.

One of the mansions in Muttontown found its way into my book, ‘The Wentworth Legacy”. It became my inspiration to write a book about the North Shore. I was invited to tea at one of the big estates in Muttontown after I got married. The owner is a friend of my husband and he and his wife wanted to meet me. It was a big treat for me and I remembered all the details of the house when I was given a tour of the first floor and the garden. The place was located at the highest point in Muttontown and there was a long, winding drive to reach the mansion. It was quite impressive.

Sources:

Hometown Long Island by Newsday; Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940, edited by Robert MacKay, Anthony Baker and Carol A. Traynor; Wikipaedia and various conversations with the curator of both Nassau Hall and Chelsea Mansion.

 

Until next time. Let’s keep on exploring.

Rosalinda

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell Clarence Michalis, the Longest Serving Mayor in NY State history

Clarence Michalis

Lattingtown Mayor Clarence Michalis in front of the village office sign. (April 9, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Clarence Fahnestock Michalis of Locust Valley, the former Mayor of tony Lattingtown, died on March 30th. Clarence Michalis was 96 years old. Born in 1922 to Clarence G and Helen C. Michalis, he lived in New York City and Garrison, NY. He graduated from Buckley School, St. Paul’s School and Harvard College and then entered the U.S. Navy where he spent the next three years as a lieutenant and navigator on the U.S.S. Hall in the Pacific. He worked at First National City Bank, and was CFO of Bristol-Myers Co., former chairman of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, Cooper Union and Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation.  

He was the longest-serving mayor in New York State history and emerged victorious in the last Village election in June 2013. At that time Clarence was 91, and had held the office for 44 years. He defeated Nicholas DellaFera, the 23-year-old challenger on June 18th, 2013, winning handily (376-87), and inspiring the largest voter turnout in 4 decades. Of the election Michalis noted, “It was a simple case of age and experience trumping youthful zeal.”

As a dedicated civic leader, he was mayor of the Village of Lattingtown for 48 years, past president and trustee of the Nassau County Museum of Art, active member and former president of Piping Rock Club, former commissioner of the Locust Valley Fire District, commodore of Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, trustee of the North Shore Land Alliance and member of the Union Club, New York Yacht Club and Holland Lodge. 

In his last years as Mayor, when most 90+ would be slowing down, Clarence still had his fingers on the pulse of the area. It was Clarence who first cautioned Loriann Cody about the possible closing of the Rottkamp Farm in Glen Head (the problem has fortunately been resolved and Rottkamp remains open.)

When his failing health forced him to step down as Mayor in early 2017, he maintained his sense of humor saying, “I used to see many politicians, now I see many doctors.”

Michalis was much loved and admired. At the time of the election, Diane Fagiola, wife of current Lattingtown Mayor Robert Fagiola, said of him, “Clarence knows how things work – how roads are built and how to fix them, about storms and the damage they cause. He knows about wet-lands, mosquitoes, trees and wildlife. He can fix a diesel engine – still. He knows how to cut costs but not quality, and he’s balanced thousands of budgets. He also knows a lot about people – what bothers us, what moves us, what motivates us. He’s a brilliant leader. If I were caught in a storm at sea, I’d like to be in Clarence’s boat.”

Mayor Peter Quick of the Village of Mill Neck said, “I have never met a man more dedicated to his community than Clarence. He is a sage in terms of advice and the ultimate gentleman of Lattingtown. His experience is unparalleled. If he were running against me, I would vote for him.”

Loriann Cody of the Locust Valley Leader last saw Clarence on Sunday evening, June 25th, 2017, when he was honored for his 48 years of mayoral service at the Lattingtown home of Diane and Robert Fagiola. One U.S. Congressman, one State Senator, one Assemblyperson, one Nobel laureate, six mayors, local village trustees, family members and friends were among the more than 80 who toasted Michalis.

Clarence is survived by his wife of 64 years, Cora Bush and four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Friday, April 13th at 1:00 PM at St. John’s Church in Lattingtown. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Merchant’s House Museum and the North Shore Land Alliance.

Until next time. Let’s keep on exploring.

Rosalinda

 

Source: New York Times, Newsday and and The Locust Valley Leader, April 4, 2018 by Loriann Cody.