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.

 

P1070100

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.

 

 

 

 

Oyster Bay – A Pearl of a Place

TR statue in OB 2

Oyster Bay, a small picturesque town on a peninsula on the North Shore of Long Island is a destination.  During the summer time, you will see plenty of cars heading north on Route 106 and you wonder where all these people are going.  But it is not a surprise that people flock to this tiown because Oyster Bay has a lot to offer the residents and visitors alike.  Besides the beautiful beaches, Oyster bay has magnificent parks, arboretum, museums – Raynham Hall and Earle-Wightman House of the Oyster Bay Historical Society and the Oyster Bay Festival in the Fall is one to be reckoned with.

Oyster Bay is rich in culture and history.  Back in 1639 when a Dutch navigator named David DeVries decided to settle here, he found an abundance of oysters and maybe that is the reason they decided to name the community Oyster Bay.  Another theory is because of the shape of the Oyster Bay Harbor as it was shown in a 1674 map of Long Island.  While DeVries is credited with the naming of Oyster Bay, an English settler named Peter Wright made the first purchase of land in Oyster Bay in 1653 from Chief Mohanes of the Matinecock Indians in what was known as Town Spot which is where the village of Oyster Bay is now.  It is also interesting to know that George Washington “slept here” during his tour of Long Island in 1790 as a guest of the Youngs family in Oyster Bay.

OB 1910

South Street, Circa 1910

Downtown OB Today

South Street Today

The town of Oyster Bay is Teddy Roosevelt town.  Everywhere you look, there is a footprint of Teddy Roosevelt.  There is a park called Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and the elementary school is named Roosevelt Elementary School.  Teddy Roosevelt had his summer White House here at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay Cove from 1902 to 1908; he worshiped at Christ Church in Oyster Bay; he had an office at the Moore Bldg (the building on the right of the photo with a turret) in Oyster Bay and received phone calls at Snouder’s Drug Store (the store on the left with the awnings).  He participated at the Fourth of July parade here on South Street and rode the Long Island Railroad in Oyster Bay.

Sagamore Hill

Sagamore Hill, the summer White House during TR’s presidency.

As you enter the Village of Oyster Bay, you are greeted by a statue of Theodore Roosevelt on horseback by A. Phiminster Proctor across from the Boys and Girls Club of Oyster Bay.  There is also a bust of Teddy Roosevelt in front of the Town Hall.

TR statue in OB

With the migration of people from New York City to the Town of Oyster Bay, the town is changing but there are still plenty of old Victorian homes in the village which keep the small, quaint town atmosphere.  Oyster Bay is one of the most attractive places to live, work and play in Long Island, New York.

 

Long Island Vineyards Produce World Class Wines

Looking for a place to go on a weekend?

I know. The week just started. But what a better time to start planning for the weekend. Weekend is a great opportunity to make a trip to Long Island’s East End and discover the award-winning wines of Long Island. Long Island wines are both grown on the North Fork and the South Fork on the East End of Long Island.

Critics_Challenge Banfi

 

So if you are going to New York or its vicinity, it will be a great idea to go to the East End. At this time of the year, it is even better. Less crowd means less traffic.

 

Not only will you be rewarded with the great wine experience, the drive is exhilarating. Out east, you’ll find out that you are really in the back country. There are farms everywhere. Years ago, these farms were mostly potatoes farms and cornfields. Nowadays, they are sod farms and landscape trees farm.

 

How things change. But still, you’ll see historic towns, fishing villages, seafood restaurants, bed and breakfast establishments, flower and farm stalls and a proliferation of vineyards that dotted along the only main thoroughfare, the Main St. (Route 25). While you are there, you might as well go all the way to the end to Orient Point, the end of the North Fork. If you’re inclined, you can take the ferry which can transport you to New London, Connecticut. Before you head back home, you can cap your trip with a dinner at Claudio’s Restaurant in Greenport. That’s on the North Fork.

 

However, traveling to the South Fork on the weekend is horrendous. Everyone seems to be going to the Hamptons. My husband and I went out east to the South Fork once during the week and it was a pleasant day trip. No traffic. There are also some wineries on the South Fork but not as many as in the North Fork.

 

Grapevine

The first grapevines were planted 45 years ago in Cutchogue on the North Fork of Long Island. Today the area boasts of so many vineyards that they are able to compete with California wines and French wines. The early vintners found that Long Island has the best climate and soil and growing conditions for excellent ingredients for quality wines. The vintners here used the age-old growing techniques with the state-of-the-art technology to produce the award-winning wines.

 

However, there is a hidden vineyard located around the most expensive neighborhood of Long island. Villa Banfi Vineyard is located in Old Brookville. One can see their vineyard on Hegeman’s Lane off Route 25A going east toward Brookville Country Club. Although they do not have a vineyard tour, sometimes, they will open the main house for special private fundraising events like those held by the Oyster Bay Historical Society years ago when I was its treasurer.

 

Below is the 60-room manor house which is Banfi’s headquarters, originally known as “Rynwood” which also served as a country retreat for a branch of the Vanderbilt family. It sits amid squared lawns and formal English gardens on a heavily landscaped 55-acre estate in Old Brookville. A unique boast of the manor is a wine cellar that houses some 6,000 bottles of rare vintages.

 

Villa Banfi - Old Brookville

 

Going to the North Fork is a snap. You take the Long Island Expressway to the end and then take Route 25. Once you’re on Route 25, at the second light, turn left to the end which is Sound Ave. By doing this route, you’ll also avoid the traffic congestion at Riverhead. You might like to drop at Briarmere’s Farm Stand and buy some pies. They are out of this world but I caution you, they are very expensive. Then follow that road and you’ll find vineyard after vineyard scattered about the road.

 

Go to Martha Clara Vineyards first since you are already on that road before you turn right and head back to Route 25 where you’ll see more vineyards. Check out other vineyards. I found some vineyards have friendlier staff than others. All in all, you’ll have a pleasant trip.

 

I like Pindar Vineyards very much and I like Viognier wine the best. I tried to order it online and I was disappointed they cannot ship Viognier to SC. I also have not seen Pindar wines sold in SC or for that matter any New York wines. I wonder why.

 

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Rosalinda

“The Rose Lady”

www.rosalindarmorgan.com

More facts about Long Island

 

Planting Fields State Park

Planting Fields State Park

Long Island, NY has 26 state parks.

 

East Hampton Coastline

East Hampton Coastline

Long Island’s picturesque coastline is 1,180 miles long.

 

Charles_Lindbergh_and_the_Spirit_of_Saint_Louis_(Crisco_restoration,_with_wings)

Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of Saint Louis

Charles Lindbergh began his famous non-stop flight from New York to Paris from Long Island’s Roosevelt Field airstrip in the early morning of Friday, May 20, 1927.

 

Apollo Lunar Module - NASA

The Apollo Lunar Module (LM) that landed on the moon was built in Long Island, NY by Grumman Corp.

 

The Great Gatsby

F.Scott Fitzgerald wrote the Great Gatsby (which described Long Island’s “Gold Coast”) while living in Great Neck.

 

The Vanderbilt Planetarium, located in Centerport, NY is one of the largest and best-equipped in the United States.

The Long Island Railroad provides more than 303,000 rides to customers each weekday.

Long Island, NY has several national award-winning schools including more than 14 leading colleges and universities.

Long Island has world leaders in biotechnology.

Long Island has leading research and world-renowned hospitals.

 

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Rosalinda, “The Rose Lady ”

www.rosalindarmorgan.com