Saturday, October 23, 2010

Argyle Hotel and the Cuban Giants, Babylon, Long Island, New York

Since the World Series is coming up, I decided to bring up a little of Long Island's baseball past.

Last month, we drove down to Argyle Park in Babylon to just walk around.  Susan and Rob have passed the park several times but never stopped by.  I just happened to be with them that day when they discovered something that they had no idea existed; namely the fact that a hotel once stood on the site of the park.

The park was originally the estate of Electus P. Litchfield, the Brooklyn railroad magnate. In the 1800's, it became the site of the Argyle Hotel, one of many that dominated Long Island that attracted wealthy summer visitors from the city.  It was constructed by August Belmont in 1882 and was financed by the Long Island Railroad president, Austin Corbin. The hotel and nearby Blythebourne Lake was renamed the Argyle Hotel and Argyle Lake after the Dukedom of Argyll, which was one of the hotel's largest investors.  Although the name called up old English ways, the hotel never attracted the crowd that  the builders envisioned.  Its 350 rooms were always one third filled.  The hotel was left to decay and was finally torn down in 1904. 

The park, as it stands today, was donated to the Village of Babylon by J. Stanley Foster, Esq. in 1921.  It is still used today for walking, fishing and contains children's playground.

The waterfalls, pictured below, make Argyle Park an excellent location for weddings.
  The Cuban Giants, originally black service workers of the Argyle Hotel, formed their team in 1885 and were the first African American professional baseball club. 

There were no Cubans on the team, although they played in Cuba from 1885 - 1886. Originally known as the Babylon Black Panthers, the name was a ploy built up by promoter Walter Cook, who was attracted to the team by their victories over "white" teams.  The Cuban Giants went on to achieve their status as the "world's colored champions" of 1887 and 1888.  They remained as one of the premier Negro baseball league teams for almost 20 years.

As always, here are some sites that will go more into the history of the Argyle Hotel and the Cuban Giants:

On the history of the Argyle Hotel

The Wikipedia article:,_New_York

 Wikipedia article on the Cuban Giants

an article about the Argyle from 1893:


  1. Cool story...never knew anything about this place. Argyle Park does look like it would be a a great place for a lovely wedding!!

  2. Was raised in Argyle Park in a house that was constructed, circa 1904, from the wood left over when they tore down the Aryle Hotel.

    I attended the dedication of the stone to the Cuban Giants at the former Argyle Hotel site in 2010.

    Jay Rettaliata
    Bay Shore, NY