History Hidden in Plain Sight

Miller's Pond


Hattie Miller (1865-1961) lived on Merrick Road in a stately wood-framed house surrounded by tall pine trees. Merrick Road at that time was not a heavily used thoroughfare – think plank road and horse-drawn carriages. A rustic split-rail fence ran along the north and south sides of the road. The house (located where the King Kullen parking lot stands today) expanded through the years, keeping pace with the “receptions and teas” that helped raise funds for Miller’s favorite philanthropies – including the Fortnightly Club, a literary group for women that was formed in 1898 and is still in existence.

South of Merrick Road, across from the Miller homestead, was Miller’s Pond. The pond was bounded on the east by Ballard Avenue and the west by Verona Place. “The pond was the showplace of the Village. The little islands in the brook were all neatly taken care of,” reminisced Howard Freeman in his 1989 oral history recording. Hattie hosted card parties on the larger of the pond’s islands, where temporary bridges transported her guests. The island’s trees, according to a local arborist, were thought to be red maple, paper birch, and swamp white oak. In another interview from 1988, the Gear sisters – Florence and Mary, recalled, “We would take a flat-bottom boat out on the pond and push it under Merrick Road.” Look carefully at this 1910 postcard and you can see the underpass and the split rail fence!

In the late 1930s, the pond was filled in, the property sold and developed. But traces of this bygone landmark cannot be erased. A narrow waterway trickles south towards the Village Green, where it flows under Sunrise Highway into Cahill Park (Mill/Watts Pond), continuing under Mill Road into Hook Creek, Jamaica Bay, and finally the Atlantic Ocean.

Location: south of Merrick Road (between Ballard Avenue and Verona Place)