Sunday, February 20, 2011

South Side Sportsmen's Club, Connetquot River State Park Preserve, Oakdale, LI, NY

Today we visited Connetquot River State Park Preserve, once the home of the South Side Sportsmen's Club, which was incorporated on the 6th of April, 1866.  The club was originally started by a group of wealthy sportsmen who frequented the popular Snedecor's Tavern, which they eventually purchased and expanded. 

We took a house tour today at 1 and it certainly was a beautiful day for one, although cold and a bit windy.  Our tour guide was Ellie, who showed us the entire place from top to bottom and then some.

One of the smaller bedrooms on the second floor
Entering through the Main House into the gift shop (originally Snedecor's Tavern in 1820 before it was reframed and extended by the Club in 1868) the tour began in the Ladies  Sitting Room, which now houses the offices of the Connetquot River State Park Preserve Environmental Education.  Moving upstairs we caught a glimpse of the bedrooms which were expanded to house over 100 club members. A separate house, referred to as "the New Annex", was built in 1899 by eight members of the club who pooled their resources. It is currently the residence of the Park Manager.

Here I am in front of the New Annex

Moving back down to ground level, we entered the Ladies Dining Room.  None of the pieces are original, but Ellie explained that when the Club sold the property to New York State in 1973, everything was auctioned off, right down to the names on the lockers in the Rod and Gun Room, where the equipment was kept. This included the silverware that was used in the Ladies Dining Room, which is currently on display by a generous donation.  You can tell by the initials SSSC etched into the spoons, knives and forks on the table.
Ladies Dining Room

Moving from the small but lovely Trophy Room to the Men's Dining Room, Ellie pointed out a most unusual device that we have never seen before.  Attached to the radiator was a warming tray, a precursor to the more modern microwave oven.  Men placed their cold food inside to warm it up. 
Ellie showing off the Rod and Gun Room's beautiful wooden lockers
We moved into the large kitchen area which fed the entire club. After moving through the Rod and Gun Room, we entered another room toward the back, originally used to clean freshly caught game.  Currently in use as the BOCES-SCOPE Outdoor Learning Laboratory, it has been most recently used by the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts as well as school groups.  Look above and you will notice a skylight, which opens for ventilation, a rare sight seen in the late 1800's.  

Kitchen area
The last room we entered was the Billiard Room, the last room which was original to Snedecor's Tavern, and, according to the pamphlet we received, was moved 25 feet to the southwest and a three story section of the building was added between the Billiard Room and Snedecor's.

With a little help from the "Friends of Connetquot", the Billard Room is in the process of being refurbished to the way it looked originally.  Rocking chairs dot the wood floor while over in the corner is a small bar which featured a BYOB (there are little cabinets to furnish whatever bottle you brought yourself).  The room is filled with duck decoys (for which the club was famous).  A Ben Franklin stove from the Astor House in NYC sits against the wall in the center.  Originally, the Sportmen's Club could only be reached by carriage.  Later on, it could be reached by railroad where they had their own clubhouse.  An indoor weather vane still operates from 1820.

Many famous celebrities were guests here. Among them were Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Grant, William "Tecumseh" Sherman and Mary Pickford to name a few.

Once outside, there are trails that lead almost anywhere.  There is a grist mill that is being refurbished.  It was started by the Nicoll family, a very prominent Long Island family that have many roads named after them.  Called the Oakdale Grist Mill, it was built in 1750 by William Nicoll the first and used by local farmers to grind  wheat and corn.  The mill was in use up until 1878, but the Club loved to look at it and was kept standing.  Damaged by a storm in the 20's the mill is currently being refurbished.

Nicoll's Mill
Many trails lead you around the Club and you can where you can see the Main Garage, the Carpenter's House, the Ice House and the Hatchery Building, which is a mile upward from the Club.  Built in 1890 and still in use today, it provides many local parks with brook, brown and rainbow trout.  We plan to visit it at another time, but it is one of the things that can be enjoyed at this preserve.

The Connetquot Park Preserve has its own unique history beginning with the Secatogue Native American tribe, who named the area Connetquot meaning "Great River".  The path leading up to the Club was originally an old Indian road which later became a stagecoach road and was once a split off of old Montauk Highway, Route 27A.

It was settled originally by the Nicoll family in 1684 and 1697.  In 1820, the family leased a portion of their land to Eliphalet Snedecor who built his Tavern.  It became the South Side Sportmen's Club in 1866 and they expanded their holdings, eventually totaling to 3,473 acres.

The Club sold the land to the New York State in 1963 for $6.2 million, but leased back the property for another ten years.  In August, 1973, the Club was opened to the public to be used as a recreational facility.  In 1978, it was was declared a State Park Preserve by the New York Legislature.

So please, if you are in the area, visit this beautiful state park and preserve.  There are many walking and hiking trails to enjoy.  The house and gift shop are open to the public.  You can walk where Native Americans, early settlers and wealthy sportsmen once walked, hunted and fished.  Become a part of history and visit the Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale, NY.  It's worth a trip. 

As usual, I am including some links:

Official site:

Wikipedia article

Friends of Connetquot official site

Article in Newsday mentioning the Connetquot River State Park Preserve and Bayard Cutting Arboretum from May 1, 2001:

The many trails inside the Connetquot River State Park Preserve:


  1. Very interesting information, Clyde. This is yet another place I would love to visit.

  2. What a great place...I just wish we lived closer to your area, Clyde. This would be at the top of my list of places to vist! As usual, thank you to you and Susan and Rob for taking us on another adventure! :o)
    Love the sepia pictures!

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