The Huntington Historical Society’s Annual Historic Hour Tour was lovely!!! See the houses on the tour and photographs!!!
Walter Beh House
8 Chester Court
This area of Huntington was first farmed in the early 1700s by the Rhemp/Smith and Whitson families. In the 19th century, the J. Eaton family had built a farmhouse at this location. In the early 20th century, the Ireland family raised prized hens on a 110 acre poultry farm called the Shamrock. After the depression, the farm was transformed into a horse farm by Harry S. Jobes, where he raised and sold thoroughbreds. The May 4, 1934 Long Islander advertises this 110 acre horse farm with a 10 room house, 1-1/8 mile track, stallion stables for 20 horses, etc. for sale. A year later the paper announces that the property sold and the “old homestead has been torn down and a large new residence is being built.”
The new owners were Walter and Margaret Beh, who with their sons Bruce and Gordon, were searching for an equestrian farm in the country. Walter was the founder of a housewares manufacturing business with offices at 1150 Broadway, NYC. Although Margaret was the horsewoman, the family were members of both the Meadowbrook and Smithtown Hunt Clubs, hosting “hunts” at their estate named Chester, after Margaret’s prized stallion. According to son Bruce : “Mother played polo, was captain of the L.I. women’s team…and competed with Chester at the National Horse Show in the old Madison Square Garden.” Walter was involved with the boy scouts and was a trustee of Huntington Hospital. Over the years, the estate grew to over 300 acres.
In the late 1950s, the Behs began to sell land for a housing development “Old Chester Hills,” named after Margaret’s beloved horse.
John J. Robinson House
459 West Main Street
John J. Robinson was born in 1888, the oldest son of John J. and Mary E. Robinson of Brooklyn. The Robinson family had a summer home in Centerport. Immediately after graduating from college, he passed his bar exam and began practicing law in New York City. In 1912, he was elected to the State Assembly. A year later he was appointed attorney for the State Comptroller for the County of Suffolk. His Long Island Office was on Main Street in Huntington. He married Marie Metzner, the daughter of Martin Metzner. Martin bought this piece of property from Elwood Crossman in 1912 as a wedding gift to his daughter.
In 1914 the Robinsons had this house built, designed by local architect James S. Conkling. The November 20, 1914 issue of the Long Islander describes the new house in the following manner. “The spirit of the Colonial days has again been revived in Huntington. In the new home of Lawyer John J. Robinson, on Cold Spring Hill, may be seen a modern structure that emphasizes the good qualities historically associated with the homes of the colonists.
The driveway leads to the porte cochere entrance and continues on to a completely equipped garage… A wide cement path leads up to an impressive Colonial doorway that gives a truthful impression of the spacious staircase and hall behind it.
Within the house the entrance hall is the heart of everything. The living room, at one side, containing a large Colonial fireplace and overmantel, opens upon a tiled veranda that overlooks the entire village of Huntington, a view probably seldom surpassed… The library is located at the opposite side of the hall. The second floor contains a master’s suite of two large bedrooms… The entire interior is finished in this colonial spirit that seems particularly at home in Huntington.”
Henry Willetts House
66 Bay Avenue
Capt. Daniel Lynch 1861-1924 was born into a family of sea captains in Cold Spring Harbor. His father was Jeremiah Lynch and he had two brothers, Captain Thomas & Dennison who died at sea in 1920 aboard the schooner Mary Glynn, captained by his brother Thomas.
Captain Daniel Lynch was a licensed steamer captain and was long in the employ of the Dr. O. L. Jones’ interests at Lloyd’s Neck, East Neck, Bayville and other places. In 1882 he married Miss Annie Kilroy, the ceremony performed at St. Patrick’s R. C. Church by father Crowley. They had a son Daniel, and a daughter Alice, raised in this house.
The October 10, 1902 issue of the Long Islander noted that “Builder Frederick Gallienne is building a new house for Daniel Lynch on Bay Avenue.”
As was often the case in the Huntington Bay area, young families leased their homes for the “season.” The June 3, 1904 Long Islander notes that Walter Geoghegan of Manhatten “came up Wednesday for the summer to the Daniel Lynch residence on Bay Avenue.” Geoghegan and other members of his family would later build large homes in Wincoma. An October issue of 1904 states: “The family of Daniel Lynch after spending the summer in Northport have returned to their Halesite residence.”
The September 27 issue of the Long Islander ran the following story: “ Daniel Lynch played the part of a hero last Monday night at the Lloyd’s Neck gravel works when during the storm he saved three men from drowning. The 25-foot knockabout, in which were three Bayport men, capsized off the gravel works, and Mr. Lynch at once put out in his launch to render assistance. When he reached them he found that they needed help and needed it at once. So he jumped overboard with his clothes on and succeeded in getting all three of the strangers into his launch and they took them to shore, where they were given dry clothing and thoroughly warmed.”
7 Goose Hill Road
This area of Huntington was first settled by the Titus and Rogers families in the 17th & 18th centuries. The original house was probably built in the 1820s by Jacob Titus and then descended to his son Jacob Jr. Captain Eliphlet Bunce acquired the house in the mid-19th century. Eliphlet’s grandfather, who married Amy Titus in 1797, a sister of Jacob Sr., had moved from Northport to another house on Goose Hill Road. Eliphalet’s father, Joseph Titus Bunce raised his family in that house. Eliphalet’s brother, Joseph Titus Bunce Jr. built a third house on Goose Hill Rd., which was on the Society’s 2010 House Tour. The original Titus homestead, also on Goose Hill Road was on the Society’s 2007 Tour.
Architecturally this house is similar to many others in the area. The mantelpiece found in the east parlor is almost identical to the two mantles found in the 1826 Daniel Rogers House at the corner of Main Street and Spring Road in Cold Spring Harbor (seen below). The curving staircase with its beautifully turned spindles is far more sophisticated than the straight flight of stairs found in most houses of the period.
An elaborate bracketed cornice decorates the front and gabled ends of the house. These details, however, were probably added in the 1850s, possibly when Eliphlet Bunce and his wife Mary Jones Rogers Bunce moved in. The original simpler federal trim and box rain gutter with its forged iron supports may still be seen at the rear of the house.
The Titus-Bunce house is remarkable for the quality of its design and workmanship and for the amount of surviving original detail.
In 2016, an extension was added to the west side of the house replacing a small kitchen with a larger, modern kitchen.
Henry Willets House
70 Dewey Street
Henry E. Willets was born in Dix Hills, in 1863, the son of Platt B. and Sarah Kelsey Willets. The family farm was on the north side of what is today Caledonia Road. In September, 1916, Willets at age 54, sold his 75 acre farm to a Manhattan lawyer, Ernest A. Bigelow. Bigelow ended up buying additional farm land from Henry’s brother Eugene Willets, the Valentine and Carll families to build his summer estate house on 200 acres.
By October of 1916, Willets had contracted local builder Charles J. Smith and local mason LeRoy Ireland to erect “a fine house on Dewey Ave.” For many years Mr. Willets conducted a real estate and insurance business from his home. He had always been interested in church and school activities. In the late 19th century, he had been ordained a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church at Melville where the family attended for many years. After the family moved to Huntington, they joined the Central Presbyterian Church and he served a long period as a Ruling Elder. Also, he was general superintendent of the Sunday School for 25 consecutive years.
Mr. Willets married Dora Soper and they had three children, two sons and one daughter. One of his sons, Earle, lived on Oakland Ave, two streets south of Dewey.
Since 1954, the house has had many changes, including the addition of a “doctor’s” wing, the decks in the back, the enlarged modern kitchen and modern style interior. The most recent changes and improvements were made in 2016.
However, throughout all the changes and modernizations, the view from the street has remained pretty much the same.
December 3, 2017 – Noon to 4PM
Visit Five Historic Homes – Circa 1820 to 1930
Highlights of this year’s featured homes:
- Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passing of a Constitutional Ammendment granting women the right to vote in the state of New York, the 1820’s Cold Spring Harbor birthplace of Ida Bunce Sammis
- The Century old Farm House in Dix Hills owned by Henry Willets
- The Grand 1914 Georgian Style home of John J. Robinson elected to NY State Assembly in 1912
- Huntington Harbor’s turn of the 20th Century home built for local sea Captain Lynch
- A 1930’s Summer Estate built for wealthy manufacturer Walter Beh and his wife Margaret
The 1795 Dr. Daniel Kissam house will also be open for this year’s tour. The current exhibit “Promenade and Parasols” with dresses and parasols from the 18th and 19th centuries will be open for viewing.
The Conklin Barn will also be open for refreshments from Noon – 4pm, and the Museum Shop will also be open for your holiday, shopping pleasure.