HISTORICAL CORNER

The Scully Estate

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Each week, reporter and history-lover Mariana Dominguez visits a historical location on Long Island. This week she visited the Scully Estate in Islip, which is part of the Suffolk County Environmental Center.

I truly feel that the Scully Estate and Suffolk County Environmental Center is one of the hidden gems of the South Shore. I have lived on the South Shore my whole life, and until very recently was unaware of the estate. According to the site’s website, the Suffolk County Environmental Center is a public nature center that opened on Earth Day 2010 and is operated by the Seatuck Environmental Association. The grounds of the nature center are gorgeous, and visitors can meander through woods and marshes as well as marvel at the stunning Scully Estate. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the building is currently closed to the public, but visitors can still see the historic building and explore the grounds.

According to information from Seatuck’s website, “from the late 1880s until the early part of the 20th century, the estate was part of Windholme Farm, a nearly 300-acre ‘gentleman’s farm’ that included the 200-acre Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge on the east side of South Bay Avenue.” The farm was owned by Samuel and Adaline Peters, city dwellers who spent their summers on the Great South Bay. The property was passed down to the Peterses’s children Harry and Louisine, who divided the land.

The stunning manor on the property was built for Louisine Peters and her husband Harold Weekes, in 1917. The architect Grosvenor Atterbury, known for designing the Forest Hill Gardens and part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, designed the home.  Ms. Peters passed her property to her daughter, Hathaway, who used the last name Scully. In the late 1960s, Mrs. Scully committed to donating the property to the National Audubon Society and noted that her wish was for the property to become a wildlife sanctuary and nature center. Samuel Peters’s daughter, Natalie Peters Webster, also decided to gift her property to the federal government for the creation of the Seatuck Wildlife Refuge. Her husband, Charles Webster, would later found the Seatuck Environmental Association.

In 2004, Suffolk County purchased the 70-acre property from Audubon. The manor on the estate houses Seatuck’s offices and the Suffolk County Environmental Center. The chateau is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From 2006 to 2010, the county conducted a significant restoration of the building.

Seatuck hosts many events at the site, including the upcoming Wild & Scenic Film Festival on May 20. The hybrid, in-person and virtual event will allow attendees to enjoy multiple never-before-seen films, a cocktail hour, live music, and local craft beer. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit seatuck.org.

Another great thing about Seatuck is that they offer a plethora of educational programs for children as well as the general public, including after-school and summer programs. Overall, the estate is a great place to get in touch with nature and explore the wonders of the South Shore.

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