Sands-Willets House Tours in 2020
The Sands-Willets House (circa 1735)
336 Port Washington Blvd.
Port Washington, NY 11050
2020 Museum Hours & Tours
No normal house tours in 2020, due to the pandemic. Stay safe & healthy!
Donations happily accepted.
The Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society owns, maintains and operates the Sands-Willets House as a public museum, educational center and exhibition venue. The house is typical of the prosperous Long Island farmhouses of the 18th and 19th centuries that grew to fit the needs of the families who lived in them. It is one of the few buildings of its kind still standing in the Town of North Hempstead and Nassau County. The house, built on a peninsula known in earlier times as ‘Cow Neck,’ is a Village of Flower Hill Historic Landmark, is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and is featured as a historical site on the New York State Revolutionary War Heritage Trail.
This grand homestead is named for two distinguished Long Island families. First were the Sands family, merchants and farmers, who built and lived in the original west wing of the house from c.1735 to 1845. In the late 1600s, the Sands were among the first English families to settle on Cow Neck. Seven brothers, who were all born in the Sands (western) wing of the house, served and fought in the American Revolution. One of these brothers, a minuteman, Colonel John Sands IV, 1737-1811, was with George Washington's army at the Battle of Brooklyn Heights.
The Willets were the second family to give their name to the house. In 1845, Edmund Willets purchased the original Sands' homestead and its surrounding farm. Willets was a prominent Quaker and an active abolitionist prior to the Civil War. In 1850, Willets built and connected a large Greek-Revival style building to the east end of the old Sands' house creating the final footprint of the Sands-Willets House.
Over the years, the Willets made many changes to the exterior and interior of old Sands wing giving it the appearance we see today. In 1967, the estate of Miss Eliza Willets, a descendant of Edmund, sold the house to our Society who then took over its care.
The Sands-Willets House has been undergoing restoration and renovations ever since it was purchased by the Society. Starting with the restoration of its Colonial Hearth Kitchen in the the Sands' wing and the refurbishment of the high 19th century ceilings in the Willets' wing, the decades have seen the additions of an electrical system overhaul, the installation of an air conditioning system, a new heating system and the house’s exterior surface painted and painted again. However, the preservation process is a continuing one demanding constant attention to this historical treasure for it to continue to be the educational resource that it is today.