Roman Roth with distilling equipment at Wolffer. ALEXANDRA TALTY
Once used as a private hunting ground by former U.S. Congressman Stuyvesant Wainwright before being sold to developers for less than $300 an acre, Shinnecock Shores—or Pine Neck Point, as it’s referred to on nautical maps—in East Quogue is now home to a thriving community of roughly 270 homes.
Prior to leaving the community last year, Richard Andre, now a resident of North Carolina, was an active member of the Shinnecock Shores Association, as well as the neighborhood’s unofficial historian, having lived there at least part time since his family purchased a quarter-acre lot in the development in 1959. Based on personal experience, as well as research, Mr. Andre knows the neighborhood’s lore inside and out.
The private neighborhood was the brainchild of Mineola-based developers Abraham Peckman and Phillip DeNicola, who purchased the 95.6-acre property for $27,000 from owners Joseph and Elyse Martin in 1952, a rate of less than $283 per acre and $100 per lot, Mr. Andre said. “You couldn’t get your driveway paved for $27,000 today,” he added.
The Martins purchased the land from Mr. Wainwright—whose family owned the property for many years and lived in Wainscott—in 1950, shortly before he ran successfully ran for Congress on the Republican ticket and went on to serve four terms in Washington, D.C. The Martins paid $12,000 for pristine bayfront land, only to more than double their investment two years later, Mr. Andre said.
Almost immediately after purchasing the property from the Martins, Mr. Peckman and Mr. DeNicola, under the company names Marion Construction Inc. and Barracuda Shores Inc., began dredging the five canals that are now the linchpins of the community.
In 1953, the developers began selling off properties one by one; many were vacant, while others were sold with houses already built. Mr. Peckman and Mr. DeNicola even advertised the ready-made homes with a sample home on the corner of Josiah Foster’s Path and Montauk Highway, which remains one of the primary access points to the development today, though the sample home is no longer there.
Vacant properties sold for as little as $3,600, according to the Shinnecock Shores Association’s website, while homes could be purchased for as little as $7,990, according to records from former homeowners association historian Natalie Redleaf, who founded the association with her husband, Gil, in 1956.
Originally, the community was served by a single well on the north side of the neighborhood on a plot of land that is now a community gathering space known as the Waterworks.
In 1967, a group of 30 community members, led by Mr. Redleaf, purchased the Community Water Corporation to provide adequate drinking water for the neighborhood when the well became inundated with salt water. Eight years later, that corporation was absorbed by the Suffolk County Water Authority, which services the community today.
Over time, the community has filled out, with homes on nearly all the lots, most of which are still used as seasonal cottages, while some are occupied year-round.
“I think the biggest change came in the period of the late ’80s and ’90s and beyond,” Mr. Andre said. “That’s when you started to find people who didn’t feel it necessarily had to be a summer-only seasonal community—you could live there year-round, as long as you had a house that could withstand the winter winds coming off the bay.”
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