HISTORY OF PLANDOME MANOR
The history of our area spans more than three hundred years, although our
village government was established only sixty years ago.
The earliest inhabitants were Matinecock Indians of the Algonquin nation, who
called this area “Sint Sink”, (“place of many stones”). In 1640 the first
recorded English settlers, led by Captain Daniel Howe, from Lynn, Massachusetts,
landed on these shores of Manhasset Bay. Their land grant from Lord Stirling was
disputed by the Dutch who succeeded in driving them from ‘Howe’s Bay’ area. They
sailed on east to find Southampton. But three years later, in search of
religious freedom, Robert Fordham and John Carman, from Connecticut, purchased
from the Indians all the land from the sound to the ocean and called it
To insure peaceful settlement it was necessary to obtain the permission of the
Dutch West India Company’s Director-General in New Amsterdam, Governor William
Kieft. At last this was granted, provided the Englishmen took an oath of
allegiance to the Netherlands and to the Company, and promised to settle one
hundred persons in the area within five years. It granted religious freedom and
allowed self-government. This document, dated November 16, has become known as
the Kieft Patent of 1644.
These first settlers, about thirty families, made their homes on the Hempstead
plains and used this northern neck of land to pasture their cows. About 1658 it
was decided to erect a fence across the ‘Kowe Neck’ southeast from Pipestave
Creek (Leeds Pond) to Roslyn Harbor. The exact location is in dispute, but it
enclosed about six thousand acres of fertile land and good timber. Each settler
was allowed to pasture the number of cattle in proportion to the lengths of
eleven foot post and rail “panels” he had built. According to town records sixty
men participated, building five hundred twenty-six “panels” or “gates” for the
herd of over three hundred cows. George Hewlett was appointed keeper to watch
over the five mile long fence and see that no calves or cows got out to destroy
crops or farms. “G” was the brand used on cows on Cow Neck or Town of Hempstead.
Each farmer also marked his cattle on the ear with a special nick of his own.
When in 1664 James, the Duke of York, at the request of King Charles II, his
brother, sent Colonel Richard Nicolls, with four hundred fifth men, ninety-four
guns, four warships, to claim this territory, he forced the surrender of the
Dutch. New Amsterdam became New York and Colonel Nicolls was appointed Governor.
In August, 1664 he appointed Captain Matthias Nicoll, a young lawyer, son of a
clergyman and already living in New Amsterdam, to be secretary of the new colony
and authorized ex officio to preside with the justices in the court of sessions.
Captain Nicoll became speaker of the first colonial assembly. He also served at
the famous Duke’s Laws Assembly in Hempstead, February 1665, where the first
legal code of the province under the English was made known to the delegates,
two men each from sixteen towns on Long Island and Westchester.
According to the North Hempstead Records of April 9, 1669, it was voted to send
Mr. Gildersleve to New York to fetch the patent and speak with Captain Nicoll
and find out “what the Town is indebted to him for the patent” and “to see him
It is also recorded that Matthias Nicoll bought property here in 1670, two years
before the Dutch recaptured the colony. After New York was returned to the
English by treaty in 1674, it was decided to divide the Cow Neck lands. An
excerpt from the record reads:
“At a Jenerall town meting Held in Hempstead the 8 day of March in the yeare of
our Lord 1674. It was ordered and agreed on by the maJor Votte of the townd that
the Cow neck shall be laid out into Particular alotments to Every man according
to his Right or proportion by fence acording to the townd order allso at the
seame time there was given to Captain Nichols 200 Akers of Land on the Cow neck
an he is to have it where he pleseth on the Cow neck Provided he take it in a
square pese an when that 200 Akers of land is laid out and then the Rest of the
Neck is to be laid out also, all that is Capable. This land was given to Captin
Nichols on condishon that he should be one with us in defending our Rights.
Nathaniell Pearsall Clar”
He chose his two hundred acres in the present Plandome and Plandome Manor area.
He acquired another four hundred acres as payment for services rendered to the
local Indians in settling boundaries. Captain Matthias Nicoll build a home on
this land and he or his son William may have been the one to name it “Plandome”,
from the Latin ‘planus domus’ meaning “plain” or “peaceful” home.
In 1674 Nicoll was chosen Mayor of New York City and after the act of 1683 to
remodel the courts, was appointed one of the judges of the Supreme Court. He and
his wife, Abigail, were both buried on their Cow Neck estate, although the exact
spot is not now known, as the graves were vandalized by Hessian soldiers. There
is an historical marker on the north side of Plandome Road in front of the old
manor house which reads:
“Matthias Nicoll – died 1687.
Sec to Gov. Richard Nicolls;
Served at Duke’s Laws Assembly;
Mayor of N.Y, 1674;
Speaker of first Colonial Assembly.”
His son, William inherited the property and acquired four hundred additional
acres. In 1693 he commissioned Joseph Latham, master shipwright, to build a
tidewater Gristmill (Plandome Mill) on the bay, near Gilders eve’s Creek (Leeds
Pond). In 1718 he sold six hundred nine acres with the manor house and mill to
Joseph Latham for 2350 English pounds, and moved to his Suffolk estate, Islip,
named after the ancestral home in England.
This Plandome Mill property passed to Joseph’s son, William and to his son, Dr.
Samuel Latham, and through marriage, to a nephew, Dr. Samuel Latham Mitchell and
on to Singleton Mitchelll (1781), the great grandson of Joseph Latham.
Further mention should be made of Dr. Samuel Latham Mitchell who was born at
Plandome August 20, 1764. Educated at the University of Edinburgh, he became
Professor of Applied Chemistry at Columbia College, a physician at New York
Hospital, a United States Senator in 1808, worked with Thomas Jefferson on a
study of bones, gave the address at the opening of the Erie Canal (1825) and
after an illustration and fruitful life died in 1830.
William Henry Hewlett, another large landowner in the Cow Neck area, bought part
of the Mitchell acres in the mid 1800’s and he also operated a gristmill and a
saw mill on his land (Plandome Mills). After his death, Hewlett’s estate was
purchased by Warner M. Leeds in 1906.
The large Mitchell and Hewlett properties continued to be farmed for most of the
nineteenth century. They were broken up about the turn of the century when
prominent people built estates here for their summer use and our present village
began to take shape.
As shown on the map, Plandome Manor consists of four distinct areas: Plandome
Park, Plandome Mills, Circle Drive and Gulls Cove-Elm Sea Lane-Luquer Road. This
history will trace briefly their development.
Plandome Park – The Old Nicoll manor house and about twelve acres became the
home of the Martin W. Littleton family. He was a former Congressman from
Brooklyn and a noted attorney whose name became well known in the lurid Harry K.
Thaw trial for the murder of the famous architect, Stanford White over the
showgirl Evelyn Nesbitt. His son, Martin W. Littleton, Jr., served as district
attorney for Nassau County for several terms.
Mrs. Littleton became very interested in religion and after several visits to
the Holy Land had a library built on the property about 1930, as a memorial to a
son killed during the war. The architecture was similar to that of old Palestine
and was surrounded by a high concrete wall on which were painted scenes of
Jerusalem. The library contained a large collection of rare religious books and
artifacts, including a Bible in German, translated by Martin Luther. Mrs.
Littleton lectured there frequently, dressed in a native costume worn in
Biblical times. She also spoke over the radio every Sunday morning from New York
After World War II the Littleton property was divided and sold off in several
plots. The renowned American water color artist, Barse Miller, remodeled the
memorial library in 1949 and made it a home. Mr. Miller, the recipient of many
professional honors, was the chief of the Combat Art Section for the Southwest
Pacific area (World War II) and was a full professor in the Art Department of
Queens College until his death in 1973.
The manor house and outbuildings had several owners and additions and is still a
Another well known resident of the Park, in 1908, was Frances Hodgson Burnett,
who authored more than forty books and countless short stories and plays for
children. Among them, “The Secret Garden” (when she was laying out her Plandome
garden), “Little Lord Fauntleroy”, and “A Little Princess”, were three of the
most famous, best loved and most successful children’s books of all time. They
are still considered classics. Her son, Vivian, the model for Fauntleroy, also
build a home nearby on Bayview Road after his marriage. After Mrs. Burnett’s
death in 1924 her house passed to her nephew, Archer P. Fahnestock and in 1940
was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Grumman.
Because the Burnett house had burned, leaving only a large garage intact, the
Grummans build their waterfront home. Mr. Grumman was a founder of the famous
corporation that bears his name. The Grumman Corporation is Long Island’s
largest employer and is well known for its unexcelled production record of
airplanes for the Navy during World War II. It is perhaps better known for
designing and producing the Lunar Module which landed man on the moon. Mr.
Grumman was the first industrialist to receive the Presidential medal for the
outstanding production record in World War II.
The waterfront land adjoining the Grummans and including the present Lake Road
area had been purchased in 1926 by Ellis L. Phillips. “Laurimore”, the beautiful
English mansion with gatehouse, sunken gardens and beach took a year to build
and remained his home until his death in 1959. Mr. Phillips was an engineer with
a variety of mechanical, electrical and refrigerating business projects here and
in other countries. He founded and was the first president of the Long Island
Lighting Company (December 31, 1910). Mr. & Mrs. Phillips were also known for
their generous philanthropies to educational institutions including
Ohio-Wesleyan University and Cornell University. This estate was sold to a
developer, who retained the mansion, and the area is now Andover Court.
Plandome Park residents are also indebted to Mr. Phillips for the gift of land
for its community beach.
The remainder of the waterfront land next to the Phillips, along what is now
Heritage Way, was the estate of B.H. Inness-Brown, a prominent attorney who
became the first mayor of this village after its incorporation in 1931.
Among those who acquired property on the opposite side of Bayview Road were Dr.
Herbert Houston, vice-president of Doubleday Company publishing house and Thomas
Nast Fairbanks, both of whom served on the first board of trustees of the
Payne Whitney had a large stone boathouse built for his son, John Hay (Jack), in
1928. It served as a hangar for his seaplane, garages for cars, living quarters
for the staff and had a magnificent trophy room on the upper story. The
boathouse is situated on the waterfront and is adjacent to Plandome Park’s
William Henry Hewlett’s land, which extended east from the Bay, including
“Mitchell’s Pond”, was bought by Warner M. Leeds in 1906. Hewlett’s gristmill
and paper mill (source of the street names) did not survive but the study and
picturesque Plandome Mill did and is now, after being relocated seventy feet
back from the original highway (about 1955), a well kept private residence. It
contains some of the old machinery that operated the mill.
Also dating back to 1693, the house opposite the mill on Water Lane, was built
for the Miller’s family. It was added to in 1800 and again in recent years and
is still home to a growing family.
Warner M. Leeds and his brother, William B., organized the American Tin-Plate
Company in 1899. It was the first American mill for the exclusive manufacture of
tin-plate and Mr. Leeds was often called the “Tin-Plate King.”
Residents of the Mills may be amused to learn that in October, l917 a court
ruling based on old colonial patents of 1644 and 1685 gave Mr. Leeds permission
to use the water of the pond to operate the old gristmill (1693) but was ordered
to remove the high barbed wire fence erected in 1906 due to objections of
residents of the area.
After Leeds’ death in 1925, his daughter sold most of the land to E.L. Smith.
Shore Properties, Inc. purchased fifty-eight acres which became part of the
Plandome Country Club. In 1950 Walter Uhl and Charles Cornebert planned to
develop the present “Plandome Mills, Inc.”
An article from the North Shore Daily Journal described the Plandome Golf Club,
which opened May 30, 1931, as “one of the most picturesque on the Island”. The
one hundred ten acre course was laid out by Orrin Smith of New Britain,
Connecticut. It occupies the center portion of the Leeds estate, which
originally ran from Plandome Road, along Stonytown Road to Port Washington
Boulevard. It was also part of Singleton Mitchell’s land and the 1850 farmhouse
formed part of the clubhouse. It burned in 1958 and the present structure was
built. It may be noted that although the golf course is in Plandome Manor the
clubhouse is in the Village of Plandome.
In 1910 August J. Janssen bought thirty-six acres surrounding the proposed
railroad site, from Leeds’ holdings and built a home on the west corner of
Circle Drive and Stonytown Road. He was the proprietor of the popular Janssen’s
Hofbrau on Eighty-Sixth Street in New York City.
Five years later he sold the parcel on the east side of the railroad to Richard
R. Thompson, an architect, and the first homes were built there in the 1920’s.
However, major development did not take place until the middle 1930’s.
Mention should be made that except for the first four houses on the railroad,
all of the Circle Drive area is in School District #4, Port Washington, and the
Port Washington fire district; all the rest of Plandome Manor lies in School
District #6 and the Manhasset Lakeville water and fire district.
Gulls Cove-Elm Sea Lane-Luquer Road
According to old maps, N. Luquer (1863), then George A. Thayer (1906) and
finally Raoul G. Fleischman (1925), owned the section now called Gulls Cove.
Mr. Fleischman was the first Chairman of the Board and principal backer of The
Magazine. He also was a member of the first Board of Trustees of Plandome Manor.
The thirty-two room mansion built in the early 1900’s has undergone remodeling
and removal of almost half of the rooms but remains a beautiful private home.
Luquer Road is located on part of the Wagner farm holdings, as well as Luquer’s.
The old homestead, at #96, was built in 1775 by a Wagner from Darien,
Connecticut and the 1873 map shows it as N. Luquer’s on the opposite side of the
road from its present location. The present owner, a descendant of the Wagner
family says that the house has been moved three times and has been radically
The Elm Sea Lane area was formerly two large estates. F. H. Brunell acquired a
Mediterranean type villa built about 1902 by Mr. Forbes and he created the
plantings of rare trees and sunken gardens. These were expanded when Fred W.
Lewis became the owner. His successful nursery and landscaping business, Lewis
and Valentine, was located on Cedar Swamp Road in Brookville.
The acreage on the south side of the lane was also developed about 1907. After
passing through two previous ownerships, it was purchased in 1920 by William F.
Morgan for a summer home. He was a Commissioner of Markets in New York City, an
enthusiastic sportsman and one of the country’s first hot air balloonists. He
and his wife were avid tennis players and he built a court near the garden for
the enjoyment of their many friends. He died in 1972 at age ninety-four.
Both of these beautiful estates had small cottages down on the beach as well as
carriage houses. Only one carriage house remains. By the 1950’s the eastern
(back) section of the Lewis property was sold to developers and Morgan sold part
of his land to Herman Goldman, his neighbor.
Goldman Estate – North Shore Science Museum
In 1927 when Herman Goldman, his two brothers and only sister, purchased the
land owned by Robert R. Sizer it was a working farm. He remodeled the house into
a twenty-two room mansion, turned the chicken coop into a two-lane bowling alley
and landscaped the fields. Later he acquired the Charles Mason property on the
north as well as some of the Morgan estate, making a total of thirty-six acres.
He was a prominent marine lawyer with extensive shipping interests, which
enabled him to obtain portholes and a bar, and have it installed in his home.
This was dismantled after his death and is now part of the History of
Transportation” exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
When Goldman died in 1967, at age eighty-seven, the Village Board urged Nassau
County to buy the estate as part of its land preservation policy. The County
expressed interest but said it did not have the funds for the price asked by the
Goldman executors. The estate was then sold to a developer who submitted plans
to build about fifty homes on the site including at least five on the
waterfront. This would have eliminated the view of Manhasset Bay, except for a
narrow section at the spillway. When the Mayor learned that the estate had been
sold at a price far below the original asking price he again asked the County to
acquire it by condemnation. After numerous meetings between the Mayor and County
representatives, the County acquired the estate in 1970. A written agreement
between the Village and the County restricts the use of the land and waterfront
to preserve the character of the area. Within the terms of this agreement, the
thirty-six acre estate and mansion were leased in 1973, to the North Shore
Science Museum for one dollar a year for its educational programs. The County
retains ownership and is responsible for maintenance of the property.
Plandome Manor was incorporated as a village in 1931. This followed the pattern
of Plandome Heights and Munsey Park in 1929 and 1930 and for the same reasons; a
desire to avoid an increase in taxes due to proposed sewer installation and to
have more control over zoning and local affairs. There are three area civic
associations which contribute to promoting social contacts with neighbors, and
assist in community projects. Plandome Manor covers three hundred twenty acres,
or a half square mile, and has more than eight hundred inhabitants living in two
hundred seventy-five houses. This village is fortunate in having within its
boundaries beaches, a railroad station, a post office, a golf club and a museum
and no commercial enterprises. Truly, Plandome Manor lives up to the name given
it by William Nicoll three hundred years ago and has remained a “pleasant” and
“peaceful” place to live.
First Board of Trustees 1931-33
Mayor: B.H. Inness-Brown
Armour W. Barbour
Thomas N. Fairbanks
Dr. Herbert S. Houston
Clerk: Norman D. Riker
Counsel: Judge Ernest M. Strong
Road Commissioner: Gilbert L. Johnstone