Friday, June 19, 2009

A Lakeview Gem - One More on EJ Jennings

As stated in my blog description above, one of the purposes of this website is to provide "then and now" visual perspectives of West Hempstead subjects. Old photos of West Hempstead are not easy to come by, but the ones that do exist and are accessible give us a glimpse of our rural beginnings and how different WH used to look like in the old days.

Thus far, all the subjects we have studied reveal "now" shots that show completely different landscapes from what once existed in the "then" shot. What was once a beautiful Victorian home is now a gas station. What used to be a hospital campus is now a housing development, etc. The unfortunate result is that either the subject in an old photo no longer exists today, or that the few old structures that are still around in WH don't have old photos readily available with which to compare the "now" shot. On rare occasions, the same subject exists in both the "then" and "now" photos, showing how the subject evolved over time.

In the piece below, we have found one such subject.

The following photo below comes from a 1904 Brooklyn Eagle article about the up and coming community of Lakeview. Entitled "A Typical Lakeview Home", this photo accompanying the article depicts a modest home built on an embankment, with a man and a woman posing on the front porch.

Delightfully, the house still stands today at 715 Woodfield Rd, albeit with some considerable modifications (see below). The exterior has been converted from clapboard to stucco, the porch has been enclosed, and the rear has been extended, leaving little resemblance to the original structure.

Who owned the house? None other than our own E J Jennings. Unfortunately the property record card is missing for this home at the Nassau County Dept of Assessment website. So how am I so sure that this was the Jennings home? A few reasons:

1) Much of the Brooklyn Eagle article dwelled on Jennings, so it's fair to assume that the reporter used his home for the photo.

2) Both photos show the home was built on a deep embankment. On the bottom right of the "then" shot is what appears to be a pond, consistent with the location of the home in the contemporary shot.

3) The shapes of the homes in both photos are identical (except for the modifications done over the years shown in the "now" shot) including a unique five window arrangement affronting the house on the second floor. Before the era of big housing developments on Long Island, it was rare to have two homes built exactly alike.

4) Most convincing of all are the two images below comparing the 1914 Belcher Hype map with the Google sattelite image. Jennings' property was eventually sold and developed as Lake View Park, sometimes also referred to as Birdhaven because of the names of the streets of that section. But as the 1914 map indicates, he still lived on a small piece of that property in a house on Woodfield Rd right on the pond, until he died in 1925. I have labeled the image on the right to show where that home is located today.


Jon said...

Hi! I love your blog. It's so interesting to find some West Hempstead history on the internet.

I'd love to learn the history of Munson. I lived on Munson Avenue as a kid and always wondered, what's the history of the creek that parallelled it? Looking at maps, it almost seems to flow from Herricks down to the South Shore if you trace a path.

Where was the town of Munson? Why did it disappear?

Why are the schools setup so weird? I lived two blocks from West Hempstead H.S., but went to Carey and John Street... was there some school district gerrymandering?

If you have any information on these topics, I'd love it.

Jacob said...


Thanks for your interest in my blog. There is really a ton of history on Munson, which I hope to elaborate on in future posts. Actually, the oldest neighborhood in WH is Munson, which originally centered around the intersection of Nassau Blvd and Hempstead Tpke. The neighborhood underwent numerouus name changes, starting with Trimming Square from the 18th cent. to mid 19th cent, then Washington Square to the turn of the 20th cent. when it was changed to Munson in honor of decorated Civil War vet Harry Munson who moved to the area in 1895. The first school in WH was built at the corner of Nassau Blvd and Dogwood Ave in the early 1800s and its district (#17) originally encompassed all the area west of Hempstead Village until a separate district (#27) was broken off from it in 1911. SD #27 originally centered around the Chestnut Street School so school choldren who lived near Nassau Blvd were still kept in SD #17 even after the WH High School was built on Nassau Blvd in 1952.

Perhaps the most famous resident of Munson (albeit for a brief time) was a young Walt Whitman who was schoolmaster in 1840.

There is so much more to write about but I'll leave you with that for now.

Anonymous said...

I was born in Lakeview in 1925. You
show a picture of the Jennings house
Behind the house was "Jenneys" pond
which had an island in it. It connected with Haginburgers pond, it
went under The Southern Pkwy. At that
point it became Limbauchs pond. a stream from that ran under a dirt road
to Feltons Farm. (my wifes family) then a stream down behind the fire house. I think it was called Schodak
Creek at that point.

Anonymous said...

i have to look thru old photos..our house was on the corner of lincoln and jennings, and our 9 car garage was supposedly a firehouse when they used horses. the house originally had 3 small bedrooms, and wooden shingles, no back is sided, with a lare extention on the side, and a back porch. there also was a very tall pine tree in front that was cut down in the 1960's.

Ian Stovall said...

Pretty sure that build was owned by people that took in "troubled" boys from the city in the '60 & '70's.

Fred Limbach said...

I grew up on my Grandfather's,Fred Limbach, farm on Woodfield rd. until he sold the farm in 1949. I spent many days on a row boat on his pond and Hagenbergers.

D. Moon said...

Great blog. Any idea how lakeview came to be predominantly African American with the surrounding towns (west Hempstead, malverne, Rockville centre) being predominantly non-African American?