Historic Lindenmere is reborn
The Center Moriches hamlet was once a playground for the rich and famous that gravitated to the seaside community for its waterfront hotels and luxurious estates. Most of these impressive structures are long since gone, having been victims of natural disasters, commercial development or sheer neglect. Still standing, however, is a 14-room, 17-bathroom Dutch colonial revival overlooking Moriches Bay, just off Sedgemere Avenue, that is currently undergoing a major revival thanks to a savvy real estate professional.
Sunny Meadow, more commonly known as The Lindenmere, located on Private Road in Center Moriches, was purchased by Florida real estate entrepreneur Janet Davis in May 2015. Since then, the Detroit, Michigan, native has been busy restoring the historic landmark to its original grandeur, and has spared no expense in doing so.
With a keen eye for architecture and interior design, Davis has been intimately involved in the multimillion-dollar renovation at The Lindenmere, which has included the complete replacement of the roof, the installation of new windows, rewiring, refurbishing the original oak floors, replacing walkways and much more. She has enthusiastically embraced each task, she says, because of her desire to return the turn-of-the century dwelling back to its original glory.
“It’s a historical landmark, and I feel that I have an obligation to the citizens of Center Moriches to preserve it as a landmark,” said Davis. She added that she was immediately attracted to The Lindenmere when she first viewed it in winter of 2015. Davis said she especially appreciated the historic “bones” of the house, as well as the breathtaking water views.
“I thought...I could live here. It felt right and I felt comfortable right away,” Davis recalled.
Davis has been in the process of redecorating every room in anticipation of opening The Lindenmere as a bed-and- breakfast, a tribute to its days as a grand hotel. She has furnished the house with many antiques and pieces of artwork from her own personal collection, appointing each guest room with a different theme. Featured rooms include the White Room, intended as the bridal suite, which is appropriately decked out with furniture and accessories in various shades of white. There is also a Family Suite, complete with a separate children’s room and the Royal Guest Room that boasts extra-large, 24-karat-gold and black onyx bathroom fixtures.
Longtime Center Moriches resident Paul Reed was ecstatic when he learned of the rebirth of The Lindenmere, a place where he spent many years as a child and teenager, as his grandparents, Otto and Marie Amende, purchased the home in 1946. Reed has become a historical expert on The Lindenmere, and has an impressive collection of photos, newspaper articles and other archival material.
“This was the Gold Coast of Center Moriches. It was the Roaring 20s, with speakeasies, sailing parties – it was even better than ‘The Great Gatsby,’ Reed explained, citing the influential people that were in the same social circle as longtime owners, the Leslie Family. New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker was one such friend, who gifted the family a number of Linden trees, which is how the estate was named, Reed said.
According to Reed, the Lindenmere was constructed sometime between 1906-1908 for the Keily Family, who owned The Lindenmere until 1916. Through Reed’s research, he learned that one of the Keily daughters married Warren Leslie, and they later inherited the estate.
The infamous Hurricane of ’38 that tore through Long Island caused significant damage at the waterfront homestead, ripping it from its foundation, Reed said. His grandparents eventually purchased the property in 1946, for approximately $12,000, with the intention of operating it as a hotel. Before opening its doors to the public in 1949, The Lindenmere served as housing for scientists from around the world who were working at Brookhaven National Laboratory in nearby Upton.
During its heyday as a hotel, The Lindenmere was a venue for countless weddings, family vacations, sailing regattas, and the like. Reed compared it to the family resorts that were popular in the Catskills at the time, noting that many guests returned every summer, including Hershel Bramson, the arts editor for Look Magazine in New York City. Reed’s parents, Susie and Arthur Reed, bought The Lindenmere in 1962, and continued to operate it as a hotel, where Reed worked as a waiter, bartender, and eventually, assistant manager.
“It was great,” Reed said of growing up at The Lindenmere. “Every two weeks, I had new friends.” Sadly, though, the glory days gave way to challenging times, as vacationers sought different amenities, such as air conditioners and phones in every room. “So many things put us out of business,” Reed remembered.
His parents sold the estate in 1972, and over the next decade, Reed said there were many unsuccessful business ventures until Ferdinand Marcos, president of the Philippines, and his wife, Imelda, purchased the house in 1981. They owned it until 1987, Reed said. Over the years, it was again used for a bed-and-breakfast, a venue for weddings and most recently, a private summer residence.
Davis is committed to reviving The Lindenmere as not only a bed-and-breakfast, but also as a private social club, that she has dubbed The Sunset Club. She said that different membership levels are available, from daily passes to annual memberships. Depending on the package, amenities could include gourmet selections and beverages from Imelda’s Poolhouse Grille, pool privileges and discounts to rooms at the bed-and-breakfast.
Bert Seides, president of Moriches Bay Historical Society, applauded Davis’s efforts to restore the house and its grounds. “I think it’s needed and necessary, and will help to give our community a sense of place, as it was once part of the Moriches Bay resort area,” Seides said.
Brookhaven Councilman Dan Panico, who put forth the resolution to declare The Lindenmere as an official historic landmark, said, “The Lindenmere is a shining example of some of the rich history of the Moriches Bay area; a history and way of life that is appreciated by those who choose to make it their home. The landmark status and restoration are pages in the book of history of our area with many more good chapters to come.”
“Janet has taken on the daunting task of transforming the historic Lindenmere Estate back to its former glory as a lovely B & B on the Moriches Bay,” said Suzanne McKeon, president of the Downtown Beautification Organization, a member of the Town of Brookhaven Historic Advisory Board and interior designer. “Touring the home, I noted the careful, detailed attention given to each of the beautiful rooms at The Lindenmere. Her taste is simply exquisite. What a wonderful and positive addition the new Lindenmere B & B is to our town.”
Davis welcomes residents to stop for a tour, but encourages them to call in advance. For more information about the bed-and-breakfast, or the Sunset Club, call 909-8835, or visit thelindenmere.com.
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