Historic Places to Visit in and around Massapequa By Kelly Walter
Many Massapequa residents, even those who have lived here their whole lives, may be surprised to find that centuries of history are at their fingertips. Nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of Massapequa, lies several major historical sites, which contain fascinating clues to the history of Massapequa.
The JonesCemetery is located in the Historic Complex of the Massapequas, on Merrick Road. This cemetery actually does not include the gravesites around the church, as is commonly thought. It begins after passing through a wooden archway in the rear of the complex.
The namesake of the cemetery is Major Thomas Jones, the first recorded non-Indian Massapequa settler. He owned a great deal of land in the South Shore of Long Island, including JonesBeachState Park, which was also named after him. This historic area was an obscure part of the Floyd-Jones property, making it a “farm cemetery.”
Many members of the Floyd- Jones family are buried there, as is indicated by the gravestones that surround the large crucifix. Major Thomas Jones and his wife Freelove were buried here and are the oldest gravesites at this location, dating back to the early 1700’s.
The Old Grace Church
The Old Grace Church is also in the Historic Complex of the Massapequas. It is the most recognizable of the historic sites at this location. The Historical Society of the Massapequas has maintained the church, like all of the areas in the complex.
The Floyd-Jones family donated the land for the church and it was erected in 1844. It was designed by Elbert Floyd Jones and cost $1,300 to build. The church originally was made of clapboard and was smaller. It was only open in the summer months since many Massapequa residents lived elsewhere during the winter and this was the only church in Massapequa until after World War II.
In 1904, a committee was organized to renovate the church to hold 150 people and the clapboard was replaced with shingles. It was made to look as it does today.
The church has beautiful stained glass windows, some of which were moved to the Grace Church across the street. However, the window above the altar is original to the church and was made by the prestigious Heaton, Butler, and Bayne firm in London. It depicts Jesus and his disciples and was a memorial to Thomas and Henry O. Floyd-Jones. Some other items in the church were donated as a memorial to important figures, such as the white marble altar, the brass communion rail and the pipe organ.
Tours of this magnificent church, as well as the rest of the Historical Complex, are available upon request from the Historical Society of the Massapequas. For more information, call (516) 798-8047.
The Elbert Floyd-Jones Servants’ Cottage
The Floyd-Jones Cottage was donated to the Historical Society of the Massapequas and was moved from its location to the Historic Complex of the Massapequas in 1986. It was originally located on the south side of Merrick Road.
This red and white house was the servant’s cottage for Elbert Floyd Jones and his wife Elizabeth Morrison. Elbert Floyd Jones was the great great great grandson of Major Thomas Jones. Elbert was in the New York State Assembly and was also even nominated as Vice President of the United States.
After the death of Elbert and Elizabeth, the house was owned by many prominent families and was later made into a tenant house until the property was divided up for development.
Due to the fact that the house was relocated, the house was not eligible for landmark status. However its history still lives on at the complex, where it serves as a museum for antiques and Indian artifacts.
The DeLancey Floyd-Jones Free Library
The Floyd-Jones Library is the small brown house, located in the Historic Complex of the Massapequas and was the first and only library in the Massapequas until the 1950’s.
DeLancey Floyd-Jones, a civil war veteran, donated the library. At the time of its erection, outings to the library were very popular social occasions. Anyone who paid for a key to the library was also allowed to use the library for meetings and borrow a book from the library’s collection on their own.
The library contains 6,000 books, which were published before 1950. Many of these books are not available anywhere else on Long Island. The library is filled with historic memorabilia, including original furniture and pictures of the Floyd-Jones family. There are also rocking chairs for those who wish to just come and read.
The library is open Wednesday and Saturday 10 A.M. to 1 P.M.
St. Gregory Nyssa Church
St. Gregory’s is an orthodox church at 1100 Hicksville Road in Massapequa. This charming church was originally an EpiscopalianChurch, founded in 1895.
It was acquired and transformed into an Orthodox Christian Church in the 1980’s, and the Town of Oyster Bay named St. Gregory’s a designated landmark on May 5, 1987.
However, despite its historic standing and its beauty, some alterations were necessary. The small church needed to be enlarged to hold the growing number of parishioners. Due to this, three years ago there was a major renovation, in which the church was expanded. Certain architectural structures still remain though, like the stunning stained glass windows, which are original to the church.
Father Matthias Moriak presides over mass, which is held on Sundays at 9:30 A.M.
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