Then & Now

August 2014

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Approaching the mid 1700’s, a wealthy sea captain living on Block Island purchased two pieces of land on Cow Neck, now encompassing Port Washington and most of Manhasset.   One pieces was in near the tip of the peninsula, in what is now Sands Point.  The other was mid-way down the peninsula, consisting of about 300 acres in what is now Flower Hill.  Yes, that was 300 acres in what is now Flower Hill.  John Sands I purchased these two sections from the earliest landowners, owners of many “gates”, or sections of cow grazing land sectioned off by fences called “gates”.  A map had been drawn of the peninsula in 1709, later known as the Gates Rights Map, 

Still with me?  Good, because John gave this mid-peninsula property to his son, John Sands II, who named the proptery Inland Farm.  More sons & daughters were born, and there was this thing called The American Revolution which consumed just about everybody for quite a while, tapping the minds of the wisest minds this country has ever known.  A few generations later, his grandson, John Sands V sold 211 acres to Edmund Willets, a prominent Quaker, who expanded the house substantially, and even moved a nearby Greek Revival house to the property, attaching the new additions to the original Sands house.  Remember this is pre-Civil War, pre-electricity, pre-indoor plumbing.  By the late 1800’s the house looked like this:

SWH 1800's058

Eighty years later, in 1967, the founders of the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society (shown below) purchased the house from Miss Eliza Willets. Restoration has been going on ever since...

SWH Trustees 1968055


150 years after the blending of an original Sands house, with the larger home by Edmund Willet’s the Sands-Willets house has never looked better:

But the real beauty of the Sands-Willets House is best experienced walking through the parlors, the meeting room, the old Sands hearth kitchen and out-kitchens.  So you have two choices, and you really should pick BOTH of them.  First, mark your calendar for Saturday, September 27th, and plan to visit the Fall Country Fair, on the grounds of the Sands-Willets house, 336 Port Washington Blvd, just a block south of Uncle Giseppe’s.  The house can be toured, of course, and you can also enjoy the Rev War Re-enactors, the pony rides, wonderful music, food, vendors, face painting, our 17th century Dutch barn, and tons more.

Second is your opportunity to tour the house right now.  We’ll start you in the Sands out-kitchen, then let you wander from room to room, via the red pulsing hotspots, to get a sense of this beautiful jewel of a home in Port Washington.  This will give you a virtual taste, via our 360 degree virtual tour.  But DO plan to visit us at the Fair.  We’ll be glad to meet you in person.

Step inside the out-kitchen of the Sands-Willets House.

Then wander from room to room to room...

A few surprises await you!

The Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society
336 Port Washington Blvd., Port Washington, NY 11050-4530
(516) 365-9074  .