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William Floyd Estate celebrates 300 years

A new exhibit at the Mastic Beach property shares historic documents that the public has never seen, including the original deed, according to the National Park Service.

As the William Floyd Estate marks its 300th year, the National Park Service showcased a special exhibit chronicling historic milestones of the prominent Long Island family. A celebration of the Mastic Beach property's tricentennial on Saturday featured the unveiling of a new historic marker, detailing the property's significance. In addition to exploring 25 rooms of the estate, visitors can also see an exhibit that opened in late May featuring family artifacts that had never been shared with the public. One such relic is the original Floyd Farm deed from 1718, when Richard Floyd Jr. acquired the original 4,400-acre property, according to the National Park Service. (Credit: Ed Betz)

As the William Floyd Estate marks its 300th year, the National Park Service is showcasing a special exhibit chronicling historic milestones of the prominent Long Island family. 

A celebration of the Mastic Beach property's tricentennial on Saturday will feature the unveiling of a new historic marker, detailing the property's significance. In addition to exploring 25 rooms of the estate, visitors can also see an exhibit that opened in late May featuring family artifacts that had never been shared with the public. One such relic is the original Floyd Farm deed from 1718, when Richard Floyd Jr. acquired the original 4,400-acre property, according to the National Park Service.

The estate, which now consists of 613 acres of the original property, is best known for being the ancestral home of Floyd's grandson William Floyd, who signed the Declaration of Independence. 

Visitors to the estate can view a collection of 18th century relics that tell the story of Richard Floyd Jr.'s life, as well as a 15-pound leather family Bible brought from Europe that lists the births of all of his children.

"He was quite the mover and shaker for his time period," said Park Ranger Mary Laura Lamont, who spent the entire winter curating the exhibit. "He's the guy that got it all started on this farm."

Nine generations of the Floyd family lived at the site until 1976, when Cornelia Floyd Nichols donated the property to the National Park Service.

The exhibit, "A Celebration of 300 Years," is especially exciting because of its broad scope, said Mike Lubrano, president of the Friends of the William Floyd Estate organization.  Past exhibits at the estate have largely focused on a certain person or time period, he added.

“This year’s special exhibit has a little of this and a little of that, spanning the entire history of the estate,” Lubrano said. 

The exhibit also looks at later generations of the family and its broader legacy, including family members' roles through the Civil War era to World War I. 

For the first time, the park service is focusing on women in the family, including two who were Army nurses during World War I, Lamont said. Helen Floyd was stationed in France right behind the front lines, and Sue Nichols, a Red Cross nurse, wrote a book on her experience during the war. The exhibit will include Helen Floyd's original diary detailing the experiences of the soldiers.

There are also the many stories of slaves and laborers on the estate from the 1600s to the 1900s, Lamont said. 

Curating the exhibit was an exercise in unearthing stories from the family's past, Lamont said.

"It's just a matter of doing the research on specific items and highlighting those stories," she said. 

Part of the estate's unique attraction is that everything has been left unchanged, since the estate was passed down to the park service nearly intact, Lamont said. Nearly all the silverware, documents and paintings have been on display for more than 150 years, she added. 

Saturday's free celebration is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call 631-399-2030.

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