BUSINESSES:  WEST SAYVILLE -

MAIN STREET TO THE BAY

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C. VanWyen General Store/ Lillian's Bridal

 

 

 "Doodle" Otto/Lightner # 1 Boat Yard

 

 

 

Dykstra/Lambdin Boat Yard

 

 

Sam Jorgensen Boat Yard

 

 

 

 

Lightner's Boat Yard #2

 

 

Clyde Street Today

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Atlantic Street (now Avenue)

 

 

Above: Suffolk County News, April 21, 1916; others, various dates until  last,  May 1931

 

 

 

66, Cornelius VanWyen General Store:  In 1900, Mr. VanWyen was advised by his doctor to give up working on the Bay for his livelihood.  Consequently, in October of that year he erected a new building adjacent to his home and opened a General Store selling groceries, meats, fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of general merchandise items and, in early days, gasoline and hay.  In 1916, he built a 12 x 29 foot extension on the south side of the building and added a new front with a large plate glass window.  He and his wife, Mary, operated the store until he died in September 1942.  Eventually she closed the store and, in May 1953,  sold the building to  Mrs. Lillian Goff  who  opened  Lillian's Bridal Shop.  Although her  initial business was customizing gowns for the bride, her mother and the bridesmaids, in later years Mrs. Goff extended her offerings to include evening wear, evening shoes, accessories, tuxedo rentals, favors, and invitations.  She noted that  having five expert seamstresses enabled her to give the customers more personal attention and help in planning their events. In 1982, Lillian retired and sold the business to neigbors who ran it until 1992 when an auto hit and severely damaged the building. Following that, it was rebuilt as residential which it remains today.  Mrs. Goff passed away in April 1997.   

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Atlantic Street (now Avenue)

BOAT YARDS & SHOPS

Among the many early boat builders in West Sayville were William H. (Billy) Strong (1843-1908) on north side of Montauk Highway and and Joseph E. (Ed) Rudolph (1853-1918) on the east side of Atlantic Avenue.  Both constructed boats in their own backyards, as did many other local baymen.

 

 

 

 

Above: Satterly (?), "Doodle" Otto and Carl Stein; the latter two  collaborated on the Fleetwood Line, among the many boats that Otto built. Photo about 1928 at Boat Yard.

Left: Boat that Otto built for William Pickens; cost (without engine),$ 2,000.

 

 

Henry Lewis ("Doodle") Otto/ Lightner's #1 Boat Yard:   Henry Otto started building boats in Jelle Dykstra's boatyard in 1914. Among them was a small 18-inch model speedboat propelled by a motor taken from a talking machine (record player). During WWI, he joined the Naval Reserve  and was for some time  a CPO in the Pacific Fleet.  After his return to West Sayville in 1921 and his very brief trial run at Dykstra's (see below), he inaugurated his own boat building business (probably, somewhere on the present site of Green's Creek Marina).  Over the next few years, he built a variety of craft, perhaps the largest being a 43-foot cruiser and one of the more popular a Fleetwood, light, only nine feet in length, non-capsizable, built with an engine from Carl Stein and a speed of 28 mph. In 1928, Otto was joined by Walter L. Lightner who had previously been affiliated with Walter Lambdin (see below). In October 1929, Otto signed a five-year lease for the Charles A. Anderson shipyard at the foot of Terry Street in Sayville; the yard on land owned by John F. Martin, Jr., had just had a serious fire on August 27.  Otto intended to keep both yards in operation. However, in  September 1930, Lightner, in a partnership with George T. DeGraff, another Otto employee, bought  Otto's West Sayville business and extended its building to provide for an office and drafting room. Several months later, Lightner bought his partner out and became sole owner. In September 1936, Lightner moved the business to land "near the mouth of Green's Creek" (i.e., Clyde Street) owned by John Bates. Otto continued to build boats elsewhere as well as undertaking home and other land construction jobs and, later, also became a Federal Boat Inspector.  In January 1942, pursuing his duties as chief inspector of ship construction for the U.S. Army, he came across the Jerry Brown, an oyster boat constructed in Sayville in 1896, which was then hauling coal to Fort Eustis, VA. He died in May 1969 at age 74. 

Photos courtesy of Sandra J. Flanagan

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Atlantic Street (now Avenue)

 

Ferry to Water Island, 1908

 

Suffolk County News, June 25th, 1920

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 August 30th, 1929

 


Charles Stein & Son,:
  Charles Stein immigrated from Germany about 1890. Initially, in 1891, Billy Strong rebuilt a sloop, the Mildred A.,  for him  and, in 1894, Stein initiated  a non-scheduled ferry service between West Sayville and Cherry Grove and Water Island; if the wind died, the Captain was called upon to get out a "shoving pole" with which he walked the deck, moving the craft forward.  About 1905, Stein expanded his business operations by also becoming  local agent for Bridgeport Motors (CT) and selling/installing marine engines all around the Great South Bay. In early 1911, Captain Ed Rudolf built him what may have been a promotional racing motor boat, the Brunhilde, flat-bottomed; 24 feet long; 4 feet, 6 inches broad; 5 inches draft; designed to run on surface; 6 cylinder, 50 hp Bridgeport motor expected to travel 35 mph.  After having twice enlarged his home shop, in late 1911 he moved into his Marine Supply Shop to the bank of Green's Creek.  In early 1916,  son Carl took a job with Bridgeport Motors and soon worked up to being Foreman in its Assembly Department; in April 1917, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve as Machinists Mate, hoping to be assigned to the Naval Station here.  However, although he was assigned to the same unit, his job was aboard the despatch ship Ostrich, home port at Montauk.  In 1919,  after his release, Carl worked with his father and in February 1923 bought a half-interest in the machine shop... In 1918, Charles had upgraded the ferry service by acquiring another sloop, the Dare, which he converted to power; in 1921 the run was taken over by son Fred (see Sayville: Main Street to the Bay for more info).  Among their machine shop  clients, Carl, beginning in February 1928,  collaborated with Henry Otto in building a line of Fleetwood boats.  In  1935, the business was succeeded by Long Island Boat & Motor Sales, run by  brother Kenneth Stein on Main Street, West Sayville (see West Sayville: Main Street & North). It still operates today as Stein Marine on Brown's River, Sayville.

Postcard from collection of Sayville Library, postmarked August 1908

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Canal Street (Private Road)

 

Dykstra's Boat Yard, about 1906

 

 

Dykstra's Boat Yard, about 1908

 

Jelle Dykstra's Boat Yard, about 1910

 

 

"Spike" Lambdin, "Durlow", Sam Jorgensen
Lambdin Boat Yard, 1935-1936

 

Lambdin's Boat Yard, late 1940s

 

 

Dykstra/Lambdin Boat Yard, Canal Street at Green's Creek:   The Tjeerd H. Dykstra family emigrated from Holland to New York  in 1887.  Initially, father and - as soon as they finished school - all six sons turned to the Bay for a living.  However, in 1889 Ira apprenticed as a "boat builder" at George Myers' yard on Brown's Creek in Bayport.  He then set up business in rear of Edward Rudolph's house on Atlantic (then) Street. In March 1904 he moved down to Clyde Street (now site of Greene's Creek County Park) where he was joined by brothers Arie and later Jelle; intermittently, both had been away for the preceding years, working at Mariner's Harbor, Staten Island and Jacob's Shipyard in City Island. In 1905, Arie built the yard's first sailboat  and a third railway was also added to the facilities.  In August 1906 Arie had a severe accident followed the next February by an operation, both of which resulted in ongoing health problems. About that time Ira left and in September 1907, Jelle bought Arie out.  In September 1908, Arie opened his new "Sealshipt" (see following, Waterfront and Shellfishing) repair business as an agent of the  National Oyster Carrier Company; in January 1909, he left to live in the west and eventually went into partnership, running a garage and hardware store  in Sioux City, IA. Unfortunately, Jelle contracted tuberculosis and died  December 30, 1919.  In  August 1921, Henry L. Otto and William Miller leased the yard with a one month option which they abandoned after the month. In October,  Mrs. Jacoba Dykstra again leased the yard to partners Lewis A. Baker and William H. Harliss of Patchogue who dissolved their union in February 1922 but agreed to finish the work on hand.  In March, Walter C. Lightner and William C. Lambdin, both recently arrived from Baltimore, MD, assumed the lease and, in July, bought the yard.  Mr. Lambdin then bought Mr.Lightner's interest and put his name on the business; however, Lightner continued as an associate until 1928 when he left to join Henry  L. Otto who had now established his own yard nearby.  In failing health, William Lambdin sold the yard to Sam Jorgensen in 1945 and died in October 1951.

Images:  Top left and right collection of Long Island Maritime Museum;
Middle row: left, courtesy of William Leigh-Manuel; right and bottom: Anonymous

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Canal Street (Private Road)

 

Sam Jorgensen's Boat Yard, March 1952

 

 

Sam Jorgensen in his Shop

 

Sam Jorgensen constructing a Jorgensen Skiff

 

 

On railway at Sam Jogensen's Yard, 1950s
(Clyde Street roofs in background)

 

Pound fishing boat for Schaper's built bt S.J.,
(VanVranken home in background)

 

Another boat built by Sam Jorgensen

 

 

Sam Jorgensen's Boat Yard ( ex-Dykstra/Lambdin's), Canal Street at Green's Creek: Salmon Jorgensen emigrated from Norway to New York in the early 1920s.  Upon his naturalization in Patchogue  in 1939, he changed his first name to Sam.  In the late 1930s he started building boats in Lambdin's boat yard and then moved to become foreman of another yard that, among other craft, built three fireboats.  About April 1945, he returned to West Sayville and bought the yard from Lambdin who was in failing health. He then demolished and replaced some of the buildings. The yard was now separated from Lightner's #2 Yard by  Chris Jensen's, later Alfred Olsen's,  marine machine shop. It was here that he built many types of craft, including the noted 27 foot Jorgensen Skiffs; others included clam boats and garveys (boats with uniques forward oak sheathing, able to cut ice).   His activities extended over five railways, one to inside the northern building, a large and small one into the main building, and another two small ones outside on the south.  In declining health, about 1975 Jorgensen leased his yard out and retired to North Carolina where he died at the age of 97 in 1998.  However, the specialty of the lessee was not boatbuilding but applying fiber glass coverings to them (as well as selling anything connected therewith).  On March 25, 1978, the yard, its buildings, boats and engines burned to the ground.  Arson was suspected.

All photos from Anonymous source except mid-left  from collection of
Long Island Maritime Museum

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Clyde Street (Private Road)

 

 

Suffolk County News, June 25, 1920

 

 

 

Machine Shop Buildings, 1993

 

 Hiram Seebree's Machine Shop, Clyde Street:    Around 1910, Sebree was engineer on Fred Ockers' steamer Wolverine; soon after, he opened his marine machine shop.  In December 1919, he brought in partner Anton Krsnak, electrified the premises, and substantially expanded his equipment, adding a lathe and a milling attachment.  However, the partnership was dissolved in July 1921 when Krsnak left to open his own auto repair shop at Montauk Highway and Broadway Avenue in Sayville.  In April 1926, Hiram Sebree, being in poor health, sold his business and machine shop on Green's Creek to Chris Jensen, a young machinist from Greenport who had worked in the Fairbanks-Morse engine factory and was considered a good machinist. In  January 1928, Chris replaced the shop with a new, larger one -  about 20 by 40 feet - facing the Creek; in September of the following year, he extended the building ,adding office space.  (At the end of 1938, his father was manager of the Bluepoints operation in Greenport.) About 1958, he sold the business to Alfred Olsen and retired to Florida where he died May 19, 1972  at the age of 69.  Alfred Olsen closed down around 1980.  From 1986 to 1988,  Michael Stump and Mark Schnepf  occupied the premises, building speedboats under the name Active Marine. The buildings were demolished by the County when it developed Green's Creek County Park.

Photo courtesy of  Loretta Stump

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Clyde Street (Private Road)

 

Lightner's  Boat Yard # 2

 

 

"George Vanderborgh" at Lightner's Yard

 

Lightner's  (Merolla's) Yard, 1958

 

 

Lightner's  (Merolla's) Yard, 1958

 

Lightner's Boat Yard #2, Clyde Street facing Bluepoints Company:   Walter L. Lightner had bought the business from Henry L. Otto in 1930 and become well-known for his custom-built boats.  In December 1932, the Suffolk County News commented that the "depression was missing the Lightner yard".  In 1933, he collaborated with Fred Stein on development and building of the "Cherry Grove Sneak Box", a small sailboat for junior members of the Cherry Grove Yacht Club; at least four were built over the winter and raced the following summer. In September 1936, Lightner moved his work shop from its (Henry Otto's original) location to property owned by John Bates "near the mouth of Green's Creek" where he continued his expansion. Lightner died in April 1951 at age 65. In January 1953,  Matthew Merolla of Bayport, had acquired the yard.  Originally, he had taught shipbuilding in a New York vocational school and then had worked in a Babylon boat yard; he had been five years at Lightner's when he purchased the facility, retained the Lightner name,  and ran it independently for ten years before taking in Mel Bishop as a partner. In 1967, Merolla retired to Florida and on February 12, 1970, the yard was destroyed by fire.

Photos: Top courtesy of West Sayville Boat Masin; bottom courtesy of Marty Merolla

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Clyde Street (Private Road)

 

Remnants of  Boat Yard or Machine Shop,
1993

 

 

Townsend Seafood, replacement for Lightner's, Boatyard, established 1992, bankrupt later

 

Clyde Street from Green's Creek County Park, June 2013

 

 

Clyde Street Today:   By 1990, the 3.3 land acres on the west side of Green's Creek north of the Bluepoints property from Clyde to Canal Streets was a jumble of  old buildings, buried concrete and marine railway tracks, also offering an asbestor-removal problem, all interspersed by a stubborn crop of  beach grass. In 1991, NYCONN Associates L.P. presented the Town of Islip a master plan for 38 acres along the west side of Green's Creek which included this along with additional development of retail space, a marina, and the construction of condominiums. Despite strong criticism by local residents, the Town approved it in July 1992.  However, the deal eventually fell through, the developer went bankrupt,  the County acquired the land in 2000 and  cleaned it up. Today, it is Green's Creek County Park on the Creek side with boat storage and  the four original houses on the other.

Photos: top, courtesy of Loretta Stump; bottom, Webb N. Morrison

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