Tuesday, September 8, 2015

William Floyd Estate

My series on local parks continues. Today, I focus on the William Floyd Estate in Mastic, which is a small park within the broader Fire Island National Seashore in Long Island, New York. Links to other parks in my series follow the images and text.

The William Floyd Estate is a bit like going to a Long Island version of House on the Rock in Wisconsin (if you know what that is) in that it is focuses on an eclectic mix of material objects within a single building. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the house, so I will have to describe it a bit for you. But first some history.

William Floyd was one of the two New York signers of the Declaration of Independence. The home was originally built in the 1720's. At the time, it was a much smaller home. In the photo below, it included just the extreme right side of the larger portion of the house that contains the two windows to the right of the porch. This two story home was built by Nicoll Floyd, William's father. Each generation of Floyds made modifications to the home.

The William Floyd Estate. Photo by Bob Brinkmann
The home was continuously occupied (at least as a summer home in later generations) by eight generations of Floyds--although the British occupied the home briefly during the revolutionary war. (As an aside, the British troops used the main hall as a stable for their horses and when they left they destroyed all the windows but one.)

Regardless of the British shenanigans in the house, the home was a working home from the 1720's until 1976 when Cornelia Floyd and her family donated it to the National Park Service in honor of the bicentennial of the nation.

But she had a stipulation. She wanted the home left the way it was in 1976.

Which is why it is like a small version of House on the Rock. It contains all of the various artifacts that a family could collect in 250 years. In one room, you'll see a Colonial table, next to an empire era china cabinet, next to a faux Colonial couch from the 1940's.

The house, which has a wing that extends back from this photo, rambles on with many, many bedrooms, five bathrooms, four kitchens, and various parlors. Each room has is a distinct salmagundi of materials. For example, in the library, I noted a Joyce Carol Oates book amidst books that predated her birth by at least 100 years.

I think this mix of objects is what is so refreshing about the Floyd estate. I was expecting a Colonial reconstruction. Instead, visiting the house keeps alive the 1700's, 1800's, and 1900's in ways that are both exciting (Thomas Jefferson was a visitor) and mundane (one of the things you'll note on the tour is changing toilet technology). In one kitchen you can see implements for carding and weaving flax. In another kitchen, you'll see a transistor radio and a 1950's era plastic wrap dispenser.

This gem of a park is a bit like seeing an interpretation of a Colonial world seen through the Scooby Doo lens of the 1970's.

I think what surprised me the most about the park was the overall lack of visitors. When I visited with a friend of mine, only one other person was on the tour.

For more information about the Estate, check out their Website here.
The grave of William Floyd. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

Detail of the headstone of Nicoll Floyd, William Floyd's father. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

Headstone of Nicoll Floyd. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

The cemetery at the William Floyd Estate. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

There are lots of pathways throughout the 611 acre property. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.

Previous On the Brink Posts on Local Parks

Locally Managed Parks


Riverhills Park, Temple Terrace

New York

Eisenhower Park

Federal Parks


Lake Lanier Works Park

New York

William Floyd Estate

Previous On the Brink Posts on National Parks

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Mount Rainier National Park
North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park

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