Across the river from Bayard Cutting Arboretum stands the large red-brick and gray-stone structure that was part of William Kissam Vanderbilt's estate. W. K. Vanderbilt's "Idle Hour," a 110-room, English-style mansion, was designed by Richard Howland Hunt. Completed in 1901, it replaced an earlier manor destroyed by fire.
W. K. Vanderbilt was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, a railroad magnate, and the son of William H. Vanderbilt, who, in 1881, was said to be the richest man in America.
W. K. was a member of the South Side Sportsmen's Club, as was Bayard Cutting. There was good-natured competition between these wealthy men.
Harold S. Vanderbilt inherited the estate after his father W. K.'s death in 1920. The estate was put up for sale, and three years later, Edmund C. Burke developed a large portion of the land.
The mansion changed hands many times until 1963, when Adelphi Suffolk College purchased it and changed its name to Dowling College.
Paddle-wheel Steamer, Mosquito
The Vanderbilt family enjoyed many hours fishing and boating on their 78-foot, paddlewheel steamer. The Mosquito was built in 1890 and moored in the Connetquot River.
In the early 1920s it was sold to the Sayville Steamboat Company and used as a Sayville to Point-of-Woods ferry.
An Environmental Treasure
The early presence of large estates has protected much of the Connetquot River and its shores from dense development.
W. L Breese, W. Bayard Cutting,
W. K. Vanderbilt, and C. R. Robert owned large tracts of land along this picturesque river. At the headwaters of the river was the South Side Sportsmen's Club. The families who owned these great estates are gone, but their legacies still provide protection for the river. Today, the Connetquot River remains one of Long Island's cleanest rivers.
The stretch of river between the Vanderbilt and Cutting estates was called "The Bass Hole."
It was known for excellent fishing. This photograph of two unknown fishermen dates to ca. 1910. The W. K. Vanderbilt mansion Idle Hour is visible across the river.