A historic donation of Manor of St. George

Brookhaven town officials vote to accept a dying wish

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Brookhaven officials voted to accept the donation of the historic American Revolutionary War-era Manor of St. George, in Shirley, along with its $1.6 million trust fund, at the town board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 14. Previous owner Eugenia Smith’s wish to leave her inherited property to the town originally failed to come to fruition, but the family of her attorney, George Furman Sr., continued to pursue Smith’s aspiration.

“She hoped they would take it because she wanted it to be a museum and also for people to be able to come there and learn about the history of the family and the history of Long Island,” said Judith Furman, wife of the late George Furman.

After Smith died in 1955, Furman said, George Furman Sr. set up a testamentary trust. Upon entering the home to begin the restoration of the land and the building, Smith’s abundant historical furnishings, documents, and many artifacts of her family and the history of their land, some dating back before the war, were found.

“My husband, George Sr.’s son, became a trustee with his father. And then as George Sr. got very, very ill, I became one of the trustees as well,” Furman explained. “And so, since that time, we’ve tried to follow the wheel as best we can. My husband was very adamant about doing what [Smith] wanted done.”

George Furman Jr., his wife said, was happily aware before he died that the town was likely to accept the land this time around. Furman added that the family feels confident that the town will take great care of the property and help keep its history alive amongst the public.

At a February town work session, town supervisor Ed Romaine explained to his colleagues that this land is a mark of the one major battle fought in Brookhaven Town, where Col. Tallmadge rode across the island and battled the British for St. George, adding that the property sits on a vista that overlooks the Carmans River as it flows into the Great South Bay.

As the property is being donated at no expense to the town along with the trust, the town will be able to keep the current maintenance workers, and maintain and open the facility to the general public.

“Every time we remember the past, we remind ourselves of our roots. When we look back with a clear vision and understanding of what went before, we have a much clearer vision of what should come in the future,” said Romaine. “So, we are going to reward ourselves and future generations by preserving the Manor of St. George.”

“The town board passed a resolution authorizing the town to accept the property and the trust account. This 122 acres of local history is part of our national history, and I’m proud to be part of ensuring that it will remain open and available to the public for future generations,” said councilman Dan Panico. “While we have not closed just yet, we intend on closing in the coming weeks—which will be a momentous occasion.”

As the property is being donated at no expense to the town along with the trust, the town will be able to keep the current maintenance workers, and maintain and open the facility to the general public.

ABOUT THE MANOR

St. George’s Manor is a multi-acre homestead originally purchased by William Tangier Smith in the 17th century. It is the site of a large American-won battle of the American Revolution and the largest gathering of the British Navy’s fleet. The donation will include the home, surrounding outbuildings, and a massive collection of artifacts.