Massapequa Manor

8
1640

Tryon Hall was the first large estate built in the Massapequas by a Jones family member. The next estate was named Massapequa Manor and was completed in 183MassManor_022015B7. In this case, the builder was also a judge, as was David Jones of Tryon Hall. His name was David S. Jones, son of Samuel Jones, who was a grandson of Thomas Jones. Samuel became a Judge after the Revolution and is known as the “Father of the New York Bar” for organizing the legal profession and the court system in New York State. He was also instrumental in securing ratification of the U. S. Constitution by New York State’s delegation in 1788.

David S. Jones was born in 1777 and died in 1848. He graduated from Columbia College in 1796 and held several positions in state and local government, including New York City Corporation Counsel from 1813 to 1816. He was later named a Judge in Queens County, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. In 1836, he retired and built a large mansion on the east bank of the Massapequa River. The Manor was a large stone structure, with 11 steps leading up to an extensive front porch, with two mahogany front doors opening into a wide and deep parlor. Four Greek columns adorned the front and the manor was reached by a long circular driveway. There were 20 rooms inside, with the smaller third floor rooms occupied by servants. The building faced onto Merrick Road, with the Massapequa River to the west. There were several small buildings for servants and equipment behind and to the east, as well as a polo field and a racetrack. The property ran as far north as today’s Massapequa Avenue and as far east as Old Grace Church.

In order to improve the view looking westward, David Jones dammed Massapequa River several hundred feet north of Merrick Road, drying out an area that became Massapequa Lake. He employed laborers to dig out the area, using teams of horses pulling metal scoops, and piling dirt along its sides to create a shore for his 100-acre lake. A large boathouse was built on the east shore, with a fireplace, a kitchen, a dining area with a dance floor and a deck with a railing encircling it. The Joneses would entertain guests and would launch rowboats that were used to explore the lake.

David Jones also created an island in the middle, which he named Mary’s Island in honor of his wife Mary Clinton, the daughter of Governor De Witt Clinton. Mary was David’s third wife, his first two wives having died during childbirth. Strikingly, she had six children, four of whom died in childbirth or shortly thereafter. In fact, David had 18 children with his three wives, and only seven of them survived to adulthood. His history is a clear example of the difficulties related to childbirth experienced by so many people in the 1800s, even people as wealthy and influential as the Joneses, who would have had access to quality medical care.

David Jones experienced financial difficulties after completing Massapequa Manor and was forced to return to work in New York City. He built a small house in Maspeth and spent most of his time there. Toward the end of his life, he sold Massapequa Manor to his cousin William Floyd-Jones, who owned it into the 1880s and gave it to his daughter Jennie Floyd-Jones. Jennie was married to William Robison, who owned one of the first automobiles driven on Long Island. He was known as a daredevil for riding his car as fast as forty miles per hour on roads that were little more than dirt paths.

Massapequa Manor passed from the Jones/Floyd-Jones family when the Robisons sold it to the Carroon family in the early 1900s. They lived there until after World War II. It was during this time that the lake became known as Carroon’s Lake and is still called that today by people who associate it with the owners. As the population increased, the lake became very popular for fishing in the summers and ice skating in the winters. Population growth, as well as the expenses of maintaining such a large building and several related buildings, led the Carroons to sell it to a developer, who planned to construct homes on the several acres. The manor lay empty and was used by vagrants, teenagers and others who were looking for someplace to hang out.

On Nov. 30, 1952 the building caught fire and burned to the ground very quickly, allowing the developer to build many houses on the extensive property. The present names of roads such as Cambridge, Oxford, Polo, Surrey and Rugby attest to the old-English background of the manor property. These roads are arranged irregularly in a meandering fashion, reflecting the pastoral character of the area and underlining its historical significance.

George Kirchmann is a trustee of the Historical Society of the Massapequas.  Email him at gvkirch@optonline.net.

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George Kirchman is a writer for Massapequa Observer, specializing in features about local history.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I was in Caroon’s mansion once or twice before it burned down. I was only 8 years old but i remember it as a Huge place , and it was full of excitement for a kid , new to LI just moving here from Virginia. It burned down shortly after I was in it. I remember one piece of furniture , a long , floor to ceiling (almost) mirror with a gilded gold frame that leaned against one wall and when I walked by it it scared the H out of me because I caught my reflection and it scared the H out of me. My friends and I stayed by the lake most of the time . There was a stone chimney right at the waters edge . It could have been for the fireplace in a house or some summer outside thing .Also , there were poles sunk in the lake bottom that looked like they supported a floor for cabin of some sort (?) they disappeared slowly over the years.

    • That might have been the boathouse that had the kitchen, dining area, dance floor area and deck. I was never in the mansion, but I remember ice skating on the lake and one year, Mrs. Foy, who taught 7th grade, took the entire class over to the lake shore for a picnic lunch as a celebration of the end of the school year in June.

  2. Like Mike Loftus and Richard Hausrath [see below], this article brought back memories of adventures exploring the mansion as a child, and remembering being awakened on the night of the fire and seeing a red sky from our house on Rugby Road, then going to see the fire that night and smouldering ruins the next day.

  3. Massapequa Manor was owned by my grandfather Richard A Corroon (mispelled in the article above) He had 10 children and the last one who is still alive was born there in the house. My mother recently passed away at age 98. I have always heard wonderful stories of my aunts and uncles and mother growing up there, parties in the boathouse by the lake and polo matches on weekends. We always thought the Mary’s Island was named for the oldet daughter Mary. It was a wonderful house.

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