Fiddlers Green Association

Lloyd Neck, New York


          FIDDLER”S GREEN- A HALF CENTURY

 

                                By Walter D. Kolos

 

 

The story of Fiddlers Green began a little over half a century ago when an enthusiastically venturesome group decided to forge a community from a seemingly primeval remnant of the North Shore.  It was a daring vision which became a remarkable reality.

 

In the early 1950’s, Harrison Finch, a pilot for TWA, was looking for property on Long Island.  In 1954 Finch was the pilot of flight to London chartered by Marshall Field III.  In the course of conversation during the trip, Finch learned that Marshall Field was interested in selling off the eastern portion of his estate on Lloyd Neck to lessen his tax burden.

 

FGA Drive circa 1950

 

The parcel consisted of 374 acres, and was much too large for Finch’s needs.  However, he found the offer enticing, and contacted a lawyer to facilitate the formation of a corporation to purchase the acreage. In 1954, The Construction Corporation of Long Island was created to purchase the eastern section of the 374 acres, with the option to buy the balance as money was invested. Finch immediately sent letters to friends and neighbors inviting them to invest.

 

Caumsett,” the estate of Marshall Field, was considered to be one of the grandest residences in the United States.  Used as a “country” home, this vast property of over 1,800 acres had the facilities for every sport but golf.  The years following the Second World War proved to be trying for most estate owners, with the increase in property and income taxes, not to mention the difficulty in securing help.  It was this predicament which forced Field into selling off some of his land holdings.

 

The 374 acre parcel which would become Fiddler’s Green was a heavily wooded area, with a couple of meadows and lowland swamps.  It was noted for its magnificent stands of native dogwood, most of which succumbed to the blight of the early 1980’s.  Used primarily for pheasant shoots and fox hunting, the land was traversed by several firebreaks which were designed to inhibit the spread of forest fires.  Broad Path was one of the major east-west firebreaks.  Horse Neck Path was a vestige of the original Lloyd Harbor Road, which had been bypassed to the south in the early 1920’s.  There were no structures on the property, except for a servant’s cabana near the present beach house.

 

Harrison Finch envisioned a road plan that would preserve as much of the natural beauty as possible. The side streets would be arranged like the branches of a tree, all with dead ends to provide maximum safety for children.  A beach on the Sound would be prepared with a drag line, and just behind it, a clearing for an athletic field and small parking lot would be created. 

 

To locate investors, Finch used the addresses in the Airlines Pilot’s Association lists, and as a result, many of the original sixty investors were pilots.  However, the formation of the community was not limited to those in that profession.  Finch’s doctor, lawyer and others were also participants in the venture.

FGA Firetruck

 

As soon as enough money was in the corporation, lots were laid out and roads planned, with the first investors having their choice of plots.  Eventually, the remaining piece of Marshall Field’s easterly acreage was purchased.  Harrison Finch served as the president of the corporation, with Albert A. Bliss as vice president.

 

The potential homebuilders formed a club, the forerunner of the Fiddler’s Green Association.  Meeting at the American Legion Hall in Hicksville, architects, builders and others were invited to speak.  The first president of the organization was Milford Sater, an Eastern Airlines pilot who was noted for his superb organizational skills.  His wife became the first social chairlady, and she scheduled gatherings which have become traditional events. The Fiddler’s Green Association was incorporated on August 8th, 1955.

 

The initial plan for Fiddler’s Green was done by Edward Stone of New York, the architect who designed the Museum of Modern Art and Radio City Music Hall.  Andrew Pizzanelli was retained to continue Stone’s design work, and also to engineer the development.  The original members were relatively young, and without a lot of money.  Consequently, much of the work of developing the community property at the beach and the harbor was done by volunteers.

 

 

The origin of the name “Fiddler’s Green” is one of the most frequently asked questions.  The phrase “Fiddler’s Green” is steeped in maritime legend.  British seamen often referred to the mariner’s heaven or paradise by using this name—“a place of unlimited rum and tobacco.”   Our particular Fiddler’s Green was taken from a title of a book written by Ernie Gann, a pilot and friend of some of the early founders.  It was a novel about fishermen “where credit is good……where there’s many a lass and many a glass…and never a stormy sea.”

 

 

Fiddler’s Green has thrived remarkably over the years, and has changed very little considering the tumultuous alterations that have swept through the region.   It has not only succeeded maintaining the vision of its founders, but it has enhanced it.  Although there have been “many a stormy sea,” it has weathered them well, and we are sure will continue to do so.

 

 

Many thanks to Marge Bamman for her information and reminiscences, which were invaluable for the writing of this article.

FGA Drive 1950