Cherry Grove History
Photo’s supplied from Cherry Grove Archives.
Cherry Grove has been settled for almost 150 years. Cherry Grove dates its modern history to the 1868 purchase by Archer and Elizabeth Perkinson. They bought the land between Lone Hill (now Fire Island Pines) and the Cherry Grove Hotel from the ocean to the bay for 25 cents per acre and named the area for the black-cherry trees in the area. The Perkinson’s opened a hotel in 1880. According to local legend Oscar Wilde stayed at the Perkinson Hotel.
The first boardwalks were built in 1929. In 1930 Duffy’s Hotel replaced the original hotel and was the only place with electricity and a phone. “Many people had tried their hands at running the hotel after the Perkinson Family gave it up. The Fred Steins (parents of the present owner of our ferries), the Joseph Levys (parents of Ira Levy, Sayville attorney), the Alfred Sykes family, who later operated the Kensington Hotel in Sayville, which was on the site of the old Bohack store, and, just before the hurricane, by the Duffy’s, who had also taken over the Kensington in Sayville. After the hurricane, Mr. Duffy sold the hotel to Arnold Stevens.
The Great Hurricane of 1938 destroyed much of Cherry Grove and discouraged main landers from coming. In their stead a new generation started coming from Manhattan including Greta Garbo, Xavier Cugat, Paulette Goddard, Pola Negri, Arlene Francis, and Earl Blackwell (publisher of the International Celebrity Register).
After the hurricane…
Included in that new generation were the growing gay population.
More and more men were finding Cherry Grove. People from the theater, film, and design were drawn to this haven. From the many from the arts came the theater culture that remains today.
Pat’s Ocean View Restaurant. Below owner Patricia Stephani.
Buildings are brought over by boat.
The theater became the center of Cherry Grove culture. Notice Pines Yacht club owner and former Ziegfeld girl Peggy Fears in the cast.
The 1950’s brought the theme parties as many had to entertain in homes to feel freedom.
Duffy’s burned on September 27, 1956. In 1957 construction begins on the Cherry Grove hotel in November and completed in July.
With it’s inspiration coming from Florida architecture, and designed by Carl Stoyle the 64 room hotel begins to take shape at a cost of $250,000. Now owned by a corporation and managed by Arnold Stevens it offers guests the use of its bar/restaurant, dance hall, free docking facilities, music and writing rooms, coffee shop, and a swimming pool which is built the following year at a cost of $20,000.
1959. Postcard greetings from Cherry Grove…
The hotel pool is the centerpiece of the resort.
Beginning his career at the Sea Shack bartender Johnny Pool moves onto the Ice Palace as it is now named with a Fashion show at the pool.
And the parties continued…
To be continued….