The history of Wheatley
Heights/Dix Hills is inseparable from that of Deer Park, Wyandanch, and Half Hollow Hills. Before 1974, Wheatley Heights was
not even on the Long Island map. In the 1800's our area was part of the district called West Deer Park.
Wyandanch was a powerful Montauk chieftain who wielded great influence in the 1600's among many "Paumonok" tribes,
and white settlers alike. In the early 1700's the Wheatley Heights./Dix Hills area was home to the Secatougue Indian tribe.
Some Huntington farmers moved southward, establishing farms in "Halfway Hollow Hills", where acres of huckleberries,
blueberries, and wild strawberries grew.
Long Island Rail Road service was extended to the current Wyandanch and
Deer Park Stations in the early 1840's. In the 1860's there was a 1200-acre apple orchard in this immediate vicinity. Records
show the biggest "town" of the area in 1882 was Deer Park, with a population of 100. Prized water springs of the
(Wheatley Heights) area led to the founding of the Colonial Mineral Springs Co. (off of today's Colonial Springs Rd.) From
1860-1900, a more successful business, the Terra Cotta Brick Co. thrived due to the abundant local reserves of sand and red
clay. Most of these bricks were used for construction of buildings in New York City.
In the 1830's, after he was
President, John Quincy Adams built a summer home just west of Deer Park Ave. The largest, most impressive local residence
of the 18th and 19th centuries was the mansion built and owned by Jacob Conklin, who'd been a crew member of the famed pirate
ship commandeered by Captain Kidd! Generations later, descendants sold this mansion to the son of President U.S Grant. It
burned to the ground in 1918.
Bagatelle Rd. was named for the well-known Bagatelle Nursery, owned by Dr. Herman
Baruch in the early 20th century. Baruch was the brother of F.D.R's advisor, Bernard Baruch. Dr Baruch bought the "Castle"
from the grandson of shipping and railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, and later sold it to an order of Catholic nuns. (Current
site of Madonna Heights)
At the turn of the 20th century, our area was known as a hunter's paradise (deer, rabbit,
woodchuck, quail). Deer Park also became well-known for its beautiful dahlias: A Mexican flower that was competitively cultivated
by many local nurseries in the early to mid 20th century. The Dahlia Festival was an annual Deer Park event.
Community Photo Gallery:
Family Day Picnic 2009