Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Holly Arms Inn, Hewlett, NY

Long Island has always been known as a summer recreational area for New Yorkers. The 80-room Woodsburg Pavilion, built by Samuel Wood in 1870 quickly expanded to 250 rooms and attracted wealthy vacationers to the area for its proximity to ocean and bay swimming and sailing, the Rockaway Hunt Club, local yacht clubs and theatre. The success of the Pavilion encouraged the development of the Hewlett and Woodsburgh areas (it was not to become "Woodmere" until 1890).

In 1890, Frank G. Holly and his wife, Margaret, opened the Holly Arms Hotel. Located on the corner of Broadway and West Broadway in Hewlett the hotel, which burned down in 1926, attracted such notables as Theodore Roosevelt, singer/actress Lillian Russell, and Diamond Jim Brady.

Diamond Jim Brady

A 1911 article in The New York Times (August 28, page 1) details a raid on a gambling ring operating out of one of the Holly Arms' guest cottages. While over 300 formally-attired guests attended a dance at the Holly Arms, county detectives carted gambling paraphernalia, including two roulette tables and apparatus for playing craps and faro.

Frank Holly turned the Holly Arms into "one of the largest roadhouses in the country", according to an obituary in the Times of April 25, 1939. The article also states that Holly's influence caused the Pipe Line Boulevard to be named Sunrise Highway, a move which earned Holly the nickname "Sunrise". A self-proclaimed "Long Island ambassador of goodwill", Holly sailed to Florida on his boat Holly III each year and distributed literature advertising Long Island.

Further reading:
  • Silver, Karen. "Five Towns, the Hamptons of the 19th Century." Nassau Herald, July 23, 1992, p.6B

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