West Islip, NY 11795
West Islip, NY 11795
Flat, sandy earth and the salty smell of the Atlantic ocean coming inland accompanied by gentle breezes from the Great South Bay characterize West Islip, a hamlet within the Town of Islip that occupies approximately 4.4 square miles of space within Suffolk County and has a population of 28,829 (Jan 1999).
When father and son Thomas and Richard Willetts bought patents to the land in 1695, then inhabited by the Secatogue (meaning "black or dark lands" ) Indians, the main occupations practiced there were fishing, farming, and lumbering. With the arrival of the white man, new roads were created that paved over many Indian pathways. An example of this is the construction of Udall Road in West Islip; the route, formally a main trail, marked the first road in Suffolk County to extend north and south.
Another credit to West Islip’s history is the hostelry called La Grange Inn, which operates today as a restaurant and catering hall at its original location on the corner of Montauk Highway and Higbie Lane. Named after General Lafayette’s famous home in France, business began there shortly after the American Revolution, and the site, licensed in 1750, served as a way station between Jamaica, Queens and Patchogue. General George Washington is said to have slept at La Grange prior to his presidency.
West Islip is also home to Conklin’s Point. Sold in 1779 by Richard Willetts to Colonel Platt Conklin, this is the location where twin Captree Bridges link West Islip to Captree Island and where two ships, theThames and the Fair Helen sunk; their keels are still embedded in the sand.
Yet another first for West Islip, and a fun fact worth noting, is that West Islip High School, built in 1957, contained the first swimming pool constructed in a school in all of Suffolk County. Graduates of WIHS include Long Island politicians, Congressmen Rick Lazio (1976) and Thomas Downey (1966). Downey was a member of the House of Representatives until Lazio won his seat in 1992.