Now known as the Sands-Willets House, the home of the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society, this is a very rare view of the house when it was only 20 years old, in the 1870s. There is no street in front of the house, of course, as the Willet’s property encompassed many dozens of acres. Difficult to see without magnification is the horse & buggy & mystery person in front of the Sands portion of the house (lower/smaller portion at the left):
In December, we decorate the porch for the holidays, in advance of our Holiday Fair.
Do you know anyone who likes quilts? If so, step inside…
See the new quilt exhibit:
The Art of Quilting:
Fibers, Fabrics & Fashion
Above is a beautiful view of the southeast bedroom on the second floor, adorned with a few of the more-than fifty quilts that decorate the entire Sands-Willets house from top to bottom. [This is the upper right hand corner room when you face the house].
If you missed our Holiday Fair, you’ll have another chance to tour the house and view our fabulous new exhibit "The Art of Quilting: Fibres, Fabrics & Fashion", one of the finest groupings of quilts on display anywhere on Long Island. Sundays in January and February at 2pm sharp. These are fun and informative tours featuring dozens of beautiful quilts dating back to the 1830’s. Here are a few more:
We're ensuring our future by preserving our past. Please join Port Washington's historical society. As a registered 501c3 not-for-profit organization we need your support, and truly appreciate your generous support.
Growing up in Port Washington in the 60’s and 70’s, it was always just "The Guggenheim Estate”. Although it had been built by Howard Gould, and reportedly modeled after the castles of Kilkenny, Ireland which had been visited on his honeymoon, the property was sold to Daniel Guggenheim in 1917. Daniel christened the 228 foot wide castle overlooking Long Island Sound, Hempstead House and you can see its imposing structure in our first rare photograph, up on the hill. The building on the right, dubbed “The Casino”, is long gone.
Below is a close-up from the estate-side entry drive, looking very much as it looks today.
Would you like to go inside? Read on!
Daniel’s son Harry was given 90 acres on the 220+ acre estate on which he built his own home Falaise in 1923. Harry befriended aviator Charles Lindbergh in the mid 1920’s and when Lindburgh needed a quiet place to write his autobiography - - his 1927 trans-Atlantic ocean flight made him the biggest celebrity in the world - - Harry invited him to stay on the estate. Harry backed his third wife’s ambitions to start a newspaper, and Alicia Patterson and Harry founded Newsday.
An archival view of Hempstead House from the Long Island Sound side. Incredibly beautiful rose gardens, formal plantings and two beautiful fountains now grace the lawn. Did I mention you can visit?
From the Sands Point Preserve’s website, we learn:
"In its heyday in the 1920s, Hempstead House revealed a taste for extravagance. In the Entry Foyer was an organ made of oak. Medieval tapestries once hung on the walls, and oriental carpets covered the floor. The sunken Palm Court once contained 150 species of rare orchids and other plants. An aviary housed exotic birds in ornate cages among the flowers. The walnut-paneled Library was copied from the palace of King James I; The Billiard Room featured a gold leaf ceiling, hand-tooled leather wall coverings, and carved oak woodwork from a 17th century Spanish palace."
This archival postcard shows the view of Castle Gould across the massive lawn from Hempstead House, which was originally a stables. The building on the right is now the Phil Dejana Learning Center.
Hempstead House, and most of the rest of the property, passed to the Navy department early in WWII, becoming the Navy Special Devices Center for several decades. The Navy painted the entire interior battleship gray (!), and then moved to Florida in 1967. Disrepair set in, until the property was rescued, first by Nassau County, New York’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums. In 2003, much of its care was taken over by the Friends of Sands Point Preserve who have brought the property back to life.
For many Port Washington families, back to school includes Back-To-Sports, closely followed by our own Port Washington football teams, long known as the Vikings. Back before all of our time, when the high school was at Main Street School (Landmark on Main Street), Port had a serious looking football team, shown below. If you think you recognize a grand-father, or great grandfather, check out the names in the 2nd picture. Click on the photo to enlarge it in a new window. (photographs courtesy Helen Morgan Vogt)
QUESTION: Did you grow up playing sports in and around Port Washington, once upon known as Cow Neck? Where did you you go to school? Do you have any artifacts from your school days that you don't know what to do with? Our friend Carole McDonald Gilmore recently contributed items from Flower Hill School, now on exhibit in the new School exhibit in the Wysong Room at the Sands-Willets house. Consider your town's historical society as a home for your own momentos, from matchbooks and menus, to photographs and home movies around town, which should all be saved for posterity.
Please leave your comments on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cnphs
September, 2013: Back to School !!!
In advance of our plans for a 2014 exhibition on our local schools, here is a run-down of most of the schools that have served Port Washington, up until through World War II.
The town's first church and school were at the back of the Mill Pond, across from the Dodge Homestead, near the entrance to the new Mill Pond Acres. Pleasant Avenue started between these two historic structures and ran up and over the hill.
Shown in its original location on the north side of School street, above the Mill Pond, this is the oldest known photograph of a school in Port Washington, probably taken about 1875. It replaced the school at the bottom of Pleasant Avenue (shown above). The structure is mostly still there, without the beautiful cuploa, though it is now a private two-family home on the south side of the street. You can read this school's fascinating history in our current Journal, available to members for free (and the public at our Fall Country Fair, Saturday, September 21 (rain date 9/22))
The little school house above was moved to make way for a larger school, as the town was growing at the turn of the 20th century. The new school was often called the Down Neck School, and was later renamed the Sands Point school. This image doesn't show the Mill Pond well, BUT does show Diwan (our Indian restaurant, formerly Gildo's, Winstons, and a dozen other names), in the lower right corner. Also in the background are some early sandbanks, which stretched up past Sandy Hollow Road and which covered all of Soundview until that community was developed between 1960 and 1966.
Here's another view of the school, looking directly across the Mill Pond.
A close-up of the same school, shown in a beautifully hand colored postcard.
Shown below, at the other end of town, the "Up-Neck" side, was our early Flower Hill school, on the site of the current Police Station. To the right was the Onderdonk Farm, part of which was purchased for a cemetery in 1900 (now Nassau Knolls cemetery).
After the Long Island Rail Road arrived in 1898 the population began to grow rapidly, creating a need for a bigger central school. This 1907 view shows Main Street school under construction, across the street from our current Public Library. Note that the front of the school, the broad side on the right side of this photograph, faces South Washington Avenue, not Main Street. This is the original building, before the 1917 expansion to come.
Opening Day ceremonies, September 1908. This was the biggest event the town had seen since the coming of the railroad. A huge parade wound its way through town ending up at the wonderfully decorated school. Other views in our archives showed many people in the crowd holding umbrellas to fend off the strong September sun.
Another view, from the corner of South Washington and Webster Avenue. Note the right side of the building in this photograph (facing Webster) on the second floor: Three windows, then a peaked window, then three more windows. Got it? Check out the next shot.
You can still see the three window, the peaked window, and three more windows, plus the rest of the tremendous expansion, completed in 1917, brought on by the continued explosion of the population. Thanks to a great many very dedicated people in this town, our history was preserved when this building was converted to Landmark On Main Street, with a booming theater program, a pre-school full of children learning, senior housing on the upper floors, a beautiful park, and much more. Other individuals in town wanted to tear down the building and build a parking lot here. Imagine a three story parking lot there today...
A very rare view, pre-extension, from the park side, showing a side of the building that can't be seen any longer, due to the 1917 expansion. The fire house on South Washington can be seen in the lower left corner.
Finally, as the town's pre WWII expansion reached into Beacon Hill, Monfort Hills, the Park Section, and Port Washington Heights, another school was needed. Flower Hill School and Weber were built to satisfy that need, which sufficed through WWII, until the now famous baby boom needed a great many grammer schools scattered around town, plus a new high school in 1953. But those are stories for another day!
We all know that the Port Washington Peninsula was once known as Cow Neck. Most of us who grew up here swam in the local waters "back in the day", either at Bar Beach, Manorhaven Beach, Half Moon Beach or even off the back of a friend's boat in Manhasset Bay or Hempstead Harbor. Here are a few images
Bar Beach was a hopping place up until the late 1960's, when the quality of the water started to turn sour. The Clean Water Act of 1972 started to turn that trend around. Manorhaven Pool, built in the late 1960's was also a huge draw away from the local beaches.
Here, is the famous (some would say infamous) Half Moon Beach, in Sands Point!
In the really, really old days, people went "bathing" down near the site of the present Town Dock, as seen below.
And here's the other wonderfully historic shot. You are standing on the end of the Town Dock, when it was known as the "Public Dock", before the Town of North Hempstead took it over. The wooden dock isn't wide, hasn't been expanded toward what is now Louise's, and you are looking back towards Bradley's, the most famous restaraunt in town. There is no Sunset Park (yet), and the land that now makes up that beautiful park (with the Sousa Bandshell) hasn't been filled in yet. Boys in their one piece bathing outfits are having fun, just the same as they do today.
The 1960's are a part of our town's history, just as much as the coming of the Long Island Rail Road in 1898. For those of you who might remember living and shopping in Port Washington in the 1960's, I ask for the names of the stores on Port Washington Blvd., starting with Derian Cleaners. Next door there was a hardware store, where my dad brought me almost every Saturday to get this or that, before Home Depot was a glimmer in anyone's eye. And the hardware store's name was… … Well we could make a game of this, so either read on or just look at the picture closely. Some of the names are below, and your help is hereby solicited!
Yes, it was Cromwell Hardware, who later took over the Toy Store next door. Hilltop Toys, to be specific, where kids shopped for birthday present, models and hobby supplies, balsa wood airplanes, and lots of things your allowance couldn't quite purchase. Then the Pamper Shop (send me a description or memory and I'll post it here). Two shops are hidden behind the tree that I can't make out once of which might have been Joe Lerner's Card Shop. Bilt-RIte… was this a shoe store? Then an Art Gallery. Then Vanity Fair (again, a description needed). Some small store comes next, then Rogers, a large clothing store with the girls clothes on the ground floor and the boys clothes in the lower level (basement). This was only one of two stores that had a downstairs on this strip, I believe. Remember the other? I think the Club House was next, and the last storefront in this photograph. Or maybe it was The Card Shop. Not sure where the bike store originally was… maybe behind the tree, or maybe further up near Weber's Bakery, the luncheonette, or the A&P Grocery Store (where Rite Aid is today). Not so distant history. Send us your memories and we'll share them here, and on our Facebook page.
This is relatively recent history, but our collective history just the same. We're ensuring our future by preserving our past. Please join your town's historical society. We would truly appreciate your support.
Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 21, for our Fall Country Fair at the historic Sands-Willets House.
And thanks for spending a few minutes of your day with us!
Chris Bain, president
Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society
You are standing on Main Street around 1915, just a few doors east from where Dunkin Donuts stands today (a few doors towards the Post Office, that is). You are looking towards the train station, just beyond the Flower Hill Cigar Store, which is owned by H. Neilsen. What we know as Main Street today was just a dirt road known as Flower Hill Avenue, and many stores took their name from it, including the Flower Hill Bakery, which you can see on the far right side. The train station was set back from the road even back then to allow cars and horses to drop off or pick up people traveling to the city or points in-between. The trolley just came up its tracks from the terminus, in front of The Anchorage Hotel and the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, and is headed toward Mineola. Operated by the New York & North Shore Traction Company, you could change in Mineola and board another trolley to Hicksville or Flushing or Whitestone. The trolley is blocking the view of the magnificent Victoria Hotel, which stood on the corner where Starbucks is today.
Here is a better view of Mr. Neilsen's Flower Hill Cigar Store, taken from in front of the where the Fleming Building had its unfortunate fire a few months ago. The Cigar Store is on the spot where Port Washington Cleaners now stands, then known as Station Square. "Horton's Ice Cream" was the featured treat, it would seem. The train station would be just to the right, so this is prime commercial real estate, circa 1905-1920. At the back of the right side of the store is a bicycle shop... where Deluxe Taxi is currently headquartered. Funny how that spot featured up to date transportation even back then! Look carefully to see the roofline on the left (which has been extended) and the corner door (which has been added).
Pivot your head to the right, and take a look at the Long Island Rail Road Station, with the beautiful Victoria Hotel peeking through the trees from the corner of Haven Avenue and Main Street (Flower Hill Avenue).
Here's one more: Giner's Port Washington Bakery, before it became the Flower Hill Bakery. Directly across from the train station, you can bet that the Giners and their employees got up very early in the morning to bake bread and simple pastries for the townsfolk. Many people in Port Washington today work similarly long hours. Its important to remember that our past is all around us.
We're ensuring our future by preserving our past. If you'd like to know a bit more about what we're up to, Join Us! It's an inexpensive and truly meaningful way to support your town.
Yes, this is the Dodge Homestead, 100 years ago. There is a guy standing there with a bicycle, which was the most popular mode of transportation at the time, along with the horse, the buggy, and a few of those new fangled auto-mobiles.
Originally, the Dodge lands extended from the Mill Pond all the way to Hempstead Harbor, including most of Harbor Acres. There's a great article in our most recent Journal, written by trustee Glen DeSalvo, detailing much of the Dodge family.
Take a look at the next shot, which we photographed last summer…
Not that much different, is it? We still have the original out-house (a three seater!!!)… and now we have bees, tended by Ross, our bee-keeper. And we still overlook the Mill Pond, where 7 generations of the Dodge family lived, worked, prayed, and raised their families while the little village of Port Washington grew up all around them.
Come visit us on Saturday, May 18th, from 1-5pm. it's free! We're having an open house, with live music, house tours, talks with our bee-keeper, iight refreshments, a few antiques for sale, and model boat racing just across the street. Sit on our lawn chairs. Buy some local honey or pressed-flower cards (made by Evie Fitzsimmons, our 96 year old trustee!).
Consider the history of the town that you know (or are getting to know). Come visit this National Historic Landmark right in your own backyard! Put it on your calendar today, and please stop by.
We're ensuring our future by preserving our past. Join us, and slow down for a few minutes of your busy day!
There is a ton of visual information here, so take your time… Read through to the end of this for a surprise view!
On the top is a beautifully hand-colored postcard, shot from the top of Main Street School (now Landmark on Main Street), looking west toward the water. The lower shot is a similar angle taken last week, on Thursday, March 28th, also from the roof of Landmark. The corner shown is South Washington and Webster Avenue. In the lower right corner of the old shot is a building with a gambrel roofline, which housed the Odd Fellows Society for many years. In the contemporary shot, the blue building is now Berest Dance Center at 12 South Washington. Behind that building in both shots is a firehouse, one very old, one new and state of the art. In the distance in both shots you can see Manhasset Bay Yacht Club.
Now look a bit more to the right… (a tiny bit north)
Trees have obscurred much of the view, but since the spring foliage is still a few weeks away, we can see much of the past in the present. In the lower right corner of the historic photo (circa 1910-1920) is St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, with a house directly in the foreground. These two buildings remain to this day, seen in the view from March 2013. In the center of the historic postcard is a church on Carlton Avenue, which, in the contemporary shot is just to the right of the flag pole with a red roof. Take a careful look around, comparing roof lines or shore lines.
If you've come this far, you deserve two surprises. First, know that if you click on either of the two contemporary shots above (from last week) that they will enlarge in a new window so that you can REALLY see the detail. Just don't forget to come back, because the second surprise is a special view that you've never seen. One that few people have seen. On the morning of March 28th, I was escorted to the roof of the former Main Street School, now Landmark On Main Street. My guide was Craig Alston, the building Superintendent for the past 17 years; Craig knows the building inside and out and he showed me the way to the views I wanted to capture (above), and waited on the roof while I photographed a 360 degree immersive panorama. Once you click on the link below, your browser will redirect you to a view from the Landmark's roof which you can control with your mouse. Just click and drag your mouse a bit left or right or up or down (or slowly swipe your tablet).
When you look downward from the clock tower, you'll see Craig, patiently waiting for me. In the distance you can see the Library, the apartments on Carlton Avenue, the president streets off Webster, and a tremendous amount of Port Washington, the town many of us have called home at some point in our lives. There are even two pigeons watching me from a nearby brick chimney.
If you enjoy what you see, forward the email we sent to a friend or two and suggest that they might want to sign up for these monthly emails. And if you aren't already a member, please consider a membership in your town's historical society.
Now, enjoy the 360 degree, totally immersive panoramic view by clicking here.
Chris Bain, president
Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society
Ahhhh, the Beacon Theater. Newcomers to present day Port Washington might not even remember the movie theater on Main Street's original name, but the rest of us can't forget. The single, huge theater originally had stage shows, a large pipe organ, and boasted their "Gala Stage Attraction". Built in 1926, the movies that would have been shown were silent, with "Talkies" not taking hold until about 1930. The opening drew 600 people to the formal opening celebration, with an admission of 25 cents, quite a bit for those days.
If you have memories of going to The Beacon when you were young, email them to us, and we'll share them on this page. Was it the popcorn? Was it the balconey? Who remembers what storefronts were on either side of the theater? Wasn't there a fur shop on the left side (Barbatsuli & Sedarius?). Do tell…
NOTE: Once upon a time there was another theater on Main Street. The Nassau Theater was on the north side of Main Street, on the vacant lot opposite what is now the McIntyre accounting office, formerly occupied by the American Legion. (Thanks to Everitt J. Hehn for that correction). We have a showbill, and ads for this theater, but have never seen a photograph of it. Do you have one? PLEASE share it with us… email Chris Bain, president, CNPHS.
Spring begins in about 3 weeks, so we're almost there!
MEMORIES OF THE BEACON THEATER:
Thanks to the Port Washington Public Library for this interior photograph of The Beacon:
"How wonderful to see the old Beacon Theatre, especially with those vintage cars out on the street. As a kid in town in the 60's, I remember noticing on the bare bricks of the west side of the theatre (facing the gas station and the funeral home) very faint paint from about 1930, ornately spelling out "WARNER BROS. VITAPHONE--ALL TALKING, ALL SINGING," etc. For at least a decade I was able to point it out to any companion walking with me past Scheur Monuments and Knowles. Could almost hear Al Jolson singing "Mammy." Faded completely away now. In those days there was a large candy store next door to the theatre. Inside the Beacon, red velvet seats is what I remember, and Good n'Plenties"
David Bain, Orwell, Vermont
I still refer to it as The Beacon! The shop on the right was a "sweet shop," My parents shared many fond memories of their time spent there during their courtship in the 40's and the delicious shakes they enjoyed there. It was the after school and Saturday night hangout spot. Much like Greenfield's was for those of us in high school during the 60's.
During the 1970s a friend whose name was Ken Ladner, and I began working on the Beacon's pipe organ, a three manual instrument manufactured by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut. We discovered that the organ was unplayable, and we got permission of the owner (GG Theatres) to try to restore it to playing condition. The main problem was water damage in the organ chambers, which flanked the stage. Cleaning the roof drains stopped the leak, and we began repairing the damaged areas. Eventually, we got the organ playing and Ken began playing for Saturday night intermissions. He was soon joined by my late wife Madeline who shared duties with him as House Organists. Eventually the owner decided to convert the theatre into a multiplex and most of the organ ended up in a dumpster. A few percussion instruments were salvaged and incorporated into a similar organ from the Queens Village Theatre which we removed and reinstalled at Chaminade High School in Mineola. As far as I know, the console is still in the original orchestra pit behind the screen of Theatre No. 1, and the blower is still in the basement.
At the Beacon Theater was the Beacon Sweet Shop with great home-made ice cream. Next to it was the Mason Photo Studio. Further up on the left of the theater entrance at one time John Marino had his jewelry store.
Everitt J. Hehn
How lucky we were to grow up in a town that boasted a movie theater in the center of Main Street. Like David, I remember the candy store attached to the Beacon selling boxes of "rock candy" with the strings still in it. My favorite "in house" treat was the ice cream bon bons!! I remember when "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" was playing there and Betty Davis came to talk on the stage. Also remember seeing "The Fly" and not being able to sleep for weeks after. That was the place to be every Saturday afternoon.
I just love these monthly photos and narratives. Thanks for taking the time to do it. Really terrific idea! I remember the Beacon Luncheonette very well. They used to make their own chocolate that we would buy before going into the movie. Also remember their rock candy. Never ate there, but I remember the soda fountain that served standard diner fare.
Oh my, oh my soooo many memories. The candy store next door---always filled right before the movie was to start. My high school boyfriend, Jerry Conway, was one of the ushers in the Beacon. At 6'6" tall he towered over the "kids". We won't go into "the balcony: and it's special memories. Yes, we saw the Saturday serials and two movies---on going. Lastly I remember my sister ,Ruth, won a pair of roller skates the kind with a key to tighten the skates on to your shoes.. She was ecstatic--I was jealous. Yes, it was a big theatre and you could always meet friends there.
Averil Olsen MacKenzie
There was a candy store to the right of the Beacon Theatre and I remember going there to get a chocolate lollipop that was a chunk of chocolate on a stick. And of course I remember the theatre when it was a single movie theatre with a balcony!
I remember very well the old Beacon Theater and "Petes' Candy Store" next door. It was during the 1940's that I remember so well. I remember Vinnie Nuzzolese and his brother Frank playing the accordion on the stage and having paddleball contests. Also if you were interested in a specific boy and he in you, you'd make plans to meet " 6 rows down and 5 seats in " in the front section". The balcony was for "serious dating". We had dancing, Fridays after school in the the basement of the "Main Street School" our Jr.High School, and often a special boy would ask you to go up to Pete's with him for ice cream. Wow! what good memories.
Helen Morgan Vogt - a clamdigger at heart (even here Colorado)
Great memories of the Beacon Theatre. The Sweet Shop was owned and operated by the parents of Dennis Collorius (spelling ?) who graduated from P.D. Schreiber class of 1971.
Winter in Port Washington! Although Manhasset Bay and the two ponds rarely freeze over these days, once upon a time they did, and in doing so would provide recreation to any hardy souls who could brave the elements. Most of us (of a certain age) remember ice skating on the Mill Pond and Baxter Pond (often referred to as the Duck Pond). There would be fire barrels to warm yourself and hours of fun with your friends. This beautiful color shot came to us through the courtesy of Bruce Jacobs, who found the shots among many his father had photographed (Thanks Bruce, for letting me share this!).
Many decades earlier, Port Washington was home to an ice boating fleet, and the middle image is reportedly of Del Van Wicklen ("Uncle Del" to Helen Vogt) who was the first dockmaster of the Town Dock, and a winning ice boat racer. Way in the background you can see the sand mining trestle, just north of the Mill Pond, about where Stop & Shop is today.
The middle shot shows the town undertaker, a Mr. Sheldon, who reportedly was also one of the town physicians. Enough said!
By the way, the last time the bay froze over enough to support ice boats was about 20 years ago, and I (Chris Bain) was lucky enough to go out to photograph the ice boats that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. I'll see if I can find some of those old Kodachromes and add them to this page. In the meantime, send us your own winter photographs of Port Washington, OR your memories of skating on the Mill Pond, and we'll add them to this page.
Spring begins in about 7 weeks, so hang in there!
Who could forget Carvel? On Port Boulevard, at the bottom of Bar Beach Road and Park Avenue, was one of our town's two great ice cream parlors (the other being Tastee Freez). My family always enjoyed stopping by on the way home from Jones Beach, though just about anytime was the right time for a brown bonnet, a sprinkle cone, a flying saucer, a chocolate/vanila twirl cone, a root beer float, or even a sundae. Did anyone you know work there? I'd love to know who owned it, and any other information about when it was built, opened, or closed. If you'd like to share any thoughts about your favorite Carvel treat, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post them right here within a day or so.
The building is still there today, and houses the Bread & Butter convenience store with much the same lines.
"How I remember Carvel!! And the last day of the season they'd give you 2 for 1 cones. I'd stop on my way home from Flower Hill, get those 2 cones, and try to eat both before they dripped all over the place. Brown Bonnets rule!"
- Marla Freeman