Memory Lane

MEMORY LANE

CONNETQUOT, NEW YORK

Byron Lake in Oakdale

Byron Lake in Oakdale is located on property once belonging to Christopher Rhinelander Robert’s Pepperidge Hall estate. C.R. Robert, born into a wealthy family, built a lavish medieval styled mansion and estate fit for a man who claimed to be descended from William the Conqueror (1). Several articles reported that marital difficulties between Mr. Robert and his wife lead to a decision to swap the Oakdale property in 1896 for Manhattan property owned by William K. Aston (2). Thereafter Mr. Aston subdivided the property and began selling off parcels to individuals. The Pepperidge Hall mansion continued to stand for decades, however after much neglect it was finally demolished in 1941 (3).

The name Pepperidge comes from the name of the Pepperidge tree. Why the lake was named Byron, however, is a mystery. It might have been the original name, as the lake does appear on a 1909 map of the area with that name (4). Later in the century it became known as “Second Pond,” and for decades it along with its surrounding area remained undeveloped, and became a popular recreational spot for residents and organizations (5). The American Red Cross even used it for swim lessons, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups engaged in camping and hiking activities in the surrounding woods. In the 1950s, the lake was described as having a shallow and a deep end, and there was a sand bar that divided the two ends. The deep end is believed to have been created when sand was dug from that part of it for the building of the Robert estate (6). “Only the bravest dared to walk the underwater path" because of the threat of running into snapping turtles that apparently lurked there (7). In 1962, the Town of Islip purchased the property for the purpose of building Byron Lake Park (8). The name Byron Lake was now again being used, with “Second Pond” becoming local history. Listen to local resident Richard Wolfe recount memories of swimming in the lake when it was known as “Second Pond," and learn as we did from Mr. Wolfe about how that activity had its risks.

  1. The Old Oakdale History.Volume II (1993). Oakdale, N.Y.: William K. Vanderbilt Historical Society of Dowling College.
  2. The Evening Post Record of Real Estate Sales in Greater New York, Volume 3. (1901.) p. 329. Suffolk County News Review of the Year in Pictures. (1942, Jan 2).
  3. Suffolk County News.NYS Historic Newspapers database. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1OguioL
  4. Map of South Side; Property of W.K. Aston, Oakdale, Suffolk County, N.Y. 1909.Town of Islip Planning Board.
  5. The first mention of the lake being called “Second Pond” appears in a July 22, 1927 Suffolk County News Article about Christopher Wallace drowning in the lake. The name Second Pond is continually used in the newspapers until the Town of Islip purchases it in 1962.
  6. Briggs, J. (1993Fall). Second Pond. Long Island Forum, 28-30.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Two sold land for Islip park; 'donated' 2Gs. (1967, Oct 06). Newsday (1940-1987) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/915256021?accountid=35174

Richard Wolfe Interview