Historic and Natural Districts Inventory Form

Unless indicated below, this is a transcript of the original Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities/Town of Brookhaven survey form. Corrections to obvious typographical and spelling errors have been made. Corrections to factual errors, updates or comments on the information are either enclosed in [square brackets], or will be clearly indicated as updated material. Since most of the surveys were conducted in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, much of the information reflects that time period. Included in this category are sites for which some documentation may exist but are no longer extant often with little or no modern evidence at the site.

Sites which have a suffix of “S” are supplemental sites not included in the original surveys.


Charles Starke House - Shore Acres (Fire Place Nature Preserve)

Archeological Site Inventory Form

Fire Place Manse or Parsonage Lands

 If checked, this is a Supplemental Form, not in the original surveys.

Inventory Code:   Br38.150-S 
Prepared Date:   2009-10-23 
Last Modified:   1970-01-01 
Submitter Name:   John Deitz
Submitter Address:   7 Locust Rd.

Brookhaven, NY 11719  
1-Site Name:   Charles Starke House - Shore Acres (Fire Place Nature Preserve) 
2a-County:   Suffolk    2b-Town:   Brookhaven    2c-Village:   Hamlet of Brookhaven
   4a-Public Site    4b-Private Site
4-Present Owner:  Town of Brookhaven "Fire Place Nature Preserve"   5a-Address:  West side, south end of Bay Road,
Historic and Architectural Importance

One of several guest houses in Brookhaven Hamlet in the early 20th century. Now site of the Fire Place Nature Preserve.

6- Description, Condition, Evidence of Site

As was the early custom, a large tracts of land (called a manse, or parsonage lands) were set aside by the Town of Brookhaven for the benefit of the ministers of the Town church, in general as a farm to provide for their sustenance. Such a tract was provided in Fire Place for the Church at the South (the South Haven Presbyterian Church).  This tract included the section north of the northern boundary of the Corwin farm (the present LIRR right-of-way), between Old Town Road/South Country road on the west, the southern boundary of the Great Division of Lots (Montauk Highway), and east to Little Neck Run. (See map).

 6a-Standing Ruins

 6b-Cellar Hole with Walls  

 6c-Surface Traces Visible  6d-Walls Without Cellar Hole
 6e-Under Cultivation  6f-Erosion
 6g-Underwater  6h-No Visible Evidence
 6i-Other It is said that the site of the original house (or perhaps a rebuilt structure) can still be found within the Fire Place Nature Preserve. Not yet investigated.  
7- Collection of Material from Site
 7a- Surface Hunting By Whom:    Date:  
 7b-Testing By Whom:  Date:  
 7c-Excavation By Whom:  Date: 
7e-Present Repository of Materials  
8- Prehistoric Cultural Affiliation or Date
9-Historical Documentation of Site
Suffolk County News (Sayville), 13 February 1903, p. 1:

MID WINTER FIRES: A Fine House at Brookhaven

A disastous fire occurred at Brookhaven early last Friday morning [6 February 1903] just after midnight on the beautiful place, Shore Acres, the property of Charles Stark, on the point. The terrific wind that had blown all Thursday increased by night , and fanned the fire furiously. Shore Acres was built about two years ago, and was one of the finest houses in that section. It was erected by Bellport builders at a cost of over $15,000. It occupied on of the most picturesque points on the Great South Bay, from which the Fire Island light can be plainly seen on a clear night. It is opposite the historical "Smith's Point," across Carman's River.

The Bellport fire company responded in a very short time, and reached the fire in remarkably quick time, considering the distance they had to go over two of the highest hills in the vicinity.* The men worked with a hearty will for several hours before the fire was gotten under control. It was feared that the handsome place of John Gorman, of Rodney street, Brooklyn, might catch fire, as the meadows burned wildly for some time.

Mr Stark is well known on Long Island and in Brooklyn, and with the destruction of this beautiful place, Brookhaven loses one of its most popular summer resorts, where many well known Brooklyn and New York people spent last season.

The meadows caught fire and burned for a great distance along the bay shore. From a distance the burning grass looked like the lights of a great city, and the reflection shone for a long distance on the waters of the bay.

From the Archives of the Long Island Advance,100 Years Ago 6 Feb, 2003:

Last night during the gale the fine residence of Mr. Charles Starke was totally destroyed by fire. The family of four barely escaped with their lives. The first intimation they had of the fire was the windows falling in above their beds. Mrs. Starke was awakened first. The high wind helped the flames to quickly consume the big barn with its horse, carriages and entire contents. The origin of the fire is unknown. The loss is heavy as the house was the finest in Brookhaven. It stood at the foot of Bay Avenue, directly on the shore of the bay. The total loss is estimated at $10,000, partially insured. The Bellport fire bell rang and people from both villages went, but nothing could be done to save the building.

* In 1903, the Bellport Fire Department had no mechanized equipment -- the first motorized truck was not purchased until 1916. Until then, equipment was hand-drawn. The first pumping engine was not purchased until 1924. See History of the Bellport Fire Department. The "hills" mentioned were likely the two hollows between Bellport and Brookhaven -- Clam Hollow just east of the George Washington Lodge, and Otter Hollow which today is modern Bellhaven Road. There is also a hollow at Mott Creek at the village's eastern boundary. While these knolls seem minor today, pulling hand-drawn equipment on a dirt road over them would have been no mean task. The total distance from Bellport to the fire scene is about 2.5 miles.

John Gorman had a house near the bay at the foot of Mott Lane (aka Gorman Lane), about 0.5 mile to the east. It no longer exists.

10- Possibility of Site Destruction or Disturbance
Destroyed by fire 6 February 1903  «»
"Starke's Hotel" is mentioned in an article in the Patchogue Advance describing the purchase of the Gwynne House (Historic Side ID Br28) by Freeman J. Rohde in 1901: "Mr. Rohde had ridden out from New York city on his bicycle and spent the night at Starke's hotel on Bay road. He was so favorably impressed with Brookhaven village that, before he left, he bought the house and property from Sydney Hawkins."
12- Map Location
    [If an original form, the source map images were not reproducible.]
12a- 7 1/2 Minute Quad. Name: 
12b- 15 Minute Quad. Name:   
12c- U.S.G.S Coordinates:   
12d- D.O.T. Coordinates:  (if known):   
Other Maps:   
13- Photographs
  Photos and images  
Supplemental Material
Prepared By
  John Deitz