Sunday, August 22, 2010

Meadowcroft, Sayville, LI, NY

Here I am sitting on the porch of the John Ellis Roosevelt estate, Meadowcroft, waiting for the 1:00 tour.  We went there this afternoon and what a surprise.  It's a beautiful house inside, but I can't share that with you because you're not allowed any shots.  So bear with me.  I did find a site with a virtual tour of Meadowcroft, so you'll be getting to see the bottom floor at least.

As was explained to us on the tour, Meadowcroft, (the name means small farm) is located in Suffolk County's Sans Souci Lake Nature Preserve.  This "summer cottage" was saved from destruction in the late 1980's when a local fire department wanted to burn it down to see how fast they could put the fire out.  A local wine merchant named Barney Loughlin (who we will mention later in this blog) was instrumental in saving the house.

 This summer cottage was used by the Roosevelt family to get away from the hustle and bustle of New York City where the family had a brownstone on 20th Street.  Country air was good for you, city doctors prescribed at the time, and Long Island was the perfect area to build a house.

Divided into two sections, the front of this mid nineteenth century house was the more formal of the two and designed by local architect Isaac H. Green.
The back of the house, also known as the original farmhouse, was used as servant's quarters. The rooms in the older farmhouse include the kitchen. (complete with running water and a sink) laundry, servant's dining area and the servant's quarters which were upstairs and closed off to the public. These rooms were later used as guest rooms. There was also Mr. Roosevelt's woodworking room next to the servant's dining area.  The main house, which the Roosevelt family used, has a formal dining room, ladies parlor room, a library, and a beautiful living room which you will see in the virtual tour site link that I will include.  Upstairs on the second floor there is a nursery, men's sitting room, four bedrooms, and four beautiful bathrooms.

The outside buildings include a stable and a barn, a garage, coach house, a caretaker's house and a concrete swimming pool which we didn't see.  A water tank was located on the barn roof and was used to supply water to the house.  The garage held one of the first cars on the Island.  The Roosevelt family loved all the new modern gadgets which were strewn over the entire house such as two old typewriters, one an old Underwood and another a Smith and Corona.  There were phones, a gramophone with cylinders, even an old electric iron in the laundry.  There is also a hand pulled elevator hidden behind the walls of the house.   

There are actually three Roosevelt's associated with Meadowcroft, Robert Barnwell Roosevelt who originally purchased part of the land on which the house is located, his nephew Theodore Roosevelt, who visited the house and was very close to his uncle Robert, and John Ellis Roosevelt, Robert's son who was T.R.'s cousin.

Unfortunately, two tours are given every Sunday in the summer only, one at 1:00 and the second at 3:00.  We opted for the earlier tour and were joined unexpectedly by friends.
Earlier I had promised to mention Loughlin Vineyards which is run by Barney Loughlin and his daughters.  Well, here I am sitting on a fence post and on my left is the small shack that is the tasting room.  Also located on my left you can spot some of the vineyards.  What does this have to do with Meadowcroft? The answers are threefold.  One is that Barney Loughlin's parents worked for the Roosevelt's.  Barney's father was the caretaker at Meadowcroft and Barney grew up along with his brothers and sisters on the property in the caretaker's house down the road from his vineyard.  His mother was Mrs. Roosevelt's secretary.  Two is that Barney purchased the land from one of the last surviving children of the Roosevelt clan and had taken over the job as caretaker of the property after his father passed away. He and his family now live in the small caretaker's house.  And number three, if you haven't guessed by now, Loughlin Vineyards is located in back of the Meadowcroft estate and you have to pass the house to get to his tasting room.  This is how we discovered the house in the first place.  We were also given a private tour and learned how his wine is made.  By the way, his South Bay Blush is one of the best tasting wines on the Island.  Our friends always buy at least two cases of the stuff.

 Here I am in front of the vineyards. On a nice day in the summer, Barney will let you have a picnic and just enjoy the quiet of the day.

There are the usual links that I am providing:

This link will give you a virtual tour of the first floor of Meadowcroft estate.  Enjoy!

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