Thanks to the Nature Conservancy, Mashomack Preserve had survived as one of the largest and most pristine nature preserves on Long Island. The preserve’s history dates back to the seventeenth century and was once used as a hunt and game club. Today the preserve is unofficially nicknamed the “Jewel of the Peconic”
Dating back to its originally settlers, Shelter Island was inhabited by the Manhansets, who were part of the Algonquin Nation. In 1653, the sachem of the tribe, Chief Pogatticut” deeded the entire island over to a Nathaniel Sylvester, who was a successful merchant from Barbados. Mr Sylvester used the island to establish a Quaker refuge.
In 1693, Giles Sylvester, Nathaniel’s son, had sold Mashomack to William Nicoll I, which would own the land for 230 years. The Nicolls family were also early settlers in the now Islip area.
What is now considered to be Mashomac, was actually originally called “Sachem’s Neck” and the term Mashomac was only referred to in regards to a small peninsula. Mashomac’s original term was “Where they go by water”
The first full-time resident of Mashomac was William Nicoll the second, who then deeded the land over to his son William III. The son used the land as a farm with his family. After some time the farmland was divided among their family, and by 1908 the families non-resident heirs had begun to sell portions off.
In 1925 Otto Kahn, a wealthy German financier who also built Oheka Castle, had purchased the Nicoll families remaining land, as well as the already sold off portions. Kahn’s plan was to develop most of Mashomac, but was stopped when the Stock Market Crashed in 1929.
by 1934, Gerard real estate had purchased Mashomack from Otto Kahn’s estate, and had leased the property out to several fish and game clubs. The most notorious club was the “Mashomack Fish and Game Club”, which mostly consisted of wealthy Long Islanders and New York City residents. The member’s would hunt pheasant, duck and deer, along with the occasional fox hunt. During this club’s lease, the two fields in the center were converted over to skeet shooting ranges as well as tennis courts.
The property’s Manor House was used as a Lodge that served French cuisine.
While the property was occupied by the Mashomack the members and owner’s had planned on eventually turning it into an exclusive housing development that gave access to a golf course, and a marina. While the funds were secured, the plan had eventually fallen through in 1979.
After the Mashomack Fish and Game Club’s plan to develop the land fell through, the Nature Conservancy had expressed interest in preserving the land due to its population of Osprey, as well as its vast array of rare plants. Eventually in 1979, The Gerard family came to an agreement with the Nature Conservancy, and the conservancy had purchased the land for $10.6 million. Today the preserve is still run by the Nature Conservancy and is open to the general public.