Sunday, August 29, 2010

TheGreat Long Island Sphinx, Bayport, NY and the Anchorage Inn, Blupoint, NY

During our travels, Rob came upon the Great Long Island Sphinx.  This was the last stop on Rob's Mini Cooper Oddities Tour.  He was always fascinated with this and so the next thing to do was the research.  And so I will share with you what I found.

The Sphinx was built by Captain Will Graham in the early 1900's to attract people to his Anchorage Inn, also built by him in 1897.  We will go into the Inn in the second half of this blog and Will Graham's life.

When the Inn burned to the ground in the 20's, the Sphinx was moved to the inside of the gas station that was built on the site. It  was operated by the Ferri family from the early 30's to 1973, when the family sold their land and the gas station to a Long Island company called Power Test. While bulldozing the gas station in 1974, Power Test accidentally severed the head of the Sphinx from its body. If  Lou and John Fontana, owners of  Fontana Concrete in Bayport, hadn't passed by, the Sphinx wouldn't exist today.  And so, in the fall of 1981, the Fontana brothers began their restoration of the Great Long Island Sphinx. Finished in 1983, it sits in front of Fontana Concrete to this day as a memorial to the Inn and its builder, Will Graham, Lou Fontana and the Ferri family who kept the Sphinx intact.

Right down the road from the Sphinx are the remains of the previously mentioned Anchorage Inn in Bluepoint.   Will Graham, a skilled sculptor and marble worker,  arrived in America from Belfast, Ireland in 1888.  He built the Anchorage in 1897 and promoted business through a publication called "The Log" which was aimed at vacationers who wanted to spend time on Long Island.

A few of the famous who stayed at the Anchorage: Theodore Roosevelt, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks among them.

While continuing to operate the Inn, Graham never stopped sculpting and building.  His most famous work was the Great Sphinx.  He did build an early aeroplane and once promoted a bullfight at the Inn to which two thousand people attended. 

Will Graham died of pneumonia inside his Inn on February 20, 1920 at the age of 57. After the death of Graham's wife, the Inn burned down in 1927. The pictures that we took this afternoon are all that's left of the Anchorage Inn.  These are the fireplace, a chimney and the well.

As usual, I have included the following sites which helped me out tremendously in bringing you this history.

This link talks about the Anchorage and it includes pictures of the old inn, the Sphinx and Will Graham.

This site describes the Sphinx and how it was saved and restored.

Here I am hard at work on my blog.  Thanks to all of you who continue reading.  There is still much more to come.


  1. Clyde, I love the photo of you at work on your blog!

  2. Not only do you visit such interesting places, Clyde, but your writings about all those places are great! Are you sure you aren't a journalist or maybe a writer??

  3. When I grew up in Bayport, the Sphinx sat outside the gas station and next to a small pond on the north side of Montauk Hwy. That was probably in the early 1960's.

  4. Nice job with the info about the Sphinx. I grew up in West Patchogue, right near where the Sphinx sat in the gas station...(I thought it was behind it; didn't realize it was "inside" the building.) I used to bowl with Lou Fontana before his accidental death in 1988.

  5. Not sure all this info is accurate as I will forward this link to Ray Ferri to verify. I grew up next door to the Ferri's and played in the Sphinx many many a day. Mr. Ferri used it as a dog house as there was an opening through the made a great spot to hide in when we all played hide and seek! Lou and John did a wonderful job restoring the Sphinx as it was going to ruins as we grew up in the 50's and 60's. At that time it was located outside in the back of the gas station..not inside.

  6. Very nice article and pictures,brought back alot of great memories growing up there.The fireplace and well were not part of the inn,but built by my father Anthony Ferri SR in the 1960's.Also the Sphinx was not moved into the gas station,rather the station was built in front of the Sphinx.

  7. Does anyone have a photo of the sphinx from the street as it looked when it was behind the gas station. I've been looking all over.