Sunday, May 1, 2011

Raynham Hall Museum, Oyster Bay, LI, NY

Here I am at Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay, LI, NY.  While Susan and Rob have already toured the house, I talked them into stopping as they went past.  The house was not open on this particular day so we just photographed the outside of the house and decided to share its history with you.
After purchasing the property in 1738, Samuel Townsend and his wife moved into  a four room frame house with an orchard across the street and a meadow leading down to the harbor. By 1740, the house, now known as "The Homestead" had grown to eight rooms to accommodate a large family and a growing mercantile business.  Mr. Townsend had become a wealthy merchant who owned four ships that sailed to Europe, South America and the West Indies. Samuel also owned and operated a general store out of his home where he sold a variety of goods.  He served as a Justice of the Peace and was also the Town Clerk and was an elected to the New York Provincial Congress. 
During the Revolutionary War, while many Long Islanders were Loyalists, Samuel Townsend considered himself a Patriot. His son, Robert, was a part of the George Washington's Culper Spy Ring and was known as Culper Junior.  While the British occupied the town until the end of the war, it was during a six month period from 1778 to 1779 that the Queen's Rangers made their headquarters at the Townsend home.  According to legend, Sally Townsend overheard two officers discussing Benedict Arnold's plot to surrender West Point to the British.  She passed the information on to her brother Robert and the rest as they say is history. 

In 1851, the house was purchased by Samuel Townsend's grandson, Solomon Townsend II, also a wealthy merchant and importer.  He transformed the house into a Victorian villa and renamed it Raynham Hall after an ancestral home in Norfolk, England.  It was mostly used a summer house until 1861 when it became a permanent residence. He was also involved with the Town of Oyster Bay and served on the State Legislature. By 1860 he was one of the wealthiest and most respected men in Oyster Bay.

Relatives of the Townsend's bought Raynham Hall in 1914 to prevent further change. It was used as tea room and a meeting place for the Oyster Bay Historical and Genealogical Society until 1941 when the house was donated to the Daughters of the American Revolution.  They kept the house open until 1947 when it was  passed to the Town of Oyster Bay.  In 1953, the house was restored to the original  "saltbox" of the 1740's with the help of the Friends of Raynham Hall. 

I have included some links which will explain more about the house:

This is the official Raynham Hall site.  Very informative site and includes pictures, blueprints and history of the house where I borrowed some pictures from.

 Wikipedia article

Long Island Paranormal Investigators site:


1 comment:

  1. I'm a descendant of The Townsend family. My Great Grandfather was William Townsend. I grew up hearing stories of Robert Sr, and Sally. I can not wait for the day that I get to visit my ancestors home! When I read about Sally, my body felt like ice from head to toe! So proud!