Fire Island National Seashore | WILLIAM FLOYD ESTATE

Grounds of the William Floyd Estate

Grounds of the William Floyd Estate

The William Floyd Estate at Mastic Beach on Long Island remained in the Floyd Family for eight generations until it was donated to the National Park Service in 1976. The historical significance of the property comes from the fact that William Floyd was born there in 1734, and he went on to become a signer of the Declaration of Independence. William’s grandfather, Richard Floyd, purchased the 4,400-acre estate in 1718, and his father, Nicholl, inherited the property, building a modest six-room house in 1724. Additions were made all the way up through the 1920s, expanding the house to 27 rooms.

William inherited the property in 1755 and ran a plantation, growing a variety of grains and raising livestock. He used slaves, indentured servants, and paid laborers to run his business. Floyd also participated in politics and was a member of the First and Second Continental Congress. He later served as a New York State Senator.

The current estate consists of 613 acres of woodlands and marsh, the Old Mastic House (the name given to the Floyd mansion), eleven outbuildings, and a family cemetery. Tours of Old Mastic House are given every half hour when the estate is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Memorial Day weekend through Veterans Day. For the current schedule, see the National Park Service’s Operating Hours and Seasons web page for Fire Island National Seashore.

Side entrance to Old Mastic House

Side entrance to Old Mastic House

While the estate remained in the Floyd Family for over 250 years, it is now only a fraction of its original size. In 1881, John G. Floyd (grandson of William Floyd) had a stroke and was forced to sell off 2,200 acres to support his family. The remaining land was divided between his five sons and daughters after he died later that same year. John Floyd, Jr. received 687 acres, which included the area that is now part of Fire Island National Seashore.

John Sr. was a politician who traveled back and forth to New York, so while the estate was still run as a farm, the work was done by tenants who rented the land from the Floyds. When John Jr. took over, he had no interest in farming at all and used the estate only as a summer residence, making him the first Floyd not to live in the house full time. When he died in 1903, the property went to all three of his children jointly.

Of the three Floyd siblings, Rosalie had no interest in the estate and gave her portion to her brother William and sister Cornelia. William died in 1943 and had no children, so he left his half to Cornelia, making her the sole owner. She would go on to sell 72 acres before making an offer to donate the property to the National Park Service in 1965. Like her father, she did not live in the house and used it only for vacations, but being that her great, great grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence, she wanted the house preserved. In 1976, the bi-centennial birthday of the United States, the National Park Service officially took over the estate, which also included the furnishings, carriages, and other old farm equipment that was stored in the buildings. In the early 1980s, the estate was opened to the public, with tours of Old Mastic House being the main draw.

I spent three hours at the William Floyd Estate, which included the house tour—which though billed as an hour-long took an hour and a half—a half hour walking around the grounds to see the outbuildings, and a half hour at the Floyd Family cemetery. The other half hour was spent talking to staff members and various visitors. You might be able to cut out some of these activities, but I would still recommend setting aside at least two hours for your visit.

See the following web pages for more information on the William Floyd Estate:

Floyd Family Cemetery

Old Mastic House Tour

William Floyd Estate Grounds

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Last updated on May 30, 2020
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