Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mitchel Field

In 1917, a new army aviation field, Field #2, was established just south of Hazelhurst Field to serve as an additional training and storage base. Hundreds of aviators were trained for war at these training fields, two of the largest in the United States. Numerous buildings and tents were erected on Roosevelt and Field #2 in 1918 in order to meet this rapid expansion. In July 1918, Field #2 was renamed Mitchel Field in honor of former New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel who was killed while training for the Air Service in Louisiana.

Mitchel Field continued to grow after World War I. Between 1929 and 1932 a major new construction program was undertaken. New barracks, officers clubs, housing, warehouses, and operations buildings were constructed, as well as eight massive steel and concrete hangars.

Between the wars, Mitchel became a premier air corps base, somewhat of a military Country Club atmosphere with fine housing, clubs, pools, polo fields and tree-lined streets. It became home to several observation, fighter and bombardment groups and it hosted the 1920 and 1925 National Air Races.

In 1922, the Army laid out its first air route, a model airway, from Mitchel field to McCook Field, Ohio. In 1938, Mitchel was the starting point for the first nonstop transcontinental bomber flight, made by Army B-18s. Mitchel Field also served as a base from which the first demonstration of long-range aerial reconnaissance was made.

During World War II, Mitchel was the main point of air defense for New York City, equipped with two squadrons of P-40 fighters. In the late 1940s, it was headquarters of the Air Defense Command, First Air Force and Continental Air Command. By 1949, Mitchel was relieved of the responsibility for defending New York City because of the many problems associated with operating tactical aircraft in an urban area.

After several notable crashes, including a P-47 into Hofstra Universities Barnard Hall, public pressure ultimately led to closure. The last active unit to be based at Mitchel was the 514th Troop Carrier Wing flying Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars. Due to the noise, small size of the field, and several spectacular crashes, Mitchel was closed in 1961 with the property being turned over to the County of Nassau.

The original Mitchel Field included the land now occupied by the Nassau Coliseum, the Mitchel Athletic Complex, Hofstra University and Nassau Community College. Roughly 108 acres of Mitchel Field's original 1,170 acres — once dominated by runways, air fields and taxiways — remain intact, including three of five hangars, a firehouse, two maintenance buildings once used for aircraft assembly and machine shops, military housing and a commissary.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.  


Brodsky, Robert. “Historic Air Base Added to National Register.” Newsday, Newsday, 1 Aug. 2018,

“Mitchel Field at the Cradle of Aviation.” Cradle of Aviation Museum,

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Pilgrim State Hospital

At the turn of the 19th century, New York City’s psychiatric facilities were becoming overcrowded and the expansion to quiet, calm Long Island farms was a strategy to deal with the overpopulation. The concept was to build a center on Long Island near farms and have patients in a relaxed setting. This idea for the hospital created the concept that the hospital was more of a “farm colony” than a psychiatric asylum. Two major farm colonies were created because of this concept, Kings Park State Hospital and Central Islip State Hospital. These two farm colonies eventually became overcrowded also, and another farm colony was needed. This lead to the creation of Pilgrim State Hospital.

Pilgrim State Hospital, known now as Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, is a state-run psychiatric hospital on Long Island. It was named in honor of Dr. Charles W. Pilgrim who was a former New York State Commissioner of Mental Health.

The psychiatric center’s construction began in Brentwood, NY in 1929. The Pilgrim State Hospital was opened on October 1, 1931 and at its opening, it was the largest hospital of any kind around the world. The hospital had multiple sets of buildings and each set was known as a quad. Each quad was composed of four building surrounding one central building which housed the kitchen for each building set.

The hospital was a close-knit community and self-sufficient. It had its own police department, fire department, post office, courts, Long Island Railroad station, power plant, swine farm, church, cemetery, water tower, and staff and administrator housing centers.
In the years following its creation, the patient population continued growing as it did for the other hospitals. With the continuous growth, New York State felt the need to expand and purchased more land southwest of the hospital. This newly acquired land was used for the construction of the Edgewood State Hospital, which had a very short lifespan.

At the time of the Second World War, the War Department took control of Edgewood State Hospital and three new buildings of Pilgrim State Hospital. The new possession of these buildings was called Mason General Hospital, which was a psychiatric facility devoting its work to aiding and treating battle-traumatized soldiers. There is a documentary called “Let There Be Light” made by John Huston (available at libraries in Nassau County) about Mason General Hospital and the soldiers there who suffered PTSD and other psychiatric disorders from battle.

After World War II’s end, Pilgrim State Hospital again experienced a large patient increase, with 13,875 patients committed and over 4,000 employees staffed to help these patients. The 1950s brought about a more aggressive treatment style at Pilgrim State Hospital where there was a history of lobotomies and electro-convulsive therapy.

Pilgrim State Hospital soon began its decline due to the availability of pharmaceutical treatments as an alternative to aggressive treatments and hospitalization.

Today, Pilgrim State Hospital still stands, but the farm land was sold. The farms are now part of Suffolk County Community College. The parts of the hospital that still stand are very small compared to the previously used areas of the hospital. Additionally, part of Pilgrim State Hospital is now a host to the Long Island Psychiatric Museum with displays including photos, newsletters, and relics left behind.

“Pilgrim Psychiatric Center.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Aug. 2018,

Monday, November 5, 2018

Roosevelt Raceway

Roosevelt Raceway in Westbury, was the first track in the nation to run harness horses.

The harness racing facility opened on September 2, 1940. George Washington Vanderbilt III, George Preston Marshall and Eddie Rickenbacker raised money to build a new home for the dormant auto race the Vanderbilt Cup, which had last been run in 1916. Vanderbilt Cup winner George Robertson was hired to oversee construction of the facility. The land was acquired by lease of the land that was "Unit 2" of the Roosevelt Field airport, and was the site of the runway from which Charles Lindbergh took off in the Spirit of St. Louis. The original raceway was twisty and bumpy, not quite suited to the big-bore big-BHP racecars of the day, and a number of the drivers did not like the track. The 1937 layout was faster, with fewer corners and longer straights. Despite these adaptations, no GP motor car races were held there afterwards.

The property was leased in 1939 by a group of investors (Old Country Trotting Association) led by George Morton Levy with the intention of opening a harness racing track. It was the original home of the Messenger Stakes, part of the Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Pacers. It was also the first track to use the now universal "mobile starting gate".

The site of Roosevelt Raceway is part of the Hempstead Plains, located in an unincorporated area of the Town of Hempstead. It is located near where the first English Governor of New York, Richard Nicolls, established the "Newmarket Course", the first horse racing track in North America (and the first organized sport of any kind) in the territory that would become the United States, in 1664

It closed in July, 1988 due to dwindling crowds, lured away by offtrack betting and new competition from the Meadowlands race track in East Rutherford, N.J., that forced the decision to close, the track owner said.


Hevesi, Dennis. “Roosevelt Raceway Closes Down; Losses and Competition Are Cited.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 July 1988,

“Roosevelt Raceway.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Sept. 2018,

Monday, October 22, 2018

Eisenhower Park

At 930 acres, Eisenhower Park is one of the largest public spaces in the New York metropolitan area – larger, in fact, than Central Park. The park offers a full range of athletic and family activities, including one of the finest swimming facilities in the U.S., a major golf facility, dozens of athletic fields and courts, picnic areas, summertime entertainment, playgrounds, fitness trails and more.

Eisenhower Park consists of the former property owned by the exclusive Salisbury Country Club as well as adjoining properties acquired by the county. Prior to being The Nassau County Park at Salisbury, the golf courses were part of the Salisbury Golf Club, first developed in 1917 by Joseph J. Lannin, owner of the Garden City Hotel, Roosevelt Airfield, and the Boston Red Sox. Lannin died mysteriously in 1928, but his daughter Dorothy’s residence and carriage house (The Lannin House) still stand on Eisenhower Park’s property. Lannin moved the Salisbury Links to this site after his old course was made private. Golf architect Devereux Emmet designed the red course for the new club. Golfer Walter Hagen won the 1926 PGA Championship on it, making the course world famous.

During the Depression, the owners were unable to pay taxes and the property was taken over by the county. Subsequently, the county acquired additional land in the area. In 1944, Nassau County Park at Salisbury was established as part of County. Executive J. Russell Sprague's vision to create a park that "one day will be to Nassau County what Central Park is today to New York City." The park was officially dedicated in October of 1949.

The park was rededicated on October 13, 1969, as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Park at a ceremony attended by the 34th President's grandson, Dwight D. Eisenhower II, and his wife, Julie Nixon Eisenhower. Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano dedicated a statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower in a ceremony at Eisenhower Park on Sunday, October 13th, 2013.

Here’s a list of some of the things found in the park:

16 lighted tennis courts

Twin Rinks Ice Center consists of two indoor, NHL-sized skating rinks, as well as one outdoor rink.
Athletic fields include 17 baseball fields (14 for softball and three for hardball), four soccer fields and three football fields.

There is one full-court basketball court.

In the summer of 2007, the park introduced a two-mile Fitness Trail that provides a jogging or walking trail and 20 attractive and simple fitness stations that incorporate a variety of exercises. These include stretching, pull-ups, sit-ups and balance walking exercises that increase slightly in difficulty as the trail proceeds.

Eisenhower features three excellent 18-hole golf courses open to the public: the Red, White and Blue courses. The Red course, which hosted the Commerce Bank (PGA) Championship, has been called by Newsday one of the "Top 10" public golf courses on Long Island. In addition, the park has an illuminated driving range.

An 18-hole Miniature Golf Course is a popular attraction for children and families. The course, which has been named "Best of Long Island" by News 12 Long Island, features two 18-hole courses with terraced landscaping that incorporates a waterfall, small ponds, flower beds and a number of challenging holes.

There is a Batting Cage with nine separate batting areas offering varying pitching speeds for baseball or a softball option.

There are three playground areas with a range of activities for children.

Built in 1998 for the Goodwill Games, the Nassau County Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park is one of the finest swimming facilities in the U.S. It regularly hosts major swimming competitions and is also open to the public. The Center includes a “stretch” 50-meter pool that is 68 meters long, with three movable bulkheads. There is also a 25-meter diving well with competition diving towers, platforms, and springboards. In addition, there is a beautifully renovated fitness center, located above the pool.

The Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre is an outdoor theater that hosts a full schedule of entertainment events during the summer, from concerts to movies.

The large and beautiful Veterans Memorial and Wall of Honor commemorates the contributions of the nation’s veterans in various branches of service.

On September 9, 2007, the County unveiled the 9/11 Memorial honoring the 344 Nassau County residents who lost their lives during the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. The monument, one of the largest completed memorials to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, is located by Eisenhower Park Lake, near Lakeside Theatre. The monument includes two stainless-steel towers set in a fountain as well as two steel girders recovered from the World Trade Center; plaques memorialize the names of County residents who lost their lives.

There are two memorials to Nassau County firefighters who have died in the line of duty, including one dedicated to those county firefighters who lost their lives during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In the gaming area next to the playground, there is a bocci court and tables with inlaid chess and checker boards.

Eisenhower is home to Carltun on the Park restaurant, a privately run facility operated in a former country club. The Carltun offers a restaurant, bar, banquet facilities and a meeting room.

“Eisenhower Park | Nassau County, NY - Official Website.” Nassau County, Long Island New York,

“History of Eisenhower Park | Nassau County, NY - Official Website.” Nassau County, Long Island New York,

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Fire Island Lighthouse

Fire Island Lighthouse is an important aspect of Long Island history. The first Fire Island lighthouse was built and completed in 1826. The structure was only 74-feet high and octagonal pyramid shaped. The structure was cream-colored and made of Connecticut River blue split stone. Only being 74-feet high, the lighthouse was ineffective for its purpose of guiding transatlantic ships coming to the New York Harbor. Due to its ineffectiveness, this lighthouse was removed and the materials were reused to build a terrace on the new lighthouse. All that remains of the original lighthouse structure is a ring of bricks and stones.

With the need of a useful lighthouse for transatlantic ships, Congress appropriated $40,000 for a new structure in 1857. This new structure would be over double the height of the original, at 168 feet tall. After its completion, it was officially in use and lit on November 1, 1858. This new tower was made of red bricks which were painted a creamy yellow color and eventually again in August of 1891, it was repainted to alternating black and white bands which still remains its colors.

The lens that was fitted to the tower was called the First Order Fresnel Lens which released a white flash once a minute. The Lens was connected to a Funk Lamp with 5 concentric wicks which caused the illumination inside the lens. Since the lens was fitted to the tower, various different fuels were used with whale oil, lard oil mineral oil and kerosene being the most commonly used. Electricity was not reached to the tower until September 20 of 1938, and ironically the next day a hurricane struck cutting out the electricity, making the lighthouse’s electrification process delayed.

The lighthouse was decommissioned as an aid for transatlantic ships on December 31 of 1973, but the structure was left remaining and use of the light house and its tract, which spans approximately 82 acres, was temporarily given to the National Park Service for five years. Eventually, the tract was declared by law to be within the boundaries of the Fire Island National Seashore in 1979.
The year 1982 marked the creation of the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society which successfully raised over 1.3 million dollars. The money raised was to restore and preserve the lighthouse.

Two years later, in 1984, the Fire Island Lighthouse was marked as a historic site and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The restoration and preservation team decided to restore the lighthouse to its condition at the time of electrification, which was in 1939 due to delay from the hurricane.

The restoration was eventually completed and on Memorial Day of 1986, the lighthouse was relit and was reestablished as an official aid to navigation for boaters.

December of 1996, the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society was able to gain control over maintenance and operation of the Lighthouse and the Keeper’s Quarters. These aspects of control were through an agreement with the National Park Services, but did not give the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society ownership of the historic site.

The lighthouse is currently lit by two 1000-watt bulbs. These rotate in a counter-clockwise direction which gives the appearance of flashing lights every 7.5 seconds. The light from the lighthouse is visible for approximately 21-24 miles.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Haunted Places: Sweet Hollow Road

Sweet Hollow Road is the site of several ghostly legends. The most tragic among them states that a school bus full of children was driving along the Northern State overpass bridge above Sweet Hollow Road on a snowy day. After its driver lost control, the bus skidded off the bridge, killing everyone inside. It is said that if you stop your car under the bridge and put it in neutral the spirits of the deceased children will push you forward.

Another legend involves a day camp which supposedly existed along the road during the 1930s. Some of the children who went to the camp are said to have been abused or even killed, and their spirits can occasionally be seen walking along the road wearing ‘30s clothing, though they quickly vanish. Sweet Hollow Road is also said to be home to a police officer who was shot and killed. His ghost still patrols the street and will pull motorists over from time to time.

The road is also the subject of one of the Mary’s Grave legends. This version takes place centuries after most of the others, but involves a young woman named Mary who suffered a tragic fate. Mary is said to have gotten into a fight with her boyfriend while driving down the road and was then either pushed out of the car by him or jumped out of it herself; in either event, she was quickly hit by oncoming traffic and died. Some say you can still see a lady in white walking along the side of the road, and that she will jump in front of your car when you pass. Mary’s grave and tombstone are also alleged to be located in a small cemetery on Sweet Hollow Road.

Non-human ghosts are also said to haunt Sweet Hollow Road and include a black Labrador, a horse and a mysterious dog-like creature. The ghostly horse has been seen and chased into the woods near the crossroads of Mount Misery Road and Sweet Hollow. Once it enters the woods, it simply vanishes. In addition, there have been sightings of a dog-like creature who digs along where the woods meet the road, then stands on its hind legs and walks back into the woods.


Brosky, Kerriann Flanagan. “Long Island's Legends and Myths - Part III - Sweet Hollow Road.” Stone Mountain-Lithonia, GA Patch, Patch, 12 Nov. 2012,

“Sweet Hollow Road.”,

Sweet Hollow Road,

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Gardiner's Island Mill

Gardiner’s Island Mill in Easthampton was erected on May 23, 1795. It was built by Nathaniel Dominy for Abraham Gardiner for the cost of $773.36. The mill continued to operate until 1900.

The mill stands on a small knoll about three feet above the level of the ground, making it possible to catch some of the wind. This mill is of the hand-operated, top-turning variety, and covered with shingles. It has simple wood batten doors, and shutters on the three stories. A weather vane of sheet metal stands on the roof above the dormer window which has wood shutters hung in a frame, opposite the dormer through which the wind shaft passes.

Grain is taken in on the first floor, and hoisted by hand-windlass through a trap-door in the floor to the second story, where it is fed into hoppers, one for wheat, and the other for corn. This is a "two-stone mill," having the usual two grindstones for each hopper.

It is one of the surviving 18th and 19th Century windmills and the least altered. It was rebuilt in 1815 and the work of that time is some of the most advanced technology found in a Long Island windmill.


“Gardiner’s Island Windmill.” Historic American Engineering Record. April, 1984

Jaray, Cornell. The Mills of Long Island. Ira J. Friedman, Inc., 1962

“Photographs: Written Historical and Descriptive Data, District No. 4.”  Historic American Buildings Survey. June, 1934

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Culper Spy Ring

British forces occupied New York in August 1776, and the city would remain a British stronghold and a major naval base for the duration of the Revolutionary War. Getting information from New York on British troop movements and other plans was critical to General George Washington, there wasn’t a reliable intelligence network that existed on the Patriot side at that time. In 1778, a cavalry officer named Benjamin Tallmadge established a small group of trustworthy men and women from his hometown of Setauket, Long Island. Known as the Culper Spy Ring, Tallmadge’s network would become the most effective of any intelligence-gathering operation on either side during the Revolutionary War.

Tallmadge recruited only those whom he could absolutely trust, beginning with his childhood friend, the farmer Abraham Woodhull, and Caleb Brewster. Tallmadge went by the code name John Bolton, while Woodhull went by the name of Samuel Culper. Woodhull, who ran the group’s day-to-day operations on Long Island, traveled back and forth to New York collecting information and observing naval maneuvers there. Dispatches would then be given to Brewster, who would carry them across the Sound to Fairfield, Connecticut, and Tallmadge would then pass them on to Washington.
In the summer of 1779, Woodhull had recruited another man, the well-connected New York merchant Robert Townsend, to serve as the ring’s primary source in the city. Townsend wrote his reports as “Samuel Culper, Jr.” and Woodhull went by “Samuel Culper, Sr.” Austin Roe, a tavern keeper in Setauket who acted as a courier for the Culper ring traveled to Manhattan with the excuse of buying supplies for his business. A local Setauket woman and Woodhull’s neighbor, Anna Smith Strong, was also said to have aided in the spy ring’s activities. She reportedly used the laundry on her clothesline to leave signals regarding Brewster’s location for meetings with Woodhull.

The Culper Ring employed several methods of spycraft in its operations. In addition to providing his agents with code names, Tallmadge devised a cipher system for their intelligence reports. Key words and terms were encoded as a three-digit number based upon their position in John Entick’s The New Spelling Dictionary, a popular work of the day. Those reports were also written with invisible ink that required a special chemical compound to be brushed over it to reveal the writing. Moreover, the reports were frequently embedded in letters addressed to notorious Tory sympathizers on Long Island as an additional step to prevent their seizure by British troops inspecting material carried by Culper agents.

The Culper Spy Ring has been credited with uncovering information involving the treasonous correspondence between Benedict Arnold and John Andre, chief intelligence officer under General Henry Clinton, commander of the British forces in New York, who were conspiring to give the British control over the army fort at West Point.

The exploits of this ring were turned into a television series called “Turn; Washington’s Spies,” which aired for four seasons on AMC.


“The Culper Spy Ring.”, A&E Television Networks, 2010,

Gould, Kevin. “Culper Spy Ring.” Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, Inc., 6 May 2016,

Friday, August 10, 2018

Camp Upton

Camp Upton was built in 1917 as an induction and training facility for new soldiers who were to fight in World War I. The camp was named after Major General Emory Upton, a Union general in the Civil War. Construction began in the summer of 1917. When the first men arrived on September 10th, two-thirds of the camp had yet to be completed. The new soldiers were put side by side with the laborers to help complete the camp. On December 20th, the camp was officially declared complete, and turned over to Camp Commander Major General J. Franklin Bell.

In October, General Bell put into action a sixteen-week training program, which included almost every aspect of infantry combat. French and British officers were brought to the U.S. and instructed the men in tank, trench and gas warfare. The draftees trained in the use of hand grenades and machine guns, and professional boxers taught the men hand-to-hand combat.

From these raw recruits came the nucleus of the 77th Division. Officially formed before the first draftee arrived in camp, the 77th was to gain recognition for its valor at the Argonne Forest in August of 1918.

With the war's end in November of 1918, Upton's use was limited. The camp served as a demobilization site for returning veterans, but the Army soon decided that Camp Upton was of no further use, and it was deactivated.

In 1944, Camp Upton was used as a hospital to treat wounded veterans of the war.  It also served as a Prisoner of War Camp, when in May of 1945, 500 German prisoners were sent to Camp Upton.

In 1947, the camp was replaced by Brookhaven National Laboratory, to conduct scientific research. The lab remains in operation to this day as a multi-program national laboratory operated by Brookhaven Science Associates for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  It currently staffs 3,000 scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff as well as over 4,000 guest researchers annually.


“Camp Upton.” BNL Blood Drives: 56 Facts,

Genealogy, Long Island. “CampUpton.” History of Hempstead Village,

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Frank Buck’s Jungle Camp/Massapequa Zoo and Kiddie Park

Frank Buck was a household name on Long Island from the 1920s through the 1940s. He was a renowned animal hunter and collector of exotic animals for circuses. He also starred in a few movies. At the World’s Fair in Chicago, he set up an exhibit of the animals he had collected in his travels. When the fair closed, he moved the entire camp to Long Island.

Frank Buck’s Jungle Camp was forty acres and housed lions, elephants, tigers, monkeys, reptiles, and other wild animals. Many of the animals came from the collection of Charles W. Beall. One of the main attraction was Monkey Mountain, a seventy-five foot tall exhibit at the center of the property.

The Camp contained multiple buildings on the property including a three-story Tudor Style building--the Frank Buck Hotel--as well as other restaurants and stores. Above all, Buck’s Jungle Camp housed hundreds of exotic animals including lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys, and reptiles, among others. The Camp’s animals became an important feature of the community and live animals like elephants were brought to galas and society events in nearby towns to help boost publicity and ticket sales. In addition to functioning as a zoo and amusement center, the Camp served as a holding center for exotic animals coming into New York from Buck’s expeditions before being sent to other zoos and circuses. The Camp was a hit with the press and often was written about in newspapers such as the New York Times, which discussed all different types of topics, such as new arrivals and animal births in the compound.

In 1943, the camp was not able to sustain itself anymore and the animals were shipped to public and private zoos across the country. In the 1950s, the Grimaldi family bought the remaining property and renamed it Sunrise Kiddie Land and Animal Farm. It was renamed the Massapequa Zoo and Kiddie Park a year later. This six-acre zoo had kiddie rides and animals. Local residents can recall that the Massapequa Drive In was located adjacent to the zoo from 1950 until 1968; before the zoo closed, visitors to the Drive-In purchased their tickets near Monkey Mountain and monkeys could be seen from car windows.

The zoo remained open until 1965 when the property was sold to a developer to make additional parking space for a shopping center.  The Westfield Sunrise Mall now occupies this site.


Berman, Marisa L. Historic Amusement Parks of Long Island. The History Press, 2015.

Pallone, Jillian. “Frank Buck: Bring ‘Em Back Alive.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sagamore Hill

When Theodore Roosevelt had finished college and was beginning to start a family, he thought that the best possible place to settle with his wife and to raise children would be Oyster Bay. He purchased farmland in Cove Neck, a peninsula just east of Oyster Bay village and envisioned building a large, sturdy, modern home. He hired New York City architects Lamb and Rich to design such a house, and construction based on their Queen Anne-style sketches began in 1884.

Plans for the house were nearly halted due to the sudden death of Roosevelt's young wife Alice in February 1884. She had died just two days after giving birth to a daughter who was named Alice after her. Family members convinced Roosevelt that despite the tragedy of his wife's death, he would still need a proper home for his baby daughter, and he soon decided to go ahead with the house construction.

In 1886 Roosevelt became re-acquainted with Edith Kermit Carow, a friend of his sister's whom he had known since he was six. It took them very little time to resume an earlier relationship and to become engaged. After they were married, Roosevelt and his second wife Edith took up full-time residency at Sagamore Hill in 1887. The couple would raise a total of six children in the house and, over the next 30 years, they would experience some of the most memorable and cherished moments of their lives there.

The most significant events took place at Sagamore Hill during the seven summers it served as Theodore Roosevelt's Summer White House, from 1902 until 1908. During that time, Roosevelt used his home to host luminaries from around the country and around the world.

Theodore Roosevelt died at Sagamore Hill on January 6, 1919 when he was sixty years old. Ted Roosevelt, eldest son of the president, hoped eventually to take over the house and to raise his family in it. However his mother Edith wanted to remain in the old house, and she gave Ted a few acres of land on which to build a new one (eventually known as Old Orchard house). Despite extensive travels in her later years, Edith always came back to the old house at Sagamore Hill. She died there in September 1948 at the age of eighty-seven.

Named after the Indian chief Sagamore Mohannis, Sagamore Hill stands atop Cove Neck on 95 acres of forest, tidal salt marsh, and bay beach; land which was purchased in 1880 for $10,000 down and a 20-year, $20,000 mortgage. The house itself is a sprawling 23 room, two-floored, Victorian styled building, with a massive 30 x 40 grand room known as the North Room where Roosevelt kept his trophies, books, paintings, sculptures, library, and dozens of priceless artifacts given to him by foreign dignitaries.

The first floor contains the large center hall, library, dining room, kitchen, and drawing room. The house is surrounded by a spacious raised porch shaded by an unmistakable green awning. The second floor contains the bedrooms, nursery, guest rooms, and a turn of the century water closet with a uniquely large porcelain tub.

After Edith Roosevelt passed away in 1948, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association acquired the home in 1950 and undertook a significant restoration, adding a porch, which the National Park Service recently removed. In 2015, hundreds of specialists restored and refurbished the interior while ensuring the exterior was reinforced and ready to stand for decades. From repairing the roof, gutters and woodwork and installing a new LED lighting system to replacing all 98 windows and reapplying period-specific wallpaper, the project brought the home up to date, while making sure that guests only see what Theodore Roosevelt saw. Since acquiring the home in 1963, this project was the Park Service's first true deep dive into the largest presidential home it oversees, which gave those working there a greater appreciation of the Oyster Bay mansion's unique character.


“History & Culture.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,

“Sagamore Hill - Home of Theodore Roosevelt - Roosevelt Almanac.” The Man in the Arena - April 23, 1910 - Theodore Roosevelt Speeches- Roosevelt Almanac, 1 Mar. 2010,

Sisson, Patrick. “Magnificent $10M Restoration of Teddy Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill Home Exemplifies Peak Taxidermy.” Curbed, Curbed, 14 July 2015,

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Nunley's Amusement Park - Baldwin

William Nunley chose the spot for his kiddie park in Baldwin due to its accessibility by public transport. It was located across from a Long Island Railroad stop. The site was originally home to the restaurant the Dutch Mill and a carousel pavilion. In 1947, additional rides were added and it became a true amusement park. This small park featured rides geared for young children.

The first roller coaster was designed by the Pinto brothers until the mid-1950’s. It was then replaced with a new coaster designed by B. A. Schiff & Associates. A miniature golf course was added to the park in 1961.  The most iconic element of Nunley’s Amusement part was the beloved 1912 Stein and Goldstein carousel. Nunley’s Carousel was created in 1912 by the Stein and Goldstein Artistic Carousell Co. of Brooklyn New York. The carousel was installed on the Brooklyn waterfront in Canarsie’s Golden City Park where it was known as “Murphy’s” carousel and operated for 26 years. In  the Spring of 1940, it reopened as Nunley's Carousel

The most memorable feature of the carousel was the rung grab, Children could reach out and snatch a rung. If they got a brass ring, they won a free ride. The carousel remained in Baldwin until the park closed in 1995. It was originally scheduled to go up for auction, but Nassau County purchased the carousel so it could remain in the community. It remained in storage from 1995-2007. A local nine-year olf girl began a fundraising program called “Pennies for Ponies” to raise the necessary funds to restore the carousel. It was moved to its current location in Museum Row in Garden City in 2009.


Berman, Marisa L. Historic Amusement Parks of Long Island. The History Press, 2015

“Historic Nunley's Carousel on Museum Row.” Cradle of Aviation Museum,

Friday, June 8, 2018

Republic Airport

Republic Airport was developed by Sherman Fairchild as the Fairchild Flying Field in East Farmingdale in late 1927 as his airplane and airplane engine factories and 10-acre flying field on Motor Avenue in South Farmingdale were inadequate to support the mass assembly line production he desired for his FC-2, Model 21, Model 41 and Model 71 airplanes. Fairchild's Faircam Realty, Inc. purchased property on the south side of Route 24-Conklin Street and had the Fairchild Flying Field's original layout plan prepared on November 3, 1927. Airplane manufacturing in Farmingdale originated with Lawrence Sperry in the village of Farmingdale in 1917 and continued in South Farmingdale from 1921 until his tragic death in December 1923.

During World War II, 1-19 was Republic's longest runway- stretching almost to Route 109. Conklin Street at Republic was closed to the public in January 1941 by the Suffolk County Highway Department to permit the construction of the massive Republic industrial complex.  In 1942, Republic Aviation built a 900' "dogleg" around the factory after Ranger Engine had built in the Conklin Street roadbed. The "dogleg" allowed workers in carpools driving east access to the Southern State Parkway via New Highway. Conklin Street was re-opened to the public in 1965 when Republic was taken over by Fairchild Hiller. The cumbersome "dogleg" was ended in the late 1990's when the Republic factory complex was razed and Conklin Street was straightened.

In 1965, Fairchild Hiller Corporation acquired Republic Airport and sold it to Farmingdale Corporation. In December 1966, the airport became a general aviation airport. By March 1967, the airport was of interest to the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority as a means of meeting demands of aviation on Long Island. Recognizing the airport as an asset, Metropolitan Transportation Authority two years later acquired the airport at the cost of $25 Million.

The MTA installed an instrument landing system (ILS) on runway 14-32, built the Republic Airport Terminal building cooperated with the Federal Aviation Administration, which built the new 100' high control tower, convinced the US Government to transfer 94 acres to the airport in 1971, and purchased the 77-acre Lambert property on the north side of Route 109 and the Breslau Gardens property between New Highway and Route 109 in 1972. 

After complaints that the MTA was not contributing taxes to local governments and questions about MTA deficits at Republic, ownership of the airport was transferred to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) by the New York State Legislature in April 1983.

Companies that have existed at the Airport:

The Fulton Truck Company was the earliest manufacturer at the airport
Years Active: 1916-1925

Sherman Fairchild chose the new location for his company after surveying the site by air.
Years Active: 1925 -1931

Sherman Fairchild started his engine company
Years Active: 1928 -1955

Leroy Grumman moved from Valley Stream To Farmingdale 
Years Active (at the airport): 1932-1937

Alexander De Seversky founded a new aircraft company
Years Active 1935-1939

Seversky was dismissed from the company and the board of directors re-named it Republic Aviation
Years Active 1939-1965

Fairchild-Hiller Corporation
Years Active 1965-1972

Fairchild Republic Corporation
Years Active 1972-1987


“New – LI Republic airports.” Google Sites.

Republic Airport - Long Island's Executive Airport – History.

Friday, June 1, 2018

South Oaks Hospital

On March 1, 1881, a group of men met to discuss plans to form The Long Island Home Hotel for Nervous Invalids. Among the original founders were David S. S. Sammis, Adolphus G. Bailey, Townsend Cox, William Blake, Stephen R. Williams, Prince H. Foster, and Daniel J. Runyon. On April 12, 1881, these Trustees met at the Grand Union Hotel in New York City and agreed to purchase 14 acres of land in Amityville.

The first patient was admitted on January 26, 1882. In 1894, physician-in-charge Dr.  O. J. Wilsey’s emphasis on keeping up with the times resulted in the construction of a separate cottage built to accommodate seven patients. The Villa was opened in 1895 and was later renamed Sammis Cottage. This same cottage was later renamed Hope House.

In 1948, Griffing Hall (named for Board Member, Robert P. Griffing) was erected with offices for administration, doctors, social services, admissions and medical records.

In the 1950’s, The Long Island Home transitioned from a long-stay sanitarium to a psychiatric hospital. At that time, the hospital became known as South Oaks Hospital was born. In 1952, the Board of Directors decided to convert Searle Cottage into a nursing home. This facility was renamed Broadlawn Manor Nursing Home.

In July 1970, South Oaks established Hope House, a specialized inpatient unit for young men and women who were addicted to drugs. In March 1971, recognizing the needs of adolescents with emotional problems, the hospital opened an Adolescent Pavilion for young people between the ages of 13 and 20. In 1972, South Oaks set up a Training Program for Alcoholism Counseling. The Institute of Alcohol Studies at South Oaks was formed in 1972 and was chartered by the Board of Regents of the New York State Education Department.

In June 1980, South Oaks established Sage House, a rehabilitative program for young men aged 13 to 20 who had a history of abusing more than one drug, in combination with alcohol. In 1981, South Oaks conducted an extensive study and three-part program on compulsive gambling. With the advent of this program, South Oaks became one of the first hospitals in the country to offer services for compulsive gamblers and their families.

In 1995, Broadlawn Manor opened its medical model and social model daycare programs to support the frail and elderly during the day while allowing them to remain active in the community.


“History.” The Long Island Home.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Farmingdale State College

Farmingdale State College, originally designed to accommodate upper-level high school students in agricultural training, was founded in 1912 under the name of New York State School of Agriculture on Long Island.  The school has also be named: the New York Institute of Applied Agriculture, the Long Island Agricultural and Technical Institute, SUNY Agricultural and Technical Institute, SUNY Agricultural and Technical College, SUNY at Farmingdale, SUNY College of Technology at Farmingdale, and SUNY College of Technology at Farmingdale.

The founding of the College was originally proposed by State Assemblyman John Lupton in 1909. Lupton Hall, which houses the departments of Chemistry and Physics as well the School of Engineering Technology, now bears his name. The bill to create the school was originally vetoed by Governor Dix. With the lobbying efforts of Franklin W. Hooper, John Lupton, Frederick Cox, Hal Fullerton, James Cooley, and C. H. Howell, the bill was passed to create the school.

The earliest years of the college were devoted to the technology of farming – both farm crops and dairy and animal husbandry. The early curriculum consisted of courses in agronomy, horticulture, and general studies.

In 1920, the college began a farm equipment show that included the various kinds of machinery that would be used on a farm. In 1987, the agricultural programs were discontinued; only Ornamental Horticulture remains. The school became a four-year college in 1990. In 1946, the mission of the college expanded to include technical education.

Hicks and Cutler Halls were originally called the Horticulture and Agronomy Buildings. They were both constructed in 1914.  Ward Hall was constructed in 1914, this building served as a dormitory for over 40 years. Thompson Hall, named after Senator George Thompson, was built in 1938. It was originally the Administration building, housing the Director's Office, the main office, the library, animal husbandry laboratories, and some classrooms.

Dr. Franklin W. Hooper, the namesake of Hooper Hall, was the Director of the Institute of Arts and Sciences, Brooklyn, NY. In 1911, he called a meeting of his colleagues to discuss the establishment of a School of Agriculture on Long Island

Horton Hall was named for D. Hart Horton, and early Professor of Poultry Science. Built in 1936, Knapp Hall was dedicated on October 20, 1937, by then Governor Herbert H. Lehman. The Director's Cottage was built in 1914.

Mott House was owned by the Mott family, one of the families who sold land to the college to become part of the original campus. The house served as a women's dormitory for many years. It is no longer in existence.


“Campus Buildings- Past, Present, Future.” Farmingdale State College,

Cavaioli, Frank J. State University of New York, Farmingdale. Arcadia Publishing, 1999.

“Farmingdale State College.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 May 2018,

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Massapequa "Haunted" House

For decades, a Massapequa home has been the center of tall tales and teenage rite-of-passage visits. The owners call it Cafaro Castle. The house’s legend stem from its looks. The house is bright red with gothic trimmings along with turrets and an iron fence. One of the more common rumors is that the curtains are made from coffin liners. Another one is that the number of candles in the window represent the amount of people in your car and seeing them will bring misfortunes. There’s a persistent tale of a horse-drawn hearse in the backyard.

While neighbors have noted that there are residents in the house, there is little activity throughout the course of a normal day. The surrounding homes on the block carry on with daily activities as if there wasn’t a large, brick mansion across the street; complete with turrets, a “bleeding” maroon sidewalk and a hearse parked in the driveway, barred behind an eight foot tall wrought iron fence that is perpetually chained. Several overgrown trees block some of the house from view.

The design of the house is architecturally symmetrical, down to the 25 plus windows that evoke a grinning devil face. The curtains are drawn at all times and are said to be coffin linings. Legend has it that candles suddenly illuminate in the upstairs window when cars drive by the house. Supposedly, the number of candles in the window corresponds to the number of people in the car, and it is said to be very bad luck for those who see the candles.

Some say that the residents belong to a Satanist cult who chant behind closed doors. Others claim to have seen people emerge from the house, dressed head to toe in Gothic black.

Of course, the reality is, none of this is true. A normal family lives at the house.


“Haunted Houses In Massapequa.” Massapequa Observer, 14 Oct. 2016,

Leita, John. Long Island Oddities: Curious Locales, Unusual Occurrences, and Unlikely Urban Adventures. The History Press, 2013

Friday, April 20, 2018

William Flloyd Estate

Richard Floyd, first appeared in American records in the late 1660s as a leading landowner on the North Shore of Long Island, first in Huntington, then in Setauket.

A half-century later, in 1718, his son Richard Floyd II (1665-1738), bought over 4,400 acres of property from William "Tangier" Smith of the Manor of Saint George. The property stretched six miles north from Moriches Bay and approximately one mile west from the Mastic or Forge River. It included use rights for the Great South Beach on what is now Fire Island. Richard Floyd II gave this property to his youngest son, Nicoll Floyd.

The first Floyd to live on the estate, Nicoll Floyd built the first portion of the "Old Mastic House" in 1724, constructing a two-story, six-room shingled wood frame house. He developed the land into a prosperous plantation, using both slave and free laborers to raise grain, flax, sheep, and cattle. Nicoll Floyd expanded the home as his wealth and his family grew. Nicoll Floyd's oldest son, William Floyd inherited the property in 1755 at the age of 20.

General William Flloyd was born in Mastic Neck on December 17, 1734. He was an officer of the Suffolk County Militia for years, and in 1775, he was a Colonel in the First Suffolk Regiment. At the end of the Revolutionary War, he received a commission as a Major General. He served a shirt term in the Provincial Assembly of New York and was delegated to the Fist Continental Congress at Philadelphia.  He became one of the signer of the Declaration of Indepedence, He was a State Senator from 1777-1783 and again from 1784-1788.

He retired, leaving his home in Mastic Neck to his children. The house was sheltered on all sides by dense wood growth. The oldest part was built around 1724. Additions were made at an early date, so the house is virtually the same as when the General lived there.

The Estate was authorized as an addition to Fire Island National Seashore in 1965.  The 25-room "Old Mastic House," the twelve outbuildings, the family cemetery and the 613 acres of forest, fields, marsh and trails all graphically illuminate the layers of history.


Eberlin, Harold Donaldson. Manor Houses and Historic Homes of Long Island and Staten Island.   Ira J. Friedman, Inc., 1966.

“Historic William Floyd Estate Grounds.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Big Duck

The Big Duck, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, overlooks Reeves Bay in Flanders, Long Island, New York. The vision of Long Island duck farmer Martin Maurer, The Bog Duck was designed by Broadway set designers, the Collins Brothers, and crafted by locals George Reeve, John Smith, and Merlin Yeager in 1931. A live duck, attached to the porch of the Maurer’s home, was used as a model and Reeve used the skeleton of a cooked chicken to study how the interior architecture should be constructed.

The Big Duck was built in Riverhead as a shop to sell ducks and eggs. It was then moved to the Maurer Duck Farm in Flanders in 1936, where it remained for 52 years. In 1988, Kia and Pouran Eshghi, who had hoped to build condominiums on the property, purchased the land and the duck was quickly moved to the Sears Bellows County Park in Hampton Bays. In October 2007, the Big Duck returned to its former home of Flanders.  When the Big Duck moved from its home in Hampton Bays, it left behind a 125-pound cement egg in its nest – an old storage cellar covered with straw. The Big Duck’s big egg was made by Ronkonkoma sculptor Dick Fleig.

The bird stands 20 feet tall, and is 30 feet long and 18 feet wide. It weighs 20,000 pounds. Cement covers the duck’s wood and wire frame. The bird is painted white, save for its bright orange beak. Model-T Ford taillights were used for the duck’s eyes.

Roadside architecture designed to promote what is sold inside is now commonly known as "Duck Architecture", in honor of the whimsical grand-daddy of them all. The architectural term “duck” is used to describe buildings that are shaped after the object to which they relate. It was coined by architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.

Supermodel Christie Brinkley, recorded a 2-minute recording detailing some of the history of the duck in 1991.


Uda, Rachel. “85 Years of Long Island's Big Duck.” Newsday, Newsday, 2 Sept. 2016,

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cast Iron Eagles of Grand Central Terminal

The eagles were mounted in 1898. It is unknown how many eagles there originally were nor who sculpted them. Each eagle has a fourteen-foot wingspan and weighs a ton and a half. They were removed in 1910 when the building was razed to make room for the present-day Grand Central Terminal. The eagles were moved the various places:

Two eagles ended in Mount Vernon.  One was sold to Daily News photographer David McLane in 1966 and the other was removed to an unknown location. The rest of the eagles are placed as follows:

Capuchin Seminary in Garrison, NY, overlooking the Hudson River

St. Basil’s Academy in Cold Spring, NY houses two eagles

The Vanderbilt Museum in Northport, NY houses two eagles at its entrance

A house in Bronxville, NY

A private estate in Kings Point, NY

The Philipse Manor-North Tarrytown Railroad Station, NY

David McLane wanted the eagle he purchased to be placed in a location where it could be seen and enjoyed by the public. In 1985, the town of Shandaken, NY adopted the eagle. There was a dedication ceremony for the newly restored eagle on August 23, 1986. McLane went to great lengths to research the eagles history. He contacted museums, libraries, and organizations, but never solved the mystery behind who created the Eagles.

On March 23, 1997, the Westchester Gannet Newspapers published a story about the Bronxville eagle. The writer mentioned there may have been eleven original eagles. It seemed the eleventh eagle may be located right in Tarrytown. The owner of the property of the time. John Daniell Jr.  When he died, the property was sold to John Perry. After further investigation, this specific eagle was not a Grand Central Station eagle.

The Bronxville eagle was moved from its home and installed at the Lexington Avenue entrance to Grand Central Terminal in 1998. The Garrison eagle was also moved and was installed above the terminal’s southwest entrance at 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.


Morrison, David D. The Cast Iron Eagles of Grand Central Station. Cannonball Publications, 1998.