Rhodes Trip: 50 Years of Strathmore at Stony Brook
By Karen Martin
From the January 2014 Historian Newsletter
Levitt Plans 1,300 Homes Mile South of Stony Brook
In April 1963 Levitt and Sons, Inc. announced plans to build 1300 single family homes in Stony Brook. “The community will be constructed on 650 rolling wooded acres one mile southeast of historic Stony Brook in town of Brookhaven.” This marked the Levitt company’s return to Long Island.
The firm built luxurious Strathmore communities on the north shore of Nassau County in the 1930s, but is best known for its post WWII development, Levittown, consisting of 17,447 homes. After Levittown the firm’s activities moved to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. Mr. Levitt’s decision to build in Suffolk County was based on research that Suffolk was the fastest growing county in New York and the second fastest growing big county in the country.
President William J. Levitt said “his firm’s Stony Brook houses are being designed and will be priced for middle-income families. They will be on large lots, he said, and definitely in keeping with the quality nature of Stony Brook”. The development was to be located near the new campus of the State University of New York at Stony Brook which opened on September 16, 1962 with 780 enrolled students. Mr. Levitt saw this “to be mutually advantageous for the new university and the newer community. Although only a few months old, the Stony Brook campus is expected to have an enrollment of 10,000 students by 1970. University personnel will obviously need homes. Conversely, many home buyers in our Stony Brook community will want to participate in the cultural opportunities offered by a nearby great university.”
Levitt Shows 7 Model Homes at Stony Brook
The weekend of Nov 16, 1963 marked the opening of sales for Strathmore at Stony Brook. Police estimated that 20,000 people came to view the models. Approximately 500 applications for homes were processed totaling around $11,000,000 according to Levitt. Levitt’s return to Long Island boasted “the greatest variety of large, luxurious houses it has ever built in a single community.”
The “exhibit area” of six model homes was located west of Nichols Rd. off Route 347. A seventh design was also offered. Purchase prices ranged from $18,990 to $26,990. All home prices included kitchen and laundry General Electric appliances, a fully landscaped lot and all closing and settlement costs. The lowest priced model was known as the Ardsley. The 1963 sales brochure boasts “We think there are more beautiful homes at Strathmore than you’ve ever seen in any one community, anywhere before. Solid American favorites, carefully planned and carefully finished down to the very last detail. Grounds are impressive; never less than 15,000 square feet, professionally and exquisitely landscaped…”
Over the following years other Levitt developments in the area included the communities of Strathmore Village (Centereach) and Strathmore East (Coram).
Thanks to several of our members, the society’s collections include a rare home owner’s guide, sales brochures from 1963 and 1966 for Strathmore at Stony Brook and the 1970 and 1971 brochures for Strathmore Village and Strathmore East.
Preserve the History of Strathmore
Did you buy or grow up in Strathmore? The society is looking for additional material to document the history of this community. If you have any brochures, home owners guides, or perhaps the original sales agreement, please let us know. We are also looking for original photographs of the houses and families which lived or live in them. Photographs of the exterior or interior especially those which may document changes to the home over time are also wanted. How about that photograph of the family posing in front of their new home, a birthday party, or family picnic? Do you have any home movies? Share with us any personal
memories of Strathmore at Stony Brook and life in the larger Three Village community.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.