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Freeport History Encyclopedia: I

Freeport History Encyclopedia includes authoritative information about Freeport's past. This guide is perfect for anyone wanting to know more about our village.

Imperial Hotel

Imperial Hotel (originally called the Grove Park Hotel, it was later known as South Shore Hotel and South Shore Apartments) was built in 1899 by Owen Humphrey.  It opened as the Grove Park Hotel in 1900 with 80 rooms and 20 private baths (plus two general baths on each floor) and could accommodate 150 guests.  Located amidst a grove of tall oaks on Rose Street, it featured large piazzas, a dining room, and suites with bathrooms. To take advantage of summer breezes, the hallways were wide with high ceilings and ran straight through the building. The hotel also featured long distance telephone service.  It was managed by O. W. Humphrey and Harry E. Van Riper.

The hotel was sold under foreclosure in 1908.  In October 1908, the Freeport Fire Department held its first daylight drill at the Imperial Hotel. The following year D. Sulsona of Far Rockaway rented the hotel to house the American Collegiate Institute, a preparatory college that specialized in English/Spanish and business courses. Tuition was $360 for a preparatory course and $450 for a collegiate course.  American students were offered a 20 percent discount.  In August 1909, neighbors of the hotel wrote a letter to the Freeport village board complaining about noise, litter, and the playing of baseball on the Sabbath. The following December, the school relocated to the city.  The building remained empty until 1914, when repairs to the hotel were reported in the newspaper.

In 1916,  Max S. Grifenhagen purchased the hotel for $60,000 and proposed a remodel that included changing the exterior to a "Colonial effect," installing a grill room trimmed with birch, and adding elevator service.  He also planned to replace the sheds in the rear of the hotel with a garage which measured 50 x 100 feet. The name change to the "South Shore Hotel" may have began under Grifenhagen's ownership.

During World War I, Grifenhagen, who had three sons who enlisted in the armed forces, began sponsoring a "Military Night" at the South Shore Hotel.  Soldiers from Camp Mills and the Aviation Corps in Mineola were invited to the hotel for dances and music. Entertainment was provided by Harry Puck, Albert Von Tilzer, Fred Stone, Will Philbrick, Charles Middleton, Leo Carillo, and Edward Abeles. In 1918, the hotel was managed by George J. Boyle and Mrs. E. Minor.

The hotel later became the South Shore Apartments. The building still exists and is located at 98 Rose Street. 

Click here for images related to the Imperial Hotel.

See Also:

Grifenhagen, Max S.



"Along the Merrick Road." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 14, 1903, 49. Accessed April 24, 2017.

Bermudez, Miguel and Donald Giordano. An Illustrated History of the Freeport Fire Department, 1893-2008. Freeport, NY, Freeport Fire Department, 2008.

"Freeport." South Side Messenger. March 25, 1914, 1.  Accessed April 24, 2017.

"Freeport News." Nassau County Review. May 15, 1908, 1. Accessed April 24, 2017.

"Freeport News." Nassau County Review. August 6, 1909, 1. Accessed April 24, 2017.

"Freeport News." Nassau County Review. December 10, 1909, 1.  Accessed April 24, 2017.

"Freeport's New Hotel." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. December 24, 1899, 11. Accessed September 26, 2018.

"Imperial Hotel to Re-Open." Nassau County Review. September 8, 1916, 8. Accessed April 24, 2017.

Krieg, Cynthia J. and Regina G. Feeney. Freeport. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

"Military Night at South Shore Hotel." Nassau County Review. May 31, 1918, 1. Accessed May 8, 2017.

"The New Grove Point Hotel." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.  May 2, 1900, 13.

"Open House for Military Men. The Nassau Post. May 24, 1918, 1. Accessed May 9, 2017.

South Side Messenger. September 24, 1909, 1. Accessed April 24, 2017.

Researched by Cynthia J. Krieg and Regina G. Feeney, April 14, 2017.

Updated by Regina G. Feeney, September 24, 1899.

Independent Order of Good Templars

Independent Order of Good Templars, a temperance organization, formed a lodge in Freeport on May 7, 1880.  Sincerity Lodge No. 236 was the first Templars lodge in Queens County. Charter members included Charles F. Boynton, George W. Bergen, D. S. Stevens, Charles B.  Raynor, Nelson H. Smith, Mrs. Nelson Smith, Miss Hattie R. Smith, Mrs. Elizabeth Smith, Mrs. Rebecca Mott, Miss Ella Boynton, Miss Louise J. Carpenter, Mrs. Henry Mead, Mrs. Margaret Carman, William Horsfield, Mrs,  William Horsfield, George Wallace, Howard Plum, Mrs. Howard Plum, Mrs. George W. Bergen, Samuel R. Smith and William Sammonds.  Unlike many organizations of its time, the I.O.G.T. offered equal membership to women.  In 1891, Laura Brotheridge was identified as the superintendent of the Freeport lodge.

By 1896, the Freeport Templars had initiated 382 members and held 704 meetings.  That same year, the Raines Law (a New York State regulation that attempted to curb the sale and consumption of alcohol through taxation) was a topic of discussion for the Templars.

In 1894, Reverend Backus, an original founder of the Good Templars' organization in 1850s, spoke to the Freeport Templars.  At the time, it was estimated that the Sincerity Lodge was one of 800 lodges in New York State.

The organization owned a 50 x 200-foot building plot on the corner of Pine Street and Church Street. Between 1885 and 1887, the sum of $250 was raised by private subscription to purchase this property.  In 1897, the Sincerity Lodge passed a resolution to offer this property the Village of Freeport for $50 provided that, if it built its village hall there, there will a room available for the Templars to use for meetings.  This plan did not come to fruition.

During the Templars sixteenth anniversary celebration in 1896, Hiram Smith presented the history of the lodge.

In 1901, the Freeport Templars raised money by asking the public to send penny donations based on the donor's age.

See Also:

Bergen, George W.

Smith, Hiram

Smith, Nelson



"Miss Weyant's Gold Badge." Brooklyn Daily Eagle. March 27, 1896, 5. Accessed July 30, 2016.

Queens County Review. March 19, 1897, 3. Accessed July 30, 2016.

"The Templars Celebrate." Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 13, 1896, 5. Accessed August 1, 2016.

"To Sell to the Village," Brooklyn Daily Eagle. December 23, 1897, 5. Accessed July 30, 2016.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 27, 2016.

Industrial Park

Industrial Park began as a 44-acre peninsula located in southeast Freeport.  In 2017, the Freeport Department of Public Works says this area now encompasses nearly 125 acres.  Part of this area was once known as Turks Island, and later Shell Island and Ormond Park.  The  village incinerator, Freeport Stadium, and the Freeport Pistol and Rifle Range were all located in this section.  It is also believed that, in the 1930s, the Freeport Airfield (not to be confused with the Freeport Airport) was located in this area of Freeport.  However, no corroborating evidence has been located to confirm the airfield's existence.

In 1961, Mayor Robert Sweeney appointed a Business and Industrial Development Committee for the purpose of improving Freeport's business climate, creating job opportunities, and investigating means of obtaining additional sources of revenue to ease the tax burden upon property owners.  This led to the formation of the non-profit Freeport Local Development Corporation.  Its non-salaried officers included: Roy Cacciatore, Bernard Ames, Village Trustee George Fairberg (vice president), Arthur R. Muller (later replaced by Thomas Lovelidge) (treasurer); and John H. O'Neil (secretary). Directors included: Mayor Robert Sweeney, Village Trustee Henry Altengarten, Frank Musso and Mark J. Hroncich.  Others included: Schulman and Soloway (architects), Baldwin and Cornelius (engineers), Freedman, Weisbein and Fulong (counsel) and Joseph H. Fisher and Company (accountants).  Together with Supervisor Ralph Caso and the Hempstead Town Local Development Corporation headed by George Trias of North Merrick, ten acres of Village land were combined with 34 Town of Hempstead-owned acres to create Industrial Park.

Ground was broken for the project in September 1964. Freeport was the first municipality in New York State to create such a district.  The Industrial Park includes 54 foot wide roadways which are comparable to the width of Merrick Road.  This allows for access and egress from the park without having to travel through residential neighborhoods. Tree planting and landscaping occurred under the supervision of Atlantic Nursery.  The site was designated "Industrial Zone B" so that no heavy pollution causing industry was allowed to operate in this area. The Roosevelt Bus Company once supplied transportation to the Industrial Park from the Freeport train station.  In 1974, 3,000 people were employed in the Industrial Park.

In 1969,  Governor Nelson Rockefeller visited Freeport's Industrial Park.  In 1971,   Power Plant No. 2 was opened on Buffalo Avenue in the Industrial Park.

Business located in Industrial Park in 1975 included: Castlereagh Press, Inc., Columbia Cement, Inc., Dakota International Corp., Doninger Metal Products Corp., Fine Arts Industries, E. V. Game, Inc. Genco-Ware, Inc., Lea-Ronal, Inc., Penthouse Manufacturing Co., Inc., Romance Fabrics Inc., Sentry Electric Corp., Shredmaster Corp, Vidaire Electronics Corp, AHRC, Birnbach Radio Co., Futuronics Corp., Granian Drug Co., Knickerbocker Partition Corp., Raymond Korber., Inc. Milo Components, Inc. Prestige Cabinet Corp. of America, Progressus Corp., Redi-Records, Inc., Shore Plastics, Inc., Weksler Instruments, Corp., Elroy Enterprises, Inc., and TruHealth, Inc.

In 1958, the Posner family, owners of Freeport Glazing Works located at 126 East Merrick Road, built buildings for manufacturing south of Shea Court and on the west side of of Henry Street.  Though The Leader identified this section as an "industrial park" it should not be confused with the industrial area located below Mill Road.

Click here for images related to Industrial Park.

See Also:

Hames, James

Turks Island



"Attracting New Industry." Village News. March 1966, 2. Accessed June 5, 2017.

"Gov. Rockeller Visits Freeport Industrial Park." The Leader. September 25, 1969. ["Industrial Park" vertical file].

"Groundbreaking for Industrial Park." Village News. September, 1964, 4. Accessed June 5, 2017.

"Industrial Park Here Planned By Posners." The Leader. November 20, 1958, 5. Accessed June 5, 2017.

"Industrial Park: Our Golden Marsh." The Leader. August 24, 1972. 1. ["Industrial Park" vertical file].

"Open House at New Power Plant." Village News. February 1971, 1. Accessed June 5, 2017.

"Our Industrial Park." Village News. October 1964, 3. Accessed June 5, 2017.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, June 9, 2017.

Influenza Pandemic, 1918-1919

Influenza Pandemic, 1918-1919 (also known as the Spanish Flu or the grippe) killed between 20 and 40 million people worldwide.  This flu pandemic, erroneously named for a European country, is believed to have originated in Kansas where the first case was reported on March 1918 at Camp Funston.  In the Town of Hempstead, the pandemic began in Camp Mills in Garden City in September 1918.  By October, it reported 1,100 cases, with 130 new cases per day being added to the total.  In October 1918, 4,371 cases were reported at Camp Upton in Yaphank with twenty deaths occurring on a single day.  Between October 1st and 15th, 472 cases of influenza were reported in the Town of Hempstead.  To stop the spread of the disease, Freeport Schools closed for a couple of weeks in October 1918.  Churches and movie theaters were also closed.  Orders were issued for saloons and soda fountain establishments to sterilize all drinking glasses.  Requests were made that fraternal lodges and other public gatherings of a dozen or more people to refrain from meeting. Merchants were asked to limit the number of people allowed in their stores at one time.

Dr. William H. Runcie, Freeport's health officer, reported a jump of 68 cases to 125 cases of influenza in Freeport in one week in October (Freeport's population in 1918 was about 8,000).

At least four Freeport soldiers and a nurse died of influenza: William F. Downs, Mabel Pauline Guest, James C. Rich, Arthur J. Smith, and James E. Vetal.  Four additional Freeport soldiers died of pneumonia, a complication related to influenza: Emile C. Bernard, Theodore de Kruijff, Charles Jordano, and John J. Thurston.

Freeport doctor, Harold M. French, who attended influenza patients, succumbed to the disease on October 18, 1918.  His wife, Susie, died five days later. Their four year-old-son recovered from the illness.  The French family lived at 111 West Merrick Road.

See Also:

Pandemics / Epidemics



Barry, John M. The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. New York: Viking, 2005.

"Camp Mills Quarantined." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October 10, 1918. Accessed May 21, 2018.

"Dr. French and Wife Both Victims of Epidemic." Nassau County Review. October 25, 1918, 1. Accessed May 21, 2018.

"Nurse's Devotion Causes Her Death." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October 31, 1918, 10. Accessed May 22, 2018.

"Schools Closed for Epidemic." Nassau County Review. October 18, 1918, 1. Accessed May 21, 2018.

"Spanish Influenza Reaches High Point." Nassau County Review. October 25, 1918, 1. Accessed May 21, 2018.

"Wear Masks at Camp Upton." The New York Times. October 6, 1918, 8.

Woodward, Angela. "Flu Pandemic." Environmental Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 565-567.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, May 29, 2018.

Infrastructure in Freeport

Irons, John J.

John J. Irons was a resident of Bennington Park.  He was very involved with Bethel A.M.E. Church, serving as its Sunday school superintendent.  In 1913, Irons was the president of the Colored Republican Club of Freeport.

See Also:

Bennington Park

Colored Republican Club of Freeport



"Card of Thanks." Nassau County Review. December 5, 1913, 1. Accessed September 11, 2018.

"News of the Churches." Nassau County Review. December 5, 1913, 1. Accessed September 11, 2018.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, September 11, 2018.

Irving Avenue

Irving Avenue was named for Irving Meister. His father was Albert Meister, the developer of Meister Beach.

See Also:

Meister Beach

Researched by Cynthia J. Krieg, May 23, 2016.

Irving's Men's Shop

Irving's Men's Shop was located at 68 South Main Street.  This clothing store also provided uniforms for policemen, firemen, and postal workers.

Click here for images of Irving's Men's Shop.



Voyageur, 1928 (Freeport High School Yearbook).

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 27, 2016.



Irish Americans and Irish Culture in Freeport