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History of the Barrier Island Leases

History of Barrier Island Beaches
Under Authority of Town of Huntington 1663-1872

1663 – People were actually grazing livestock on the Barrier Island this early date.  Records of Agricultural Supervisor ordered residents to stop their swine from trampling the salt meadows and enforced forfeiture off seven shillings for each load of salt hay mowed.

April 1671 – Huntington also placed a fine of five pounds for everyone found on Marshes on the Island in September.  These Marshes were prized by early settlers up until the 1800’s.

April 4, 1785 – The first post-Revolutionary lease was made to Joshua Ketchum.  However, private homes were never allowed on the island even though the shelters for watchman guarding the valuable oyster beds were permitted.

1845 – Leased a piece of land to John L. Korthwright.

1866 – Records show another lease to Timothy S. Carll for 12 years at $50 per year for the privilege of planting oysters and erecting a house for person to live and protect said privilege.  Other de-facto shelters existed before 1845.
Town of Babylon Founded in 1872 with authority over Barrier Beaches

1872 – Babylon Town Board minutes indicated that no hay cutting or cattle grazing was allowed for 6 years.  The town hired grass cutters and auctions were held on Babylon’s docks.  They also did away with leases of lands under water since rights of lease of navigable waters is doubted.

1878 – A lease arrangement was made between Babylon and Islip on April 2nd to share each other’s waters in the Great South Bay for oyster planting purposes.  Within weeks of this agreement, the first lease to build a hut was granted to Erastus Tooker.  On November 7, 1878 Charles J. Duryea, President of Babylon Town Board as authorized to sign a 21 year on Oak Island Beach for 18 Babylon residents with express intention that lease holders could utilize lots for recreational and residential purposes.  This was known as the Oyster Planters and Businessman’s Association of Babylon.

1879 – On August 13th Babylon’s Trustees also authorized leases for members of Oyster Planters Association of Amityville for lots on Oak Island.  The public was allowed access to all islands except in July and August.  The only exception was men from the U.S. Lifesaving Station.
Oak Island

1879 – The first privately owned cottage on Babylon’s Bay Island was built by Henry Livingston and was called Little Rest.

1882 – 1883 – Second house was built by Benjamin Field.

1884 – Charles Searle built the 3rd house. 

Alanso Weeks, James Cooper, Jeramiah Robbins and Frederick Thorpe houses soon joined their three friends listed above.


Oak Island Beach Association
1894 – The largest lease granted was to the Oak Beach Association, when Reverend John Dietrich Long, Pastor of Presbyterian Church of Babylon obtained a 50 year lease from the Town of Babylon for land on the eastern end of Oak Beach for a religious retreat and cultural center.  The Reverend Long built a Community Center large enough to seat an audience of 1,000 people – it stood on a high table of land and had spacious verandas on three sides.

1895 –The grand opening was celebrated on July 4th.  There was scheduled to be a clam bake , patriotic concert and fireworks, however the day arrived with torrential rains.  That, and the mosquitos and other social problems soon soured Reverend Long’s dream of a religious camp and he abandoned the project after the first year.  While the Association proved a failure as a religious retreat it was a success as a residential colony and induced people to build more expensive homes.

1896 – The Oak Island Beach Association was granted its original lease by Babylon Town Board on March 7th, 1896.  The lease was for nine years – rent for $100 dollars per year plus $5 rent per year for each house with the understanding that a minimum of 20 houses would be constructed before the lease expired.  The lease also stated that rent would be paid on all property regardless of whether a house was built.  This is still in effect today.