Aug 12 2017

When Walter T. Shirley Was Selling the “Former Vanderbilt Estate” in Ronkonkoma Updated

While researching the Ronkonkoma section of the Motor Parkway for my September 12th presentation, I came across this 1943 real estate ad selling quarter acres from the "former Vanderbilt Estate". Here is the story behind Long Island Acres owned by Walter T. Shirley.


Howard Kroplick

The largest parcel of land purchased by the Motor Parkway for our favorite road was 891.21 acres in Ronkonkoma from Charles Wright. As seen in this 1907 survey, the property would become the eastern terminus of the Motor Parkway. It included all the property east of Terry's Road and north of the LIRR track.

As early as March 1907, the location for the Petit Trianon was planned. Note: The reserved right-of-way located south of the Inn.

In late 1937, sections of this property south of the Motor Parkway were offered for sale and caught the eye of real estate developer Walter T. Shirley. After World War II, Shirley would become  famous for developing over 4,000 homes in the hamlet named for himself.

Walter Shirley purchased his first 250 acres from the Motor Parkway in 1937.

November 14, 1937 New York Times

Almost five years later, Shirley purchased an additional 500 acres "of the parkway at Terry Road and Johnson Avenue...including a private beach".

September 6, 1942 New York Times

This ad ran around 1943 promoting Walter T. Shirley's Long Island Acres where the purchasers could "Share Former Vanderbilt Estate". For the record, this property was not part of Willie K's estate.

$99 could buy a quarter acre "equal to 5 city lots". Note the size of the house.

The "entrance to fomer Vanderbilt Estate" was likely the entrance to the Petit Trianon Inn.

Purchasers of acreage had "beach rights", likely from the original right-of-way of the Wright property.

Update: A survey showing the lots in the Long Island Acres property.

Long Island Acres Today

Many of the Long Island Acres homes have been expanded or replaced. Here is one home that has survived.


Aug 13 2017 LMK 9:54 AM

Wow, how incredible are those prices….

Great fun reading that article….

Aug 13 2017 Tom Cotter 10:27 AM

As a Lake Ronkonkoma native, I find this fascinating.  Thanks for sharing.

Aug 13 2017 Ted 4:58 PM

Hi all
  Didn’t forget about you guys.Trying to keep up to date with what’s going on and had to comment on this post.There’s always something for you guys to know that you don’t know about when it comes to the VCR or Motor Parkway and this was one of them.You never know who’s going to find something and what it’s going to be,that’s the amazing thing,it still exists after so many years.Well,anyhow,all is well here,trying to keep cool,been hot and very humid,lots of indoor activities for that.Keep looking,keep it alive,let it be known.Doing a great job.Been enjoying the mystery weekends,but just don’t have the time to research them,I’m surprised I have the time for this.Actiivities where cancelled today because of heavy rain.That’s my update

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