Woodsburgh marks its centennial
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“There is a great amount history in the Village of Woodsburgh,” said Lee Israel, a trustee who has lived in the village for 15 years. “It is a unique enclave. Before the North Shore became the Gold Coast, the South Shore had celebrities such as Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell.”
A history to celebrate
In 1869, Samuel Wood, a retired liquor merchant and tycoon from Brooklyn, turned his dream of building a town and naming it after himself into reality by purchasing a plot of land and naming it Woodsburgh. Individual lots were sold to millionaires, who built summer homes and estates.
Wood, a bachelor, died in 1878 and, because he had no heirs, his fortune went to Abraham Hewlett, a descendant of the area’s first white settler. Twelve years later, Woodsburgh was renamed Woodmere to avoid confusion with Woodbury, another Long Island community.
The Woodsburgh Land Improvement Company, formed after Wood’s death, eventually sold a majority of the land in Woodmere to Robert Burton, a wealthy New York investor. From 1901 to 1909, Burton moved or demolished every building on the land and designed a planned community. The residential area became the Village of Woodsburgh, Vollono explained. “He had connections with Rockaway Hunt Club, and the people he was comfortable with, he gave them the inside track to homes here,” she said of Burton, adding that the houses were initially rented, then offered for sale.
Bankers, financiers and real estate developers settled in Woodsburgh. Maximillian Morgenthau, a real estate mogul from Manhattan, moved to the community. His Woodmere Realty Corp. picked up where Burton left off, Vollono said. “After the estates were sold off due to the Depression,” she said, “there was more development post-World War II.”