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Sands Point Hotel

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by Sophia Lian

 

A popular Victorian-style resort was built by B.B. Nostrand in 1850 on the tip of Sands Point, east of Sands Point Light. The Sands Point Hotel, known thereafter as Dunnsaugh & Doolittle Hotel in 1873 and Peck’s Hotel in 1891, brought visitors from New York City and working-class day-trippers from Long Island. Many of them came for the hotel’s amenities, including boating, concerts, and dancing on the lantern-lit piazza, enjoying what the waterfront hotel had to offer.

 

 

 


As described by Ernie Simon, the Sands Point Hotel was a “fashionable resort of the Victorian era.” The beautiful three-story building sat on top of a hill that looked over a beachfront with a pavilion and bathhouse on the lower grounds. The hotel could hold guests in up to 80 to 100 rooms, with a daily room rate of around $1 to $2. Some sailed their yachts over to visit, and 25 cents brought local people by stagecoach to enjoy the day. Large numbers of vacationers came from Manhattan, who traveled on the steamboats making daily trips connecting commuters from the North Shore of Long Island to the city. The steamship began running in 1837 for Cow Neck residents, and within a few years, many towns on the North Shore had steamship docks. Sands Point had steamboat landings on Hempstead Harbor near present-day Harbor Road in Harbor Acres and by Sands Point Light.

What is now Sands Point was a rural community with a few large farms and a sparse number of country houses. Cow Neck relied heavily on trade with Manhattan and New England, which the building of steamboat landings transformed. The Seawanhaka was one of the steamships, making daily trips between Peck Slip, near the Brooklyn Bridge, and Roslyn, stopping at North Shore towns along the way, including Sands Point. However, steamship accidents began to become more common as overcrowded steamships filled the waters of New York with insufficient safety regulations and improper ship design.

The 1880 steamship fire that killed over forty people, including those who drowned while fleeing and people who died from injuries, revealed shortcomings in the use of steamships. The incident began as the Seawanhaka made its daily trip between Hell Gate and Little Hell Gate when its boiler caught fire in the afternoon. Captain Charles P. Smith was left with few options, with no docks nearby and little room to move due to heavy boat traffic. Smith continued bravely navigating the ship onto marshland as flames spread.

 

Nevertheless, steamships remained a convenient way of traveling that brought customers to businesses in more remote areas, like the Sands Point Hotel.

Sadly, a fire spread throughout Sands Point Hotel hotel one night, which eventually destroyed the entire structure in the fall of 1892. However, its story lives on when we look at images of the Old Sands Points Hotel, which continue to remind us of the beauty of the historic hotel that once stood.

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Sources include:

  • CNPHS Archives

  • Discovering Sands Point - Its History, Its People, Its Places, by Joan Gay Kent, Village of Sands Point, 2000, pp 58-59.

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