A Twentieth Century
History of Munsey Park
(1930 - 1936)
Growth continued. Subdivision “D” extending eastward on Park Avenue to Remington Road, then south to Revere Road and west back to Manhasset Woods Road had been mapped in November 1929.The model home now at 16 Revere Road was illustrated for the opening of this section.
No provision had been made previously for recreational areas and allowance was now to be made for creation of a 7 acre park; or alternatively, 3 ½ acres for a park and another 3 ½ for the construction of a village community house.
The Manhasset School Board was becoming concerned with the “already crowded condition of the local schools” -- enrollment in 1930 was up to 834 -- and proposed the acquisition of approximately 10 acres of Munsey Park ground that had been set aside by the Museum for this purpose. This was the property just east of Manhasset Woods Road , 1,000 feet fronting on North Hempstead Turnpike, which had been offered for $55,000. This was an exceptional value since the Museum’s agents had been selling adjoining property at prices “up to $25,000 per acre”. On March 31, 1930 , 123 out of 196 voters approved the purchase.
In May 1930, the Village Board enacted a Code of General Ordinances which dealt with motor vehicles, village roads, signs, refuse and garbage, explosives, trees and shrubbery and even unnecessary noise. Assessed value had risen to $1,350,000 with 148 occupied homes and a total population of 470. Election District No. 1 in Manhasset was split in June 1930 to take in additional residents of Munsey Parkand the Flower Hill sections. The brick pillars at village entrances on Park Avenue and Manhasset Woods Road were given over that October, on condition that henceforth the village would be responsible for maintainance and lighting costs.
Total sales of Munsey Park plots and houses for 1930 rose over $1,000,000, at a time when a new “Ford Convertible Cabriolet cost $625 FOB Detroit, bumpers and spare tire extra at low cost”! The entire tax receipts for the village for the 1930-31 year was only $2,500.19.
A business district for the convenience of local residents was of importance, and soon plans for the erection of a commercial building of harmonious styling at the Munsey Park Shopping Center were underway. Again it was emphasized that this was one of many signs pointing toward prosperity in Manhasset, with its excellent real estate values. The commercial building would not only have space for nine stores on North Hempstead Turnpike with off-street parking, but also a fine community meeting room to be furnished by W.& J. Sloane and with its own kitchen facilities. It was opened officially June 1, 1931 , shortly after the election in March of Marion Rodgers, the Village’s second Mayor.
An adjoining Subdivision “E” was mapped in July 1931. It took in the remaining property west ofRemington Road a well as the area surrounding the present Village Hall on Sargent Place and the school grounds. Interestingly, both Sargent Place and Remington Road were to connect with North Hempstead Turnpike originally. Remington, south of Abbey Road , was deeded to the school in 1940. Sargent Placewas terminated at its present turnaround in 1936. Hunt Lane was also relocated; heading east it turned south at the school on what is today’s Abbey Road . The present continuation of Hunt was called Valley Road until 1934, then renamed Sargent Road until 1935 when it was finally changed to Hunt Lane .
On the Fourth of July in 1931 a dazzling fireworks display witnessed by over 1,000 people was staged by the Munsey Park Association in what is now the center of the village, but were then empty lots on the east side of Manhasset Woods Road.
In October 1931 Subdivision “G” east of Manhasset Woods Road just north of Park Avenue to ‘pollywog pond’ was mapped for development. The Museum was to permit the free temporary use of lands adjoining the small pond in 1933, although it would be several more years before the area was deeded over as a park.
That Christmas recorded a first visit at the Abbey Road circle of Santa Claus, establishing a tradition that has continued to the present, excepting the war years.
The Munsey Park Women’s Club was formed on Tuesday, January 12, 1932 with Mrs. Howard Abel as its first president. Almost a half century later this village organization still continues its excellent social programs confirming the truth of a statement made at its 20th Anniversary Celebration in 1952 by Mrs. John Harlow, “The foundation is so strong all we need is to add a brick or so each year that is worthy of so good a foundation.”
A most significant event occurred May 29, 1932 with the formal opening of a new 18-hole, 6,600 yard, par 71 Munsey Park Golf Club with accommodations for 400 members. The course layout occupied the Museum’s property from Port Washington Boulevard (this was named Searingtown Road until December 1937) to Remington Road; and from North Hempstead Turnpike (also renamed in 1937, to Northern Boulevard) to the Flower Hill line, with the exception of development abutting Park Avenue.
A statement that “the fourteenth with its obligatory water carry of 175 yards is destined for fame and perhaps some notoriety”, was an apt description of the present Copley Pond area, with the tee on the present grounds of the Congregational Church. A year later the 14th was improved by the addition of a fairway around the (Copley Pond) water hazard. Regular golf dues for 1933 were $100 and house membership $40.
The Club House later became the popular “Antlers” meeting place for the Elks - although it was a popular meeting hall for every social affair. In 1943 it was used by the Congregational Church members, then became Patricia Murphy’s Candlelight Restaurant after 1949, and finally a steakhouse until it was demolished to make way for the new Benihana Restaurant at that site today.
A remarkable aerial view of this area on microfilm in the July 6, 1933 issue of the Manhasset Mail shows the golf course and as yet undeveloped east end of Munsey Park. Park Avenue led directly toNorthern Boulevard and was ‘temporarily’ closed in June 1932; it became necessary to drive in front of the golf club toPort Washington Boulevard .
Traffic in the village had become a problem; the Sixth Precinct agreed to place a motorcycle patrol on Park Avenue for the morning and evening rush hours, and to add a third patrolman to the two already supported by the village.
The tax rate for the 1932-33 year was reduced from 57¢ to 37¢ because of the new construction, higher assessed valuations and the Village Board’s awareness of the existing depression cycle.Nevertheless, a petition signed by 150 village property owners was filed with the North Hempstead Assessors protesting that the village had been assessed out of all proportion to the unincorporated areas.Putting this into proper context, consider that the L.I.R.R. announced at the same time it was reducing its weekend roundtrip fares to New Yorkfrom $1.25 to 69¢ to stimulate weekend travel!
In January 1933 the Munsey Park Association announced a membership of 187 out of the 216 families in the village, and two months later Harold B. Callis became the third Mayor of Munsey Park. In May an interesting letter to the Manhasset Mail was written by Ernest G. Blaich, the realtor, stating that while many homes were being offered at distress prices local homes seldom, if ever, were on the foreclosure lists. This spoke well for both the homes and the homeowners of Munsey Park . It was not revealed until 1951 that an “Emergency Committee of Munsey Park” had been formed in 1933 consisting of H.B. Callis, W.L. Longyear, Eric N. Plump, Marion Rodgers, C.E. Rollins and Fred W. Wulfing.
This ‘Committee’ had collected funds from village residents during that depression period for the sole purpose of lending aid unobtrusively to Munsey Parkers who were on the edge of mortgage foreclosures. In 1951 when some $268 remaining in this fund was turned over to the Civil Defense Committee the work of these men became known. According to a March 8, 1951 column of the Manhasset Mail, “It was one of the finest neighborly acts which has ever taken place in a North Shore Community.”
By January 1934 when a Munsey Park Association survey indicated there were 540 residents in the village - as well as 90 dogs - the Board of Education was considering possible sites for a high school, with the likely intention of using the Munsey Park grounds for a grade school. The school population had risen to 1155 in September 1933, and when put to the voters in October 1934 the community approved acquisition of the Thompson property near Thompson Shore Road for the new high school. The vote was 493 for vs 351 against, thought by some to have been caused by a strong turnout of MunseyPark voters who wanted to ensure no high school at their location.
In 1935 Fred W. Wulfing was elected as Munsey Park ’s fourth Mayor. His was to be a most productive administration and many of this Board’s far-sighted decisions have effects still felt today. Among these was the proposal to deadend all through streets, excepting Park Avenue for east-west traffic, andManhasset Woods Road for north-south.
Dead-ended streets eventually included Thayer and Ryder Roads south, and Hunt Lane west all of which abutted William Levitt’s “Strathmore in Manhasset”; and also Eakins Road and Nassau Avenue north on the Flower Hill line. All, with the exception of Hunt Lane , eventually had stone walls erected across as traffic barriers. Neighboring sections were requesting outlets through village roads but with no compulsion to contribute toward their maintainance. The action of the Village Board was upheld in a test case by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in 1936, although some forty years later the Hunt Lane closing was reversed because no permanent physical barrier had been constructed.
A second important decision by Wulfing’s board, initiated in 1938, was to acquire a 10' perimeter guard strip along Northern Boulevard . A later village board similarly obtained a 1 foot strip along part of the Port Washington Boulevard perimeter; and again in 1979 a 10 foot buffer separating the residential and business districts near Bonwit Teller. The importance of these village properties is that by prohibiting direct access from outside they effectively inhibit any commercial incursion.
In January 1936 Subdivision “F” was sited for homes along Park Avenue from Remington Road eastward to Martin Place . The Park Avenue south houses were resubdivided into a portion of Section “K” withAbbey Road resurveyed to loop back into Park Avenue, east .
In May 1936 the Munsey Park Garden Club of the Munsey Park Women’s Club held its first Flower Show, with winners for twelve classes of flowers.
By the end of 1936 the Metropolitan Museum , the village’s largest taxpayer, was still operating the Munsey Park Golf Club at a continuing deficit. In fairness, they offered a one-year renewal of club operations which, seeing the handwriting on the wall, the club members declined, and “a pleasant page in Manhasset’s history nears its end.”