News

Lost Communities, Part II

1. "Twenty Minutes to Herald Square (When the Subways Are Completed)" said the 1906 advertising campaign to sell lots in Nassau Heights, the school district's first real "neighborhood" with streets and blocks. Seventeen streets named for military and political figures from the 1898 Spanish-American War were laid out south of I.U. Willets Road on the east side of Searingtown Road, plus four additional streets south of the current Abilities! campus. The streets east of Grant Avenue were laid out in 1909, marketed as Albertson Square. A decade later, there were about 200 people living in these streets. These families were a mix of home owners and renters, commuters and local workers. Many were Polish, German, Irish, Scandinavian and other immigrants who worked as managers, laborers and skilled workers on farms, estates and golf courses. Both the first fire company (1910) and the first public water supply system (1918) based within the school district served the homes of Nassau Heights and Albertson Square. By 1929, the streets were paved, stores lined Willis Avenue and there was now an Albertson Post Office. Albertson Square had expanded east of Willis Avenue and it became the tail that wagged the dog; the name Nassau Heights faded before the Second World War. A few of the early Nassau Heights houses still exist.

2. In 1786, the new county courthouse and seat of government was opened a few hundred feet from what is now the northwest corner of Jericho Turnpike and Herricks Road. The area quickly got nicknamed "Clowesville," most certainly after Samuel Clowes (1722-1800) a high-ranking Queens County judge who purchased a house nearby. To many of the lawyers and others who had to trudge out there for official business, the dingy courthouse seemed to be truly in the middle of nowhere, and the name Clowesville may not have been exactly complimentary (half a century later, there was still just a single tavern and a few inns renting rooms nearby, among the scattered houses). On court days, farmers sold snacks, ales and liquor from booths (drunkenness at court was a longtime problem), and there were occasional fairs and other entertainments. In 1837, the railroad connected Jamaica and Hicksville, and on the days the courts or the Board of Supervisors (the county legislature) were in session, trains would make a Clowesville stop at approximately the location of the present Merillon Avenue Station (the fare from Brooklyn was 37 and one-half cents for many years). A permanent post office was opened in the courthouse, the first in North Hempstead township, and the vicinity was officially referred to as "North Hempstead" or "North Hempstead Post Office." Clowesville was still the common name of this place during the Civil War, but went out of use when the courthouse closed in 1877, probably having lost meaning.

3. For more than a century, until the years just before the Civil War, Tanner's Pond was recognized in records, wills and other documents as the name of the area around the current Denton Avenue School, where there was a small lake by that name until the 1950s. This place name was supplanted by Plattsdale, though the pond kept the name until it was filled in.

4. The area "northward of Herricks upon ye hills on ye east side of the Cow Neck-Herricks Road" (a 1756 reference) was known as the "North Woods" until the 1760s, when the name Searingtown came into common use.


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