The Stevens House and Family History

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The Stevens House was built in 1923 (although foundation construction began as early as 1917) by Charles Stevens, a man of German heritage (Sprague family), machinist by trade, who ran the Bellmore Ferry Service to High Hill Beach (he owned three ferry boats). His wife, Pauline Annie managed The Breakers Hotel on High Hill Beach.

The house was built with and for their son Stan (1896-1972) and his wife Lucy (1898-1974) who had a daughter, Joan (1933-2009). Stan, Lucy and their daughter Joan were Quakers and congregated at the Quaker Meeting House in Wantagh.

Lucy Stevens was a Swiss immigrant who worked as a nanny on High Hill Beach. It was on High Hill Beach that she met Stan Stevens. Lucy’s ideas for the design of the Stevens House came from the memories of her homeland and the Swiss Cottage Style architecture with unique characteristics. It was also influenced by the 1920’s cottage architecture representative of Long Island Baymen homes. The home maintained its almost century-old picket fence, brick walkway, garage, fireplace, build-in furniture that includes daybed, window seat, and caddy-corner cabinets.

The Stevens House had a large parcel of land that included beautiful gardens with flowers, bushes and trees of the time period. It was planned, planted and maintained for decades with great care by Lucy and Joan Stevens. It represented a sampling of native Long Island flora and fauna along the original Bellmore shoreline.

“Captain” Stan Stevens owned a tugboat business that had been involved in many historic building projects within the Bellmore community and on the South Shore of Long Island. His two tugboats were “The Husky” and “The Wrestler” (referred to as a bridge builder). Stan Stevens tugboat business was involved in the building of the Wantagh Parkway to Jones Beach, moving brick and cement to build the Jones Beach Water Tower, dredging the land for the building of “South” Bellmore, and the towing of steel and other materials needed for the building of the Fire Island Causeway. Stan worked directly with Carl Koch and is given credit for his labors in the book Men of Steel – The Story of the Family That Built the World Trade Center (also documented in his work diaries).

Stan was an active bayman and boat builder who was very involved in the local boating community. He owned a boat house on Barbara Road and a boat yard bordering Carlson’s on Public Highway in Bellmore (going south on Bellmore Avenue, first block on the left after “Captains Inn”). He owned a classic sail boat “The Kid” that is now on display at the Sayville Maritime Museum. Its skiff, named after his daughter, was the “Joanie”. He is well-known for his building of the community (literally and figuratively) and for the annual Stevens Clam Party at the Boat House.

A recorded interview with Stan Stevens towards the end of his life is part of the Long Island Traditions, South Shore Estuary archives. In this interview, Stan offers a glimpse into his life and work. A notable statement made was: “He had a tugboat like a cowboy has a horse”.

Joan Stevens, daughter of Stan and Lucy was raised in the Stevens house and lived there until the end of her life in 2009. Her life as a member of the Bellmore community is well-documented in her photo albums. Her home was left as a “time capsule” providing us with a momentary look into Bellmore past (1930’s-1970’s) to the benefit of all those interested in the history and camaraderie representative in life along the original Bellmore shoreline.

It is our goal that this family’s contributions to the vitality of the Bellmore community will not go unrecognized. Their house was an amazing representation of Bellmore’s past and represented the best in what Bellmore wants to preserve for its future. Their house was unique in its character, design and aesthetic beauty (home and property) and exemplified how family life existed along the original Bellmore shoreline during the early part of this century. Its memory is a gift that we would like to share with those who have a mutual desire towards maintaining important landmarks such as the Stevens House and the open spaces that are left on the South Shore of Long Island.