Shore Road Historic District
The Shore Road Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The Shore Road Historic District is a small, intact residential enclave situated along the east shore of the harbor in the northwest quadrant of the unincorporated village of Cold Spring Harbor. Located several miles west of the unincorporated village of Huntington, Cold Spring Harbor lies on the steep eastern shores of that harbor. The Shore Road Historic District contains eighteen contributing buildings. Although the dwellings in the district date from the late eighteenth century to the turn of the twentieth century, the majority date from Cold Spring Harbor's early nineteenth century settlement. The Shore Road Historic District also contains two modern, non-contributing buildings.
A narrow, winding side street, Shore Road is the northern extension of Harbor Road and runs along the east shore of the harbor north of Main Street. The residences in the Shore Road Historic District are situated on the east side of the road at the foot of a steep wooded bluff. A small strip of undeveloped shoreline runs along the west side of the road. The dwellings occupy small, densely wooded plots and are uniformly set back from the street. Outbuildings are located to the sides and rear of the structures. The Shore Road Historic District is separated from the small commercial and residential core of the village to the south, which constitutes the Main Street Historic District, by a mix of modern and altered residences along Spring Street and a small town park. The boundary of the incorporated village of Lloyd Harbor forms the northern border of the Shore Road Historic District. Modern residential neighborhoods are located along the steep eastern bank above Shore Road.
Seven of the dwellings in the Shore Road Historic District date from the village's early nineteenth century settlement. Representative examples of local settlement period architecture, the residences exhibit the widely used three-bay side-entrance and five-bay center-entrance plans, shingle/clapboard sheathing, multi-pane fenestration, interior and end chimneys, and timber-framing. Their austere form is embellished only by modified Federal and Greek Revival style door surrounds, broad friezes, and cornice returns. However, Cold Spring Harbor's popularity as an affluent summer resort in the late nineteenth century affected these dwellings in particular with their harbor front locations and, as a result, many received period alterations and additions including bay windows, dormers, porches, and picturesque wooden ornament.
The oldest component in the Shore Road Historic District is the Henry Titus Farmstead, which distinctly marks the beginning of the street and district with its various outbuildings, multi-acre site, and large pond. Built c.1790, the dwelling and its related mid-nineteenth century outbuildings form a relatively intact farm complex consisting of representative examples of settlement period construction. The residence, which was greatly enlarged by nineteenth-century additions, features a Federal style door surround with fanlight and sidelights, a molded frieze, slender corner pilasters, and cornice returns. Although built during the mid and late nineteenth century, the farm's various outbuildings reflect settlement period construction in their basic form and plan but are embellished by eclectic, picturesque late nineteenth century architectural details.
Another fine example of settlement period architecture within the Shore Road Historic District is the Captain W. Abraham Sammis House. Although located just over the line in the adjacent village of Lloyd Harbor, the dwelling was built c.1830 as part of the village of Cold Spring Harbor. The Sammis Residence is a three-bay side-hall dwelling on a raised brick basement flanked by side wings. The residence is distinguished by prominent door and window surrounds including a Federal style surround with corner blocks and three-quarter sidelights. Porches were added to the facade in the late nineteenth century.
The John Dole House is the only dwelling in the Shore Road Historic District built during Cold Spring Harbor's late nineteenth century resort period. Constructed c.1875, the residence incorporates the conservative local building tradition in its symmetrical five-bay center-hall plan but also reflects the picturesque architectural styles of the Victorian period in its eclectic ornament. These decorative features include a steeply pitched central cross-gable with round-arched window and massive scroll-sawn brackets with drop pendants at the cornice.
Cold Spring Harbor's development from a popular summer resort into an affluent residential community at the turn of the century is illustrated in "Wawapek," the estate of businessman and civic leader Robert W. DeForest Built from 1898 to 1900 on the prominent bluff overlooking Shore Road, Wawapek is a distinctive example of twentieth-century estate architecture designed by prominent architect Grosvenor Atterbury. Reminiscent of late nineteenth century Adirondack lodges, the estate is constructed of cobblestone, brick and wood. The main house has varied fenestration, multiple roof-types, massive stone chimneys, circular towers and classically inspired architectural details including Palladian windows, door surrounds with pilasters, fanlights and sidelights, and porches with Doric and Ionic columns.
The Shore Road Historic District is architecturally and historically significant as a relatively intact collection of residences that illustrate the architectural practices and patterns of growth in Cold Spring Harbor from its late eighteenth century settlement to the turn of the twentieth century. The Shore Road Historic District's nine contributing buildings were constructed between c.1790 and 1900 with the majority dating from the early to mid-nineteenth century. The Shore Road Historic District contains several fine examples of the town's settlement period residential architecture featuring modified Federal and Greek Revival style details. It also includes a late nineteenth century dwelling and a turn-of-the-century estate that represent Cold Spring Harbor's development into a popular summer resort and affluent residential community. These two properties are fine examples of Victorian-period picturesque styles. "Wawapek," the DeForest Estate, is particularly important within the multiple resource area for its associations with the "Gold Coast" estate development along Long Island's north shore. The home of noted philanthropist, Robert W. DeForest, Wawapek was designed by the prominent New York City architect Grosvenor Atterbury in a style reminiscent of the great Adirondack lodges. The Shore Road Historic District includes a small, cohesive, largely intact collection of residential buildings which trace Cold Spring Harbor's late eighteenth century settlement, nineteenth century growth, and early twentieth century emergence as a fashionable residential community.
Although Huntington's economic and commercial activity was concentrated inland around the town green, the town's sheltered harbors were used from its mid-seventeenth century settlement. Located on the steep eastern shore of the harbor to the west of Huntington, Cold Spring Harbor played a prominent role in the town's early development. In 1682, the Cold Spring River, the town's western boundary, was dammed by John Adams to power saw and grist mills. The harbor to the north and the pond that was created to the south formed the physical focus and principal economic base of Cold Spring Harbor's development. Although several families settled here during the seventeenth century, no architectural resources from the period survive. By the close of the Revolutionary War, only a few families had settled on widely scattered farms throughout the area.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, several events occurred which shaped the future of Cold Spring Harbor. In 1791, Divine Hewlett and John Jones became partners in a grist mill venture while their families purchased the land bordering the mill pond and harbor. (The Hewlett-Jones Grist Mill Site is included in the Harbor Road Historic District.) On March 2, 1799, Cold Spring was made a Port of Delivery by an act of Congress, highlighting the important economic role the harbor was beginning to play. By 1810, John Jones had established a network of local industries in partnership with his brothers and members of the Hewlett family. By 1837, the Hewlett-Jones enterprises included two woolen factories, a barrel factory, brickyards, shipyards, and a general store. Cold Spring Harbor's late eighteenth and early nineteenth century historic core as developed by the locally prominent Jones and Hewlett families is represented in the Harbor Road Historic District. Another part of the village that developed at this time was the agricultural neighborhood along Goose Hill Road which is included in the Goose Hill Road Historic District.
Shore Road was settled in the late eighteenth century when Richard Conklin, a large land owner, dammed the area's stream and built a paper mill near the current junction of Shore Road and Main Street. When Conklin died in 1787, his son sold part of his estate to Henry Titus, a farmer who built his residence along Shore Road about 1790. The Henry Titus House was originally a two and one-half story, three-bay dwelling with a side-hall plan and small side wing. Although the house was greatly enlarged throughout the nineteenth century, it retains its overall historic appearance and architectural characteristics reminiscent of the local vernacular building tradition. Before his death in 1839, Titus acquired large land holdings along Shore Road and built various barns and outbuildings on his property. Although none of the original outbuildings survive, their mid-nineteenth century counterparts compose one of the few surviving farmsteads in Cold Spring Harbor.
From 1838 when the Cold Spring Whaling Company was formed until 1860, whaling and its related activities were the main livelihoods in Cold Spring Harbor. During this time, Main Street quickly emerged as the community's central residential and commercial core with the construction of a small commercial block and the residences of sea captains, merchants, and businessmen (see Main Street Historic District). During the community's prosperous period as a major whaling center, Shore Road was known as "Bedlam Street" and served as the major north/south route to the adjacent village of Lloyd Harbor. From 1830 to 1860, six additional residences were built along the road including three constructed by Henry Titus's children. All of the properties were originally three-bay side-hall plan settlement period dwellings with side kitchen wings that received numerous additions and alterations in the late nineteenth century when Cold Spring Harbor became popular as a summer resort. Unlike their settlement period counterparts along Harbor Road to the south, the Shore Road dwellings were constructed by farmers or sailors and are much smaller and simpler in form, plan and detail. Their simple, vernacular massing is embellished only by modified Federal and Greek Revival style architectural features at the cornice line or surrounds. Along with the Henry Titus House, the dwellings are important within the multiple resource area as representative examples of settlement period architecture and for their historical associations with Cold Spring Harbor's early nineteenth century settlement.
During the late 1860s, Cold Spring Harbor's whaling industry ended; however, the community's economy was bolstered by another emerging industry — tourism. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the village became a popular summer retreat, with its scenic shore attracting thousands of city visitors. The sudden popularity and newfound source of income had an impact on building practices and tastes throughout the village. Due to their choice waterfront locations, the dwellings along Shore Road received numerous wings and picturesque architectural details in the general remodelling process that occurred throughout the village. The only dwelling built along Shore Road during this period is the John Dole House. Built c.1875, the Dole House represents the widespread local building practice of combining the simple symmetry of settlement period architecture with the picturesque, eclectic details of the Victorian period. The symmetry of the five-bay center-hall plan of the residence is punctuated by a prominent cross-gable and a heavily bracketed cornice.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Cold Spring Harbor experienced another phase of social and architectural development which also had an impact on the town's north shore. Wealthy American industrialists based in New York City found Long Island's scenic north shore a suitable and convenient area to establish country and suburban estates. The term "Gold Coast" satirized the development of these large estates and country homes on or near the waterfront. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the "Gold Coast" dominated the north shore of Long Island with a virtually unbroken line of contiguous estates stretching from King's Point in Nassau County to Lloyd's Neck, town of Huntington, in Suffolk County. The majority of large estate building in the town of Huntington occurred around Cold Spring Harbor, on the east side, primarily in the village of Lloyd Harbor.
Robert DeForest's estate, "Wawapek," is related to Long Island's and Cold Spring Harbor's Gold Coast development and is prominently located near the center of the Shore Road Historic District. DeForest constructed his country home from 1898 to 1900 on a hill overlooking Shore Road. The building of Wawapek coincided with a turning point in the history of Cold Spring Harbor for it was around the turn of the century that the community gradually shifted away from its position as a fashionable summer resort and, instead, started to develop as a semi-rural, affluent residential suburb of New York City. This role was forced upon it in part by wealthy industrialists, like DeForest, who chose the area for their country estates as well as by other less wealthy but still fairly affluent visitors who has "summered" there and then decided to make it their year-long residence. DeForest was a wealthy businessman who was active in various civic causes, including the preservation of the Adirondack wilderness.
Designed by Grosvenor Atterbury, Wawapek incorporates elements of the Shingle style and the rustic, unrefined features characteristic of Adirondack lodges. Unlike many of the period Long Island estates, which were characterized by pretentious mansions and formal, classical gardens, Wawapek was purposely designed to resemble a rugged, picturesque country retreat. The mansion itself is distinguished by an irregular plan, varied fenestration, and heights of one to three stories. Massive stone chimneys, shed dormers, eyebrow windows, and circular towers accentuate the various roof types. (A gatehouse was built for the estate's Main Street entrance in 1910. Separated from the estate by modern residential development, it is an integral part of the village streetscape and has been included in the Main Street Historic District.)
A close friend of DeForest, Grosvenor Atterbury (1869-1956) was a prominent New York City architect who enjoyed a long and successful career designing large-scale country estates and city townhouses for many of the city's most affluent and well-known families. Wawapek reflects Atterbury's attention to detail and craftsmanship, his command of the eclectic picturesque forms of the late nineteenth century, and his use of natural materials to produce an elegant yet rustic design. The first residential design of his long and distinguished career, Wawapek remains as one of the Atterbury's most significant achievements.
Historically important as one of the earliest estates constructed along the harbor's eastern shore, Wawapek remains a unique example of its type and style within the multiple resource area. Still serving as the DeForest Homestead, Wawapek is one of the few remaining privately owned mansions on Long Island's north shore. The DeForest Estate completes the Shore Road Historic District's progression of historic architectural and social development and together with the surrounding nineteenth-century dwellings remains as part of a significant collection of period residences set in the picturesque hills of northeastern Cold Spring Harbor.