The Magdalena and Elaine Smith Cottage
14 Bay Street
This classic Bayside Cottage is now named for Magdalena and her daughter Elaine Smith, descendants of Henry W. Brown and Angelia (Angie) Chick Brown of Newburgh, Maine. Originally purchased from Annie E. Wales for $400 (a large sum of money in the 1880s), on December 30, 1889 the property was deeded to Angelia and remained in the family until June 26, 2008.
The basic structure and layout of the cottage remain original. Early on, the cottage was lifted, windows installed on the south side and porches added. The bathroom probably dates to the early 20th century. We have been told that the “more grand than usual Bayside staircase” was substituted in 1953 because Magdalena’s father, Leon Brown, did not want her walking up the old stairs when she was pregnant with Elaine. Since 2008 a foundation has been placed, the electrical and heating systems upgraded and a shower added.
In August, 1880 the Sea Breeze published a map showing Bay View Square beginning just the south of Maple St. and including the cottages on Bay St. (If These Cottages Could Talk, p.280)
Old clippings from The Republican Journal are of interest:
•May, 1889. “The Browns arrived from Newburgh and will open the restaurant in June.”
•July, 1889. “Improved iceman… Mr. Brown rattles up to Little River and gets lots of bits broken in shape to use for restaurant but shares extras with other Baysiders.”
•August, 1890 through July, 1893 items indicate the cottage’s continued use as a restaurant.
•May, 1894. “H. W. Brown and wife, now from Somerville, Mass., have arrived and will carry on their bakery and restaurant.
•September, 1894. Item noted that the restaurant was still open.
•July, 1896. Item remarked on the pleasant views and porches afforded by the restaurant.
•1898. Item reported that H. W. Brown was chosen as special policeman by town appointment.
•1899. Item once again noted that H. W. Brown once again had opened the “restaurant and fruit store [that] caters to rusticators”.
In the early 1900s Henry and Angie were known to have run a tea house and confectionary in the cottage. Magdalena Brown Smith did not remember just how long her grandparents continued to use the cottage as a business as well as a summer residence.
Magdalena, born December 31, 1915, recounted the story of having been brought by steamer from Boston in 1916 by her mother, Edith Brown. Magdalena was just 6 months old when she arrived in Bayside 100 years ago, the year that Bayside was incorporated as the Northport Village Corporation.
Along with her younger brother, Leon, Magdalena spent many childhood summers at the H. W. Brown cottage. Her father, Leon Brown was a well-known actor in New York City. He often travelled with theatre groups, but whenever free would come to Bayside to stay with his family.
As an adult the summer tradition was continued by Magdalena, now with her daughter, Elaine. They would arrive by train or car from their East Side New York City brownstone, and in the 1990s would have as many as 13 cats in tow. Many tales abound about their house parties (we especially remember the Viking party when some guests arrived by sea on boats and in costume, and the Stalag 17 party, complete with prison gates and lights). They spent countless evenings with smaller groups of friends drinking martinis and enjoying delicious dinners.
Magdalena and Elaine were in every sense of the word our very close neighbors. They were fixtures of the Bayside community and continue to be missed by many today.
When Magdalena developed cancer in the spring of 1998 her only wish was to get to Bayside. Elaine followed her a decade later in August of 2009. Their ashes are buried a few miles from Bayside in the Northport Cemetery.
Martha and Sidney Block
(We gratefully acknowledge the help of Beverly Crofoot and Amos Kimball in the preparation of this essay.)