Historical Society Shines


Sept. 14 was an outstanding day for the Historical Society of thkirchmann_101916be Massapequas. Two events took place that show how dedicated its members are to preserving and promoting local history.

The earlier event was the dedication of a marker to Massapequa Manor, a grand mansion built in 1837 by David Jones that stood on Merrick Road for more than 100 years. The manor was an ornate, three-story building with classical columns, reached from a circular driveway off Merrick Road. It had a polo field, race track, stable, windmill and several outbuildings. Across Lakeshore Boulevard was a boat house connected to the lake that was dug out when the manor was built. Mary’s Island stands in the middle of the lake, named after Mary Clinton, David Jones’ third wife and daughter of Governor Dewitt Clinton.
David Jones sold the manor to his cousin William Floyd-Jones, who later sold it to his relative by marriage William Robison. It passed from the family around 1920, when the Corroon family bought the manor and the lake. They held it until 1947, when it was sold to a real estate developer who built private houses around the manor. It remained vacant until 1952, when it was destroyed by fire. Many residents refer to the nearby lake as Corroon’s Lake, although that is not the correct name. It is officially Massapequa Lake and has been since it was created by David Jones in 1837. The Town of Oyster Bay confirmed the correct name in 1990.

The Historical Society, recognizing its importance, voted recently to erect a marker at the site. We were very fortunate to have a direct connection to the manor in the person of Jack Corroon, who was born there in 1922 and is the last surviving Corroon family member who lived in the building. Jack had become reacquainted with the Massapequas about a year ago and visited our Historic Complex a few times. He was thrilled when we told him we were dedicating a marker that honored his home, so much so that he brought 14 family members, including his five children, to the dedication. The marker, which stands on the west side of Lakeshore Boulevard just north of Merrick Road, was unveiled with Jack’s help and is the 16th historical marker erected by the Historical Society.

The other event of historical interest was the rededication of the Jones Cemetery, also called West Neck Cemetery, on Merrick Road east of Massapequa Avenue. The cemetery already had a marker, but was highlighted for other reasons. It had received minimal care for many years, because there is no clear record who owns it. The Tkirchmann_101916aown of Oyster Bay has not located an owner so the Historical Society recently agreed to act as the conservator. Society members cleaned the site, removed old trees so that the headstones could be seen more readily and planted new ones. A metal fence and a black metal sign were erected, drawing attention from anybody passing along Merrick Road. Much of the credit for this project belongs to Gilly Kicherer, a long-time society trustee, who came up with the original plans, oversaw the tree removal and replanting and the erection of the fence and sign. He and Lillian Bryson were asked to unveil the sign and did so to an enthusiastic round of applause.

The final stop was Old Grace Church, where society members mingled with the Corroons and other guests over a delicious lunch prepared by society vice president Gail Klubnick, who did an outstanding job arranging the food and drink and making sure everybody was comfortable. The Historical Society president arranged bus transportation. The proof that we had done the right thing came from the good wishes of the Corroon family as well as from subsequent emails expressing their gratitude for the marker and the overall enjoyable experience.

George Kirchmann is a trustee of the Historical Society of the Massapequas. His email address is gvkirch@optonline.net.

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George Kirchman is a writer for Massapequa Observer, specializing in features about local history.

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