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Roslyn's Brief History

Apr 25

Roslyn Was One Of The First Villages

Hempstead Harbor was established in 1643 by Robert Fordham and John Carmen who sailed from Connecticut across Long Island Sound. A further wave of Connecticut residents settled in the Hempstead Harbor area a year later and made the decision to stick around. Many things have changed since Fordham and Carmen's adventure so many years ago. Roslyn's history may be summarized as follows.

Roslyn's oldest structure is the Van-Nostrand Starkins house, built in 1680. In 1795, a blacksmith named Joseph Starkins bought it. There is currently a clapboard structure that houses the museum, which is about an inch and a half tall.

Hendrick Onderdonk constructed a dam and paper mill at Hempstead Harbor in 1773. Onderdonk's was Long Island's first paper mill. Before establishing the paper mill, Onderdonk operated the town's original gristmill, which was built in the 1750s. President George Washington made a stop in Hempstead Harbor on Long Island in 1790 during a five-day tour of the island. Washington was fed breakfast by Onderdonk when he was in town. While visiting Hempstead Harbor in his diary, Washington mentioned Onderdonk's gristmill and paper mill. Onderdonk died in the year 1809. Today, George Washington's former home, now known as the George Washington Manor Restaurant, is still standing. The old gristmill may be seen to the east of the restaurant. A copy of Onderdonk's ancient paper mill was built on Paper Mill Road in 1915 after it was dismantled. It served as the headquarters for the American Legion and the Red Cross.

As far back as 1838, the first post office was established at Hempstead Harbor. Hempstead Harbor became Roslyn on September 7, 1844. The neighborhood was changed to avoid postal confusion with other "Hempsteads" on Long Island with the same name.

  • When Roslyn was founded in 1852, it became the first city in New York to have its own fire department.
  • After much deliberation, it was finally decided to build the Roslyn Cemetery in 1861.
  • Roslyn's first school was constructed in 1863 on Old Northern Boulevard.
  • Long Island's first station, Roslyn, opened its doors to passengers in 1864.
  • The Roslyn Savings Bank, the first savings bank in Nassau County, was formed in 1876.
  • The New York Evening Post's longtime editor, William Cullen Bryant, died in Roslyn in 1878. His last resting place was the Roslyn Cemetery in Brooklyn.
  • Two years before his death, Bryant played a key role in the establishment of the "Reading Room," a meeting place for Roslyn residents in the evenings. As soon as the "Reading Room" was renamed, it became the Bryant Library we know today.
  • One of Roslyn's most recognizable landmarks is the Ellen E. Ward Memorial Clocktower, which was erected in 1895. The clocktower is at the intersection of Main Street and Old Northern Boulevard and is composed of random ashlar granite with limestone trim.
  • It was Roslyn, New York, which put in the first street lights in 1901.
  • In 1911, Roslyn became the first town in Nassau County to have a Boy Scout Troop.
  • In 1912, the ROSLYN Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) was founded. This was the first of its kind on Long Island, east of Flushing.
  • Roslyn High School was established in 1925 on Roslyn Road. The "Harbor Hill" mansion's owner, C.H. Mackay, gave land to the school. Having inherited a sizable silver fortune from his father, Mackay passed away in 1938.
  • The Villages of East Hills, Roslyn Estates, and Roslyn Harbor were incorporated in 1931.
  • The Village of Roslyn was established the next year, in 1932.
  • The Temple Sinai congregation was founded in 1947.'s founding A Jewish congregation in Roslyn, New York, was established in the town's early years.
  • This was the year that the Beth Sholom Temple was finished and dedicated.
  • For the first time, Roslyn Junior High School opened its doors.
  • A new era of education began when the Harbor Hill School first opened its doors in 1961.
  • It was a tragic event that claimed the life of Christopher Morley in 1957. Writing studio "The Knothole" in Roslyn made Morley famous. When the Christopher Morley Knothole Association stepped in to salvage Morley's writing studio in 1961, it changed his life. Morley Park was established in Nassau County in 1963. It was at Roslyn, New York where Morley was laid to rest.
  • For their 50th anniversary in 1982, the Roslyn communities celebrated. It opened in 1986, four years after the opening of the ROSLYN Community Center.
  • In 1994, the residents of Roslyn built and opened a brand-new Village Hall.
  • Cedarmere, Bryant's former home, was turned into a museum in 1995.
  • Janet Galante was elected mayor of Roslyn Village for the first time in 1995.
  • In 2004, the same year that the ROSLYN School District celebrated Roslyn High School's 100th anniversary, the Nassau County District Attorney initiated an investigation into stolen district funds.
  • In 2004, the East Hills Park was formally inaugurated. The park opens to the public in 2006.
  • A historic monument was established in Cedarmere in 2013. In 2009, four years after this memorial was installed, Cedarmere was closed to the public by Nassau County.
  • There are plenty of historical events that have taken place in Roslyn despite the town's small size (population fewer than 3,000).