Holiday Beach, LI, NY Searching for a summer retreat (1955) Holiday Beach is just under 5 acres peninsula, about 400 yards long with an average 70 yards width.Purchasing a lot at the Holiday Beach
75 miles east on Long Island, N.Y.
After then we continued further east. In the Ronkonkoma area we heard siren of fire trucks. We followed them. Despite that nothing was visible, the firemen formed a line with all their equipment. Suddenly flames ten feet high came with the wind burning the trees. We instantly jumped in the car and escaped the brush fire. Having this horrible experience, we continued on the Montauk Highway pursuant to the New York Times advertising in its real estate section. It advertised lots with a private beach in forming weekend or summer community with possibility of later retirement.
We arrived to the indicated location on Montauk Highway (some 70 miles from NYC), just before Center Moriches, at the corner of Hawkins Road (a diner stands there today.) There was a new, small office house (about 20' by 20') with large windows and sign Walter C. Hewitt Real Estate. It was shortly before 3 P.M. A man was just closing the office.
"I am Charles Drew" he introduced himself. "I am the manager of this office and of all the salesmen. We are closing little earlier today because of the Eastern Holidays. If you are really interested I'll show you what we are offering."
He invited us into his station wagon and was explaining that these are properties of multimillionaires Ralph and Edith Sturges, owners of the Masury Paints company. (John W. Masury made his fortune in Brooklyn during the late 1800's by inventing the lip closure for his paint cans.)
They were using these properties as their summer retreat. Because of excessive taxation this overly large estate became a burden to them.
They engaged a developer Walter C. Hewitt to partition large portion of the estate into lots while keeping the center (on the map in color blue) of the estate with houses. There were 170 lots in Section 1 and 214 lots in Section 3 (on the map color yelow), 75 lots in Section 2, (color pink) and 97 lots in Section 4 (color orange); total 556 lots (545 lots numbered, 3 lots lettered and 8 lots of W.C. Hewitt.) (Suffolk County maps #2188, #2189, #2190 filed in 4/15/1954 and #2363 filed in 1955.) This waterside community is surronded by Forge River, Mud (Sennix) Creek and Moriches Bay. Beyond the bay is the Atlantic Ocean separated from the mainland by Fire Islands.
From Montauk Highway we made a right turn into the Old Neck Road and passed over the Rail Road tracks into a region originally called "Old Neck".
"Here is where the Masury estate starts", Charlie pointed out, and "we named it the Holiday Beach Section 1 and 3. Most of the lots are 75' by 120', not sold yet. They are less expensive than the rest, because they are located before the Gate [to the estate] if you would be interested in any?"
Continuing for about a mile, we arrived to that Gate which was open. Here the Old Neck Road makes a right turn (west). (This gate was removed the same year and its two beautiful brick towers were removed some ten years later for the reason as "not to divide the community".)
We continued straight through the gate on the road named Old Neck Road South.
On the right (west) were three blocks of lots called Holiday Beach Section 4 with Carriage Lane and Heather Drive heading west and ending across with Mallard Drive.
"Madame Sturges claimed that she wanted to keep this part of the estate and that she signed the papers by mistake", explained Charlie, "but since we had it already surveyed and the streets were bulldozered last week, she agreed to keep the deal as she signed it."
On the left (east) was Section 1 with many lots already sold but still quite few offered us for buy. Further on the left at the Rewley Lane we came to a big waterfront lot with a large two story house with 16 bedrooms on the upper floor, formerly housing for the help. (Section C.) History of this later named "Captain Steve House" will be revealed in its own part.
Continuing the drive further south on the Old Neck Road South was a large structure, formerly a ballroom with a bowling alley of the Sturges family (named Section B). In 1901 Grace Masury's daughter, Edith married Ralph Alonzo Sturges in this ballroom. It was ruined by the hurricane in 1938 and then rebuilt. "This will be the Club House once most of the lots are sold", Charlie showing by his hand. (Now this structure is on the National, State and Town register of historic sites.)
On the right (west) was the remainder of the Sturges estate to be kept. At the entrance (north) was a house, residence of Alex Klapatov, his wife Pricilla (daughter of Edith Sturges) and children, six daughters.
Behind was a deserted 70 feet high windmill "Beaurivage" originally used to pump water for the estate. It was visible far from the ocean and serving as a point for navigation on all maritime maps until it was dismantled in December 1965 by the Center Moriches Fire Department on Klapatov's request because of the risk, maintenance and insurance expenses.
In the center of the remaining estate was a large luxurious two-story residence of the Sturges (built by Mrs. Grace Masury after her husband died).
Far back west were two waterfront luxurious houses for guests and a hunting lodge.
All over remained various structures such as marble podium for a band during their lavish parties (with such well-known performers as Paul Whiteman) sponsored by the family. There was a billiard house with a card room, solarium, stables, greenhouses, barn, storage sheds etc. In the mid-1800s estate was a source of jobs for local people being paid above average, one-and-half dollar a day.
Arriving at the end of the Old Neck Road South, it opened a glorious view at the Moriches Bay with sailboats, visible far out to the Westhampton Beach.
We made a left turn at the
On the way back we stopped again at Section 4 previously mentioned. Most of the lots were not sold yet including a couple of waterfronts appearing quite muddy to me. Besides the streets that were just bulldozered a week
Eleanor, dog Teddy, 1955 Chevrolet
I was attracted to the south end lots that were labeled as a surveyor's leftover being about 240 feet deep (while all the other lots were about 125 feet deep).
The lots were not individually surveyed yet so I randomly picked up a lot somewhere in the middle of the Heather Drive. Charlie estimated it should be lot 78 (presently #20) saying "somewhere over there is lot # 78". Then he told me if I buy it right then, because he wanted to go home and because he is the manager, he would save me the salesman's $400 commission, that I can have it for the net discounted price of $2 200. I accepted and gave him a $500 check (which was in 1955 lot of money) as a deposit to seal the deal.