Built by the infamous Grosvenor Atterbury in 1917 for Lousine Peters and her husband, Harold Weekes, is Wereholme, a 28 room mansion on the South Shore of Long Island which was inspired by a French chateau of the same name.
Atterbury is known for his work with weekend houses for wealthy industrialists. Born in Detroit, MI in 1869, educated at Yale University, he would go to work in the offices of McKim, Mead & White. He is known as the mastermind of the well to do neighborhood of Forest Hills in Queens New York.
In the early part of the 20th century, the estate was part of a 300-acre "gentleman's farm", called "Windholme Farm", which was owned by Samuel and Adaline Peters. Mr. Peters was a coal broker who, with his partner Richard Williams, founded Williams and Peters coal brokers. In 1880, he purchased 300 hundred acres of waterfront property on the Great South Bay on Long Island’s Gold Coast. The estate had pigs, chickens, and cows, a private fishing camp, a stable of polo ponies, a kennel of top-notch Foxhounds and Gundogs, and spectacular formal gardens. He spent his summers with his family boating and fishing on the Great South Bay. Mr Peters died of heart disease at his home in Islip, NY, after a long illness, at the age of 67.
The property would soon be divided by South Bay Avenue and each side was given to one of their two children, Harry and Lousine. Harry took 200 acres to the east and Lousine the 70 acres to the west. Harry was very much like his father and inherited his father’s interests all the way from fine art to coal. He was also a partner in William and Peters. His kennels, the Windholme Kennel, played a starring role in Greyhounds.
Peters was an avid sportsman, with a passion for hunting, horses, and dogs. In 1925 he became Co-Master of Foxhounds of the Meadow Brooke Hunt in Long Island, New York, a position he held into the 1940s. He was a member of the Westminster Kennel Club and often served as an exhibitor and judge at dog shows. He gave a lecture “Sport in Art through the Ages,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in (circa 1937-1940), and began drafting a full length work on the same topic that was never published. In 1935 he authored Just Hunting, which provides personal and historical perspectives on the subject with illustrations by Betty Babcock. Peters was an active member of the Grolier Club, American Antiquarian Society, and New-York Historical Society. He also participated in home defense activities, serving as a member of the Fuel Administration during World War I, and as Civilian Defense Director for Suffolk County during World War II. Peters retired from the coal business in 1945. He died in 1948 at age 66, survived by his wife Natalie (née Wells), his daughter Natalie Peters Webster, and his son Harry T. Peters, Jr.
Source: Museum of the City of New York
In 1917, Atterbury built the estate, which would become known as the Scully Estate or Wereholme. Louisine Peters only daughter Hathaway, also known as”Happy”, would inherit the property .
Although married several times, she produced no heirs of her own and by 1960 became committed to donating her property to the National Audubon Society. She said it was her "wish that the property be used as a wildlife sanctuary and nature center."
Across the street Natalie Peters Webster, Happy's first cousin, who had inherited the property, decided to do the same as she also had no heirs. Together the properties formed the Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge. Natalie's husband, Charles Webster, would later found the Seatuck Environmental Association to conduct education and research on the property. Upon her death in the 1980’s, the named was changed to the "Scully Sanctuary" and became the home of the Living Oceans Campaign.
In June 2004, Suffolk County purchased the property and opened it to the public in April of 2010 as the Suffolk County Environmental Center.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Gonzalez is a photographer, blogger and historian currently residing in Newark, New Jersey.