History

The Stamford Historical Society has a great deal of information about Shippan Point.  Below are links to some of their information:

HISTORICAL SEASIDE PHOTOS

MARION CASTLE

In 1993, the Shippan Point Association, with assistance from the Stamford Historical Society and many individuals produced the “Brief History of Shippan, reproduced in part below.  The information contained in this history was correct as of 1993.

A Brief History of Shippan

Welcome to Shippan, a peninsula of 800 acres extending south into Long Island Sound. Shippan is an ideal residential community with its broad mile long avenue, beautiful plantings and scenic beaches.

Stamford, once known as Rippowam, was sold by the native Indians to the English settlers. One such deed of July 1, 1640 acknowledges the sale of land to Nathanael Turner of Quenepiocke in exchange for one dozen each of coats, hoes, hatchets, glasses, knives, two kettles and four “fathom of white wampum.” The deed bears the marks of Ponus Sagamore of Toquams, his son Owenoke Sagamore, as well as Wascussue Sagamore of Shippan.

For the next 50 years the English settlers tended to the corn fields, each being responsible for a five-rail fence. By the end of the 17th century, the land was divided into very precise quantities as determined by the landowners at their town meetings. Early settlers included: the Ambers, Beldings, Hoyts, Jaggers, Pettits, Waterburys and Weeds.

Belding’s Bluff at the southeastern tip of the peninsula, was once a farm of over 100 acres. When Benjamin Belding died in 1741, his children sold off part of the farm to John Lloyd, a ship owner and operator of a general store at the mouth of the Mill River. Lloyd’s father owned the section of Long Island known as Lloyd’s Neck, which was occupied by the British during the American Revolution. On the night of September 5, 1779, Colonel Benjamin Talmadge led a force of 130 men from Shippan Point to Lloyd’s Neck, where the surprised Tories surrendered. Several years later, Talmadge was told of a loyalist troop movement on eastern L.I. Talmadge wrote George Washington for permission to cut off the detachment. Once again Shippan was chosen as the site of embarkation, but two days of stormy winter weather thwarted the mission.After the Revolutionary War, several large farms of 100 acres or more flourished on Shippan. In 1799 Moses Rogers paid $8,000 for 102 acres. In 1800 he purchased 74 additional acres for $2,791. In 1806 he purchased the Waterbury farm for $10,000 bringing his land holdings to over 400 acres and eventually owning the entire southern part of the point.

Rogers, a wealthy merchant, formed a partnership with William Walton Woolsey in 1792. Rogers was a director of the United States Bank in 1793, governor of New York Hospital from 1792 to 1797, and a supporter of the New York Society for the Manumission of Slaves. In 1792, Moses Rogers married Sarah Woolsey, sister of one-time Yale College president Timothy Dwight. In 1812, Rogers built a European styled mansion on the east side of Shippan Avenue, a few hundred feet from where Ocean Drive East is today. A description of the estate can be found in the 1822 book Travels In New England And New York written by Timothy Dwight:  “Here Mr. Rogers has formed an avenue, a mile in length, reaching quite to the water’s edge. At the same time, he has planted on the grounds surrounding the house almost all the forest trees which are indigenous to this country. To these he has united plantations of fruit trees, a with garden, and other interesting objects, so combined as to make this one of the pleasantest retreats in he United States”.

Rogers brought in Royal L. Gay from Stafford Springs, CT, to mHanage the estate. Gay was Stafford’s selectman and treasurer for years and was also representative to the State Legislature. When Moses Rogers died in 1825, he left his estate to two sons, a daughter, and several grand-children, brothers and nephews, who administered the estate until the end of the century. The mansion house and surrounding buildings were leased to Isaac Bragg for $400 a year. Bragg was told to protect the garden and specimen plantings, especially in the area south of the house, known as “The Park.” Bragg ran a boarding school on the estate until it fell into disrepair. New tenant S.E. Lawrence restored the property which became a popular picnic area in the summer months, peaking on a day in 1845 with over 500 people.

Marion Castle on Shippan Point

After the last surviving child of Moses Rogers died in 1866, the first of many public auctions of Shippan land took place. Sally Scofield placed the highest bid of $980 for ten acres in the middle of the peninsula. Hundreds of people attended the auctions, and in 1869, Harpers Weekly printed a few scenes of the area. A year later, the Rogers’ estate distributed a booklet describing the property. In the 1870’s the estate was divided into 400 lots and new streets were made. Two of the streets were named after Rogers’ grandchildren: Van Rensselaer and Verplanck. It was not until 1913 that Rogers’ own name was used as a street name.

In 1885 several large plots of land on the southeastern shore were sold for about $2,000 each. That same year Colonel Woolsey Rogers Hopkins, son of Sarah Elizabeth Hopkins, and grandson of Moses Rogers, paid $8,000 for several land parcels south of the Ocean House hotel. In 1887, Colonel Hopkins built the large mansion at 192 Ocean Drive East. As first president of the Stamford Historical Society, he often entertained its members at his “Holiday House.” Early in the 20th century the house was sold to the Andrus family, who still own it today.

To promote visitors to the area, the Ocean House hotel was built in 1870, and stood where the Woodway Beach Club is today. Michael McDeavitt became the proprietor and renamed it the Shippan House. By 1890 he had a pavilion, bath houses, a casino and a carousel from Asbury Park N.J. In 1905 it was moved nearer the racetrack, where the Marina Bay condos are today.

With Stamford Harbor on the west-side of the point, and Westcott Cove to the east, boats were plentiful in the summer months. The Reverend Potter’s yacht PEARL was one of the more impressive sights at Stamford Harbor. A new steamer ship THE SHIPPAN, was built in 1866. Some of these vessels ferried passengers to the newly opened Shippan resorts of Ennis and McDeavitt. The racetrack at the northeast end of the peninsula brought even more visitors, so in 1892 the Stamford Street Railway began trolley service to Shippan.

The Stamford Yacht Club

The Stamford Yacht Club was formed in 1890, and the following year, William A. Lottimer was named its first Commodore. The four acres on the western shore were developed by N.W. Barrett of Bridgeport. The club boasted the pleasures of yachting, bathing, tennis, croquet, concerts and receptions. A fire destroyed the original clubhouse in 1913, but within a year a new structure had taken its place. The Halloween Yacht Club on the other side of the peninsula near Cummings Park was organized in 1926. Both of these yacht clubs are still operating today.

In 1887, John Ennis bought land at the southwest end of the point and erected a bathing pavilion in the water. Waders could enjoy the refreshing salt water without the worry of sunburn. Some of the grounds were cleared for playing fields, and the shed for 150 horses soon became inadequate the number of people coming there. Between 1891 and 1893 many meetings for of the Common Council were held to discuss the sale of Ennis’ Park to the town of Stamford. On Halloween night in 1906, Mayor Homer Cummings cast the deciding vote that turned the 95 acres of land into a public park. The park, originally called Halloween Park, was developed by civil engineer George Stadel. In 1916 a nine-hole golf course was built there, and later it was renamed Cummings Park.

In 1899 the Moses Rogers house was purchased by the Fosdick Syndicate, later called the Shippan Manor Company. A Mr. Marriot opened the Manor School there. A three story dormitory was added in 1902, which later became home to the Stamford Military Academy. Years later it became the Massee School. A new building was built on the west side of Shippan Avenue, and in 1911 it became the school of Miss Low and Miss Heywood. At about this time Leonard Barsaghi bought and renovated the Shippan House and the casino on the eastern shore.

Real estate continued to flourish, and James Jenkins of the Shippan Land Company developed over 100 acres of Shippan property. They brought in landfill, and in 1913 opened the new roads of Saddle Rock and Rogers. One year later, Frank J. Marion, a producer of the early “one-reeler” silent films, had a castle built at 1 Rogers Road. Marion Castle was designed by the architectural firm Hunt and Hunt of New York City. When Frank Marion died in 1963, at 96, the property was sold to Martha and David Cogan. Martha was renown for saving many children from Hitler, David was an inventor and leader in the development of radio and television, helping to develop the first color television tube for CBS. In 1978, Jay Kobrin and Gordon Micunis of Gordon Micunis Designs purchased Marion Castle. They were influential in placing it on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Shippan Point Association was formed in 1902. Its 25 members sought to protect the beauty of the land by preventing industry from developing. Many arguments ensued between the Association and the town of Stamford over Shippan’s needs. In 1916, a request for the paving of the avenue was issued, but it was not until 1931 that the road was concreted. In 1924, the Association fought for its own zoning rules against the dump site near the Stamford Rubber Company factory on Magee Ave. Complaints about the high taxes and few services went unheeded. The dissatisfaction reached a head in 1927 when the Shippan Town Charter Committee sent a petition to the State legislature to recognize Shippan as a private entity but the request to secede from the town of Stamford was denied. The Shippan Improvement Association was eventually renamed The Shippan Point Association, a neighborhood organization which is according to its bylaws: “a voluntary, non-political, non-profit corporation organized to safeguard the mutual interest and welfare of its members; to preserve and enhance the physical beauty and tranquility of the area; to ensure the safety of it’s inhabitants; to protect the integrity of the environment and the historic nature of Shippan Point as well as the value of the individual properties located therein; and to do all and everything necessary, suitable, and proper for the attainment of any of these purposes, including, without limitation, submissions to and appearances before municipal, state, and federal boards and agencies”.

©1993 Shippan Point Association, Inc.