Stony Brook’s six-acre Smoke Run Farm is on the market for $1.2 million.
Ken Johnson, who is selling the compound, says his mother, Joan Johnson, purchased the property in 1963 from Ward Melville. “When my mother saw this place, it had been vacant for three years, and it wasn’t for sale,” Johnson says. “But Ward Melville, who was a sort of benefactor of Stony Brook, sold it to my mom anyway. Then my mom started a summer camp and a riding school. At one point, we had 40 horses there.”
Joan Johnson always loved horses, but before she bought the property, she was a pilot. In fact, she was originally an acrobatic pilot, and then became one of only 18 women selected by the U.S. government to participate in the Air Force Acrobatic Program, which was designed to test whether women could fly in combat, says her son. Although she was the only woman to complete the program, she never flew for the government, and instead met her husband, Ralph, a flight instructor and pilot, and came to Stony Brook to start a family and a summer camp.
Today, the property still retains many of its summer camp charms, from the 22-by-42-foot pool, which was repaired and restored last year, to the barn and horse stables, which are still suited for equestrian use. The main house, which was built in either 1870 or 1890 — records vary — has six bedrooms, 4 1⁄2 bathrooms and four fireplaces, one of which is two stories high and mason-built out of matching stones. Also on the property is a four-bedroom, two-bath guesthouse built over the three-car garage.
While the equestrian summer camp Joan Johnson started is no longer in business, her son says he hopes that the property will end up with a new family that will cherish his mother’s legacy as much as the Stony Brook community has. “We’re hoping to find a family to pass this on to, so they can stay there for another 50 or 60 years,” he says. “The community has been coming to this place for over 45 years, and there are kids in Stony Brook who’ve grown up here. And when you’re standing there on the property, it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere but still close to everything.”
The farm is listed with Gina Lollo of Northshore Properties Realty.