of Lake Lucille
Our community has
all the joys and sorrow of our world. It has its celebrations, its
rituals, and repeated acts of observance. It is a very beautiful
place to live.
This history is by
no means complete, as all histories are never complete. There are
errors, no question, simply because people view and react about the
I felt that now is
the time to publish this little booklet so the community that we
live in has a greater understanding of what went on before and what
the joys of participating here can be.
1555 - Roger Coe mentioned
in Fax’s Book of Martyrs.
1710 - Homestead built where Robert’s eventually lived.
1717 - Concklin Fruit Farm established.
1734 - Samuel Coe came to Rockland County.
1742 - Coe’s Tavern on Route 45 & New Hempstead Road.
1779 - Battle of Stony Point
1780 - Major Andre and Josh Hett Smith stopped at Coe’s Tavern.
1788 - Largest quarry in Clarkstown operated by James Thorn.
1799 - Samuel Coe’s Cornor at So. Mountain Road and Zukor Road.
1813 - Van Houten and Coe built Street School
1813 Stone from quarry built Trinity Church.
1848 - William Roberts is in America.
1852 - Stagg’s Cornor – Blacksmith Shop.
1860 - Census for Clarkstown.
1865 - Population of Clarkstown was 4,023.
1866 - Eliza Gibbons married William Roberts.
1867 - Short Clove cut by William Roberts.
1872 & 1873 - Deeds from Coe to Roberts recorded.
1875 - New City has a railway station.
1883 - Settlement house movement in London.
1906 –Thomas M. Roberts married Ella Edith Blauvelt.
1912 - United Neighborhood Guild.
1912 - Adolph Zukor took residence.
1924 - Bear Mountain Bridge completed.
1927 - Lake Lucille Realty Company started.
1928 - Dam built.
1929 - Christies Airport established.
1930 - Dembnicki’s store
1930 Gibbs Barn now a restaurant & bar.
1931 - George Washington Bridge opened.
1936 - Lake Lucille Property Owners Assoc. formed.
1950 - LLPOA annual picnic started.
1955 - Tappan Zee Bridge completed
1956 - LLPOA took over the management of all lake property.
1957 - Dues were $5.00 per year.
1958 - Final section of the Palisades Interstate Parkway completed
1959 - LLPOA First Constitution & Bylaws.
1960’s - Beach created.
1962 - LLPOA bought the lake water system.
1967 - Lake had 90% oxygen rate.
1968 - Flag pole erected at field for Larry Rose.
1972 - Hurricane Agnes washed out dam road.
1975 - Ella Roberts passed away.
1980 - Lake sewers were put in.
1984 - Mabel Krasny, first woman president
1985 - LLPOA purchased Baby Lake property.
1999 - Hurricane Floyd was a disaster.
2001 - Lake finally dredged and new dam built.
2001 - New dam dedicated to Fred Siegriest.
2003 - Performance of “Seagull.”
2004 - Performance of “Three Sisters.”
Lake Lucille, Map 100, has a
history of its own. A piece of earth, a title here and there, the
living on the land, the buying and selling of property, the flow of
water constantly repeating itself, the fish that seem to dream, the
flight of birds, the animals that live at night, and those that
sleep until we become awake, have been here always, the houses that
were bought and sold, those that moved on, the dances of celebration
and ritual which we created, and the deaths of people who stayed
here, this is our heritage, the silent life of the past that haunts
and embraces our roads.
A History of Lake Lucille
Two streams converged at the
site that became Lake Lucille. One of the streams was the source of
the Hackensack River.
The official US Geological
Survey locates the headwaters of the Hackensack River as just east
of Little Tor Road, next to the stream. If you dig through the
weeds, you can find the little monument stone marker with a brass US
Geological plaque affixed to it.
Historically, the Lenni
Lenape Indians lived in our area. They were largely independent
communities, sharing a common ancestry, and spoke dialects of the
same Algonquian language. They were either Munsee or Minsi,
depending on the interpretation, which was translated as “people of
the stone country.” The name Munsee first appeared during the
historic period in the Pennsylvania Colonial Records of 1727. We
think they were here because Thomas and Richard Roberts found traces
of what they believe were two cooking sites alongside the creek that
flows into Lake Lucille.
There were American
Revolution activities around our area from 1775 to 1783. The Battle
of Stony Point, in 1779, affected the people who lived here. Kings
Ferry was a major crossing for the Continental Army on the Hudson
River; the American and British armies moved across our landscape.
The people who lived here were divided. Some supported the
Revolution, some were against it, and some wished it would end.
Samuel F. Coe came to
Rockland County in 1734, from England. It should be noted that the
Coe family name appeared in history in Fax’s Book of Martyrs,
September 1555, mentioning the trial and burning of Roger Coe during
the reign of Queen Mary.
The corner of
South Mountain Road and Zukor Road is now the home of Jan Connor.
We know it was built prior to 1844 because in 1799 it was known as
Samuels Coe’s Corner. The Coes were farmers and merchants during
the founding of our country. Samuel Coe in 1742 owned Coe’s Tavern
(there were so many Coes that the same first name appears over the
generations), located at the corner of New Hempstead Road and Route
45, opposite the church. Major Andre and Josh Hett Smith were said
to have stopped here on the way to meeting Benedict Arnold in 1780.
In 1788, the largest quarry
in Clarkstown was operated by James Thom, who purchased Richard
Coe’s quarry, which later became part of the Roberts Farm. In 1813,
stone from this quarry was used to build Trinity Church in New York
City and Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn.
Deeds from Coe to William Roberts show the sale, in 1872,
of 48 acres for $3,000; in 1873, 11.24 acres for $500; and in 1883,
11.24 acres for $400; a total of 81.72 acres. That included the
land on Map 100 that is now owned by the Lake Lucille Property
The Coe family
owned the three historic homes in our area during the 1700’s and
into the 1800’s: the Roberts Homestead, 370 South Mountain Road, and
4 Lucille Blvd. The earliest evidence of a Coe coming to Rockland
County indicates that Samuel Coe came in 1734. A photo of the
Roberts Homestead was listed in “Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and
Families in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York” by Rosalie
370 South Mountain Road – originally Coe
Built prior to 1799
The paternal Roberts
grandfather, William Roberts, came from Todmorden, Yorkshire County,
England. He was born in 1814, and we know that he was here in
America in 1848. Eliza Gibbons married William Roberts in 1866. The
original farm house of the Roberts family was built in 1710, and the
title passed through different hands, including Coe, Van Houten and
perhaps a few others, but in 1872 deeds show the sale of the farm
from Coe to Roberts. In 1906, Thomas M. Roberts married Ella Edith
Blauvelt. They had four children, Thomas Edwin, George Lawrence,
Richard James, and Alice Irene Roberts. On the farm, the Roberts’
kept cows and a team of horses. Mr. Roberts cut cordwood on South
Mountain and hauled it to Malley’s brickyard in Haverstraw. The
family had plenty of fresh milk and made their own butter. Raised
chickens for the eggs and for consumption. Two pigs were fattened
each year, butchered in the fall and sent out to be smoked. The
farm produced turnips, potatoes, cabbage, apples, pears, peaches,
plums and grapes. The children trapped mink, skunks, opossum and
raccoons, dried the hides, and sold the fur to a firm in New York
Roberts Family Homestead - From Coe to Roberts Built in 1710
In 1813, Van Houten and Coe
spent $100 to build Street School. The school consisted of two
rooms: one room for grades 1 to 4 and the other for grades 5 to 8.
There was an outhouse, a pot belly stove in each room, and a hand
pump for water on the south side of the school. As the population
of Clarkstown changed over the years, the school grew. Most of the
children of Lake Lucille attended Street School until it was shut
down in 1975 (it is now a community center). Congers High School
(now Congers Elementary School) was built in 1927. It was the first
High School in Clarkstown. Prior to that time, the children from
our area went to Haverstraw High School.
4 Lucille Blvd. –
Coe/Roberts House. Mill site in 1700’s
1860 Census for Clarkstown shows that at that time there were the
following livestock in the town: 677 horses, 850 oxen with calves,
1,111 cows, 97 sheep and 876 swine.
In 1865, the population of
Clarkstown was 4,023.
Stagg’s Corner, at
the intersection of Old Route 304 and South Mountain Road, was a
blacksmith shop in 1852.
A branch line of the New
Jersey and New York Railroad from Nanuet connected to New City in
One of our neighbors, Adolf
Zukor, who founded Paramount Pictures, lived at what now is known as
the Dellwood Country Club from 1918 to 1938.
Christie Airport on Old
Route 304, where there is now a defunct gas station, was created in
1929, converting the dairy farm into an airport. In 1929, flights
took passengers to see New York City and the Worlds Fair from the
skies above. In December 1969, the final flight out of the airport
The United Neighborhood
Guild owned 28.4 acres of land from 1912 to 1945. It owned the
house at 370 South Mountain Road, sited on1/3 of an acre; and the
remaining acres were on South Mountain Road east of Zukor Road. The
Guild was a recreational camp for low income people. It was part of
the American settlement house movement, which was started at Toynbee
Hall in London, England, in the year 1833.
During World War II, the
Huntington Estate (a large mansion where High Tor State Park is now)
was a rehabilitation center for wounded naval personnel who used the
lake to swim.
In 1955, the Tappan Zee
Bridge was completed, and this started the continuous development of
Our Lake Community
In 1927, developers
Gottlieb Schnepf, Frank E. Knox, and Tom Milsom bought from the
Roberts family 80 acres for $20,000 dollars, which included the
Dellwood community. They formed the Lake Lucille Realty Company.
Irving Blauvelt at that time lived at 4 Lucille Blvd. (In 1869, it
was known as the Garrison Homestead.) In 1928, Schnepf built the dam
which created our 17-acre lake. Schnepf and associates actually only
owned about 15.5 acres, and the Roberts family owned the western
portion of our lake, which is now divided into individual lots.
Lake Lucille is named after the wife of Frank E. Knox.
Schnepf started the Lake
Lucille Realty Co, Inc. to sell lots for cottages and bungalows. At
this time, Map #100 was established. The water system, which was
laid out on both sides of the lake, supplied water from a deep
artesian well drilled down into red sandstone rock. Later, the well,
which supplied the south side of the lake, went bad. Everyone there
had to drill his own well. The present well has a 5,000 gallon
storage tank to meet the needs of the 36 homes on the system. The
Schnepf barn, which was built by Charles Gibbs in 1920, housed cows
until 1927, when Schnepf purchased the property. It was located at
3 Lucille Blvd and was turned into a bar and restaurant. The house
at 4 Lucille Blvd. was built probably in the 1700’s and later
expanded. The house at 1 Lucille Blvd. was originally the sales
office for Schnepf. The house at 346 South Mountain Road was a small
general store run by Lillian Dembnicki’s mother. In the 1930’s, the
children would shop there for ice cream. Lillian’s father operated
an automotive repair shop at 247 Zukor Road. In the 1930’s there
were 14 homes here, used mostly as summer residences.
On the 22nd day
of August 1936, the Lake Lucille Property Owners Association was
formed. The original directors who formed the association were
William Dennis, C.O. Conklin, George Berg, Eminio Juliano, Robert
Beatty, C.H. Dyson, and Richard Hellmund.
Schnepf managed the
property, road repair, snow plowing, dam, maintenance, etc., until
his death. On August 16, 1956, the property was deeded to the Lake
Lucille Community Association, which in recent years was merged with
the Lake Lucille Property Owners Association (LLPOA). In 1956, the
dock on Lake Road was completed at a cost of $250.
In 1957, the
Association dues were $5.00 per year. The dam was showing signs of
deterioration in 1958, and dues were raised to $15.00 per year, with
$5.00 earmarked for a sinking fund for dam maintenance.
Constitution and Bylaws were published in 1959. A Certificate of
Privilege was issued to each homeowner. It stated that all guests
availing themselves of lake privileges must be accompanied by a
member of the immediate family, and that all cars must be parked on
the property of the member. To keep strangers off our private roads,
we had a provost marshal system with a roster to patrol the lake on
weekends. We had tags for each family, allowing them to swim and
use our roads. Members themselves performed all the work on our
roads. We had work parties in the spring and again in the fall. The
work parties kept our dues down and encouraged community
participation. Because of flooding, we had to raise and lower the
sluice gate by hand during bad weather.
In 1961, Eddie
Schnepf agreed to sell to the Association the Lake Water works,
pump-house, associated equipment and two 50 by 100 foot lots
fronting on Milsom Drive, $2,000 for the pump-house lot on the
corner and $1,000 for the adjoining lot. The Association assumed
ownership in 1962.
We had a Monster Turtle at
our Lake in 1962. It was a snapper who weighed somewhere between 40
and 60 pounds. It started hanging around the swimming area. It was
very traumatic, because we were afraid to go into the water. A
couple of evenings, all the fathers who had guns lined-up on the
shore taking aim. Every time the turtle poked its head up out of
water, they shot. They hit it many times, but the ole Monster swam
away. After not seeing it for a few days, we all became brave again
and went back into the water. The following summer, Harry Graziano
in a canoe shot a turtle with a bow and arrow, he was with his
sidekick Gary Davidson. After dragging it to shore (still alive)
they could see bullet holes in its shell, and everyone believed that
they finally killed the Monster. There were many snapping turtles at
the lake. Some of them were sold to Chinese Restaurants in the
County, going for about one dollar a pound.
We once celebrated
the holiday season by taking a piano out of Jean Grube’s house and
bringing it to the dam on the bed of a truck. We had one
streetlight, which was over the sluice gate. We only turned the
light on when we wanted to. Joe Horner hopped up on the truck and we
sang songs while he played. We drank lots of hot chocolate and glugg.
The lake was tested around
1967. We had a 90 percent oxygen rate, excellent for trout fishing.
In the early days, the Lake was fishing grounds for many rare Blue
The first Association picnic
started in the late 1950’s on Gunter Meier’s (now Roger Grahn’s) and
Fred Siegriest’s lawn. Later, it was held at Larry’s Field. Our
sound system for the picnic was a mike and amplifier that belonged
to the Fire Department. At that time, at least four or five members
were in the New City Fire Department, and four or five in the New
City Ambulance Corp. (Archie Davidson and Fred Siegriest were among
the first ones to organize the New City Ambulance Corp.) We have had
folk singers, square dance callers, bands at the picnic, games and
contests and once a little girl, a Gottesman daughter who happened
to be in the cast of Annie on Broadway, belted out a song on top of
a piano that belonged to a small band that we had hired. The
bandleader had us take his piano out of the Legion Hall in
Haverstraw and bring it to the field. There was an Ice House on
Route 202, where we bought ice for the picnic, and, of course,
always fresh Smith’s corn.
The present beach came about
in the early 1960’s through the efforts of the mothers (Betty Farkas,
Marge Cangiano, Toni Ceresnak, Marti Siegriest, Helen Puchelt and
others) of the lake. The children had outgrown the baby lake but
were still too young to use the dock and raft. They had no place to
swim. The parents surveyed the shoreline and decided on the present
spot. Mr. Steinberg, who lived across the road, had had his
vegetable garden there for many years, although it was lake
property. He was not pleased with the site we chose. However, the
mothers lobbied and the Association voted to establish a beach
there. But the mothers were asked to come up with the money to fund
it. So they held spaghetti dinners in the field. Tables, chairs,
and silverware were borrowed from the New City Fire Company and
Germonds church. They had a very successful event. With sweat
equity, a telephone company truck to pull out the stumps (thanks to
Winnie Wanamaker) and the spaghetti money, the beach was
established. The mothers then organized swimming lessons, and when
the children were old enough they became junior lifesavers.
In the late 1960’s, we
decided to repair the sluice gate. To do that we had to empty the
lake. Beside all the game fish, we had almost wall-to-wall goldfish
in the lake; not the bottom carp that we still have, but ten to
twelve inch fish. Well we had dead fish, literally thousands of
them, on the banks, down stream, etc. You could smell the stench in
New City. Every agency in the world was upon us wanting an
explanation. What we did was hire trucks, and each night when the
men came home from work we filled barrels of dead fish. The town
kept the dump open for us, and they buried the fish when it
arrived. This went on for at least two weeks.
In the last half of the
1960’s, we started our Aqua Fairs: fishing contest in the morning,
decorated boats with trophies as prizes, swimming contests according
to age groups, boat races, and the lake supplied refreshments for
all. It was a full summer’s day.
Annual ice skating parties
with a large bonfire on the lake and hot chocolate and glugg were
fun. We saved our Christmas trees to burn at the party.
Lawrence O. Rose, born and
raised in Lake Lucille was killed in action in the Vietnam War on
June 10, 1968, he was 20 years old. A member of the 101st
Airborne “Screaming Eagles.” To honor his memory, Fred Siegriest
and a friend built the base of the flagpole and Frank Cangiano had
the plaque inscribed. On the day of dedication, a bagpipe band
started from Brook Lane in front of the Rose home, and marched
through the streets. The whole community gathered at Larry’s Field,
along with a firing squad from West Point. The town supervisor, Paul
Mundt, Ed Jeffs and others spoke, Steven Farkas, who was a Boy
Scout, blew taps. The West Point honor guard fired volleys, and the
flag was raised. Archie Davidson obtained the flag which originally
flew over the Capital in Washington. Archie secured the flag with
the help of our Congressman John G. Dow. After the ceremony, the
Army Captain who was in charge of the honor guard, came over and
said, “This is what America is all about.”
During the Vietnam War, the
children of the lake organized a peace march, and at least thirty
children marched to Ed Jeffs’ house, the house of the only president
they knew, and they demanded that the war should end. He solemnly
said he would notify the President of the United States of their
In the 1970’s, we
were told that we had to have a lifeguard at the lake. We then hired
a swimming instructor, sixteen of us qualified as lifeguards.
After Hurricane Agnes in
1972, the dam was unable to control the water flow even with the
sluice gate open. The pavement on the bridge buckled and needed
replacement. Our downstream neighbors brought in the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers to assess the problem. They stated that we had
insufficient water retention capacity “ as a result of the natural
siltation process from the slopes above the lake due to construction
and sludge deposition by the town sewage treatment plant.” We
started our first attempts to get the lake dredged then.
Our lake was dying from
multiple causes. The town never assumed culpability for its
actions that allowed a sewer treatment plant to flow into the lake,
thus providing rich nutrients that increased the growth of algae.
The town also approved and put a sewer line into the lake directly
from the roads in Dellwood. This resulted in the oil from cars and
chemicals that are used to prevent weed growth flowing directly into
the lake. The town did nothing to prevent the silt from new
upstream construction from flowing into the lake. We became
alarmed, and started our efforts to reclaim and preserve the lake.
Frank Contalmo, our president at the time started the research that
was necessary to begin our fight. People started working hard to
get the lake dredged, countless meetings from 1972 to 1990’s. Two
people were prominent in this drive, firstly Jaya Bhattacharyya and
Terri Thal, who worked closely with town officials and the DEC, and
mobilized the community; others who continually fought were Bill
McKinstry, Steve Wren, Steve Murphy, Sandy Bergold, Carol Palustre,
Anjan Bjattacharyya, Ed Jeffs, Fred Siegriest, Mabel Krasny, Roger
and Marie Grahn, I am sure there were others, because we all were
In 1975 on March 11th,
Ella E. Roberts died, the Roberts’ property was passed to her four
children, and was subsequently sold to developers. It was the end
of an era for the Roberts family. Richard Roberts still lives on
part of the property.
When the Roberts land was
developed, the West Branch Conservation Association convinced the
town to cluster the new development. The almost 70 houses were kept
away from our lake, as a result our view of the lake was scarcely
In 1980, the Department of
Health, forced the town to put in sewers. Leech fields were
affecting our wells and also contaminating the lake. All homeowners
had to stop using their septic tanks and connect to the sewer
In the early
1980’s, someone enticed a movie company to come in here. They shot
pictures of someone swimming off the dam and in the lake. There and
wires all over the place. As it turned out, it was for a soap
opera, and our chance for fame was about 30 seconds.
Women always have been
active in the lake community, but none were trustees until the
1980’s. The first women trustee was Marti Siegriest, who was
appointed by our president, Frank Cangiano. Mabel Krasny was our
first woman president and Terri Thal was vice president.
The Association in 1985
purchased the Baby Lake for $3,500 from the F.L. Holding Corp. This
purchase included the south side of the Baby Lake, which is bounded
by Lucille Boulevard, and Brook Lane. It also follows a very narrow
strip on both sides of the brook down to Zukor Road.
During the 1990’s, the lake
was deteriorating rapidly. Hurricane Floyd, in September 1999, was a
disaster for many of our residents. Basements were flooded and deep
holes were created by the raging waters. The efforts to dredge the
lake became more intensive. Eventually , LLPOA residents asked the
the town to create a water district comprising the residents of Map
#100 and residents of Dellwood and Roberts developments whose houses
had lakefront property. We faced the problems of how to clean up the
lake and stop the storm damage. With the help of town supervisor,
Charlie Holbrook, a lake district was formed, at a cost to
ourselves. Thomas Morahan and Alexander Gromack were instrumental in
helping us accomplish our goals. In 2001, the lake was dredged, the
shoreline reestablished and the dam rebuilt to handle our flooding
problems and revitalize the lake.
Fred Siegriest Dam
and Baby Lake – 2004
On October 14, 2001, the
Association gathered at our newly-constructed dam to dedicate it to
the memory of Fred Siegriest. Steve Wren opened the ceremony, then
Elizabeth Carl and Julie Wendholt sang “America the Beautiful,” Ed
Jeffs, Roger Grahn, Brian Davidson, and Anjan Bhattacharyya all
spoke from their hearts. Fred truly gave his being, energy and
efforts to the community. Ed Jeffs wrote the inscription on the
bronze plaque. Greg Giler moved the rock and affixed the plaque,
and Steve Murphy coordinated our efforts. Liz Carl and Julie
Wendholt sang songs, Zaraleya and Carmi Harari prepared the hot dogs
and hamburgers. The sound system was by Ross Wanamaker.
On August 23, 2003 on the
lawns of Brian Mertes and Melissa Kievman (4 Lucille Blvd.), the
people of Lake Lucille had the joy of watching “The Seagull” by
Anton Chekhov performed by eleven actors. Brian Mertes directed the
production and Melissa Kievman was the Producer/Chef. They spent
five days rehearsing, and the actors were outstanding. A barbeque
occurred between Acts 3 and 4. It was a highly enjoyable evening.
This was a one-night only performance.
On June 5th,
2004, there was a film crew at the lake shooting a movie called
“Viking Rusty Forkblood.” Evan Daugherty from NYU was the writer
director, most of the film was shot were in Harriman, but the lake
scenes were shot here. The horse that they rented was beautiful. The
woman riding it was charming and the crew were great.
On August 21st,
2004, Brian & Melissa Mertes produced and directed the “Three
Sisters” by Anton Chekov on their lawn. There was a haunting moment
during the third act when the town was burning, about 400 hundred
candles were floating in the lake, they reflected the burning town,
the deaths, and the affirmation of our existence. Vershinin, in the
play, sort of sums up Chekov when he says, “For many of us, life is
lonely and hopeless, and yet, we know, that all the while, slowly
but surely it grows clearer and brighter, and the time will not be
distant when we shall live in radiance and light.” The actors were
simply great. They were spirited, they danced, they sang, giving
their whole heart to the performance. The barbeque after the third
act, raised money for Habitat for Humanity. Some of the families
that participated in the event to help accomplish its goals with
food, shelter, etc. were as follows: Carl, Dreeke, Green, Intrator,
Jeffs, Leavitt, Murphy, Riddle, Rocker, Shapot, Sinai, Wallace,
ICE SKATING BON FIRE –
The end of the freezing
spell was upon us, the ice was still frozen, but the melt was
beginning. Joan Murphy chaired the ice skating party. There was hot
chocolate for the young ones, and hot buttered rum for those who
like to be young again. The preparation was a community event.
Mathew Murphy, Brendan Wren and Greg Rose did the pioneering work of
clearing the ice. Steve Wren and David Harold supplied the food for
the bon fire, Robin Dreeke tested the depth of the ice. The ice was
an average of 9 inches deep, perfectly safe. Everyone enjoyed the
Reference Sources for
“A History of Lake Lucille”
New City Library Historical
Historical Society of
Rockland County Records
“Pleasant Memories” by
Lake Lucille Historical