Muttontown Preserve

Nassau County's Largest Nature Preserve

 The Muttontown Preserve consists of over 568 acres of flowering meadows, open grass fields and forest scattered with historical ruins and freshwater lakes. Hosting a wide range of unique wildlife and ecology in an area that has been undeveloped since the glacial formation of Long Island. The area's historical landmarks are veiled in mystery by the thick vines and forested overgrowth reclaiming the land.

 

The Nassau County Soil & Water Conservation District is located at Nassau Hall, South of Muttontown Road. The grounds at Nassau Hall have one of the largest collections of pine trees in Long Island, NY. 

 

Read more about the rich history and unique ecology of this area below:

Photo of overgrown trees

Seeking Volunteers

Nassau SWCD logo

Interested in protecting your local resources? Looking for a chance to give back to your community?

 

The Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District is currently seeking volunteers to help implement various environmental projects. No experience required. Weekend opportunities available.

Vernal Pools

The Muttontown Preserve is heavily influenced by early glacial activity that formed the topography of present day Long Island. Rocky soils, uneven and glacially carved depressions create spaces for rainwater and melting snow to collect. 

Eastern Spotted Salamander

Watch out for native species like the Eastern Spotted Salamander (click images to enlarge)

Vernal pool at Muttontown Preserve in Nassau County

Vernal pool at Muttontown Preserve in Nassau County

Vernal Pools educational poster
Long Island Native and Invasive Species

Long Island is home to many types of plants and animals all competing for food and space to grow. Different species are classified into different types depending on their impact on the environment. 

 

Native Species are species that once established, thrive in the environment they are naturally adapted to. 

 

Invasive Species are capable of rapid spread into relativly undisturbed natural communities. Once established invasive species begin outcompeting native plants, damaging soil and causing adverse ecological impacts. 

Common Invasive Flora

 

Burning Bush  Euonymus alatus

Devils Walking stick  Aralia spinosa

Chinese Wisteria  Wisteria sinensis

Tree of Heaven  Ailanthus altissima

Japanese barberry  Berberis thunbergii

Mile-a-Minute  Persicaria perfoliata

Multiflora Rose  Rosa multiflora

Porcelain Berry  Ampelopsis brevipedunclata

Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica

Autumn Olive Elaeaganus umbellata Thunb

Canada Thistle Cirsium arvense

English Ivy Hedera spp.

Japanese Stiltgrass Microstegium vimineum

Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata

Japanese Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica

Kudzu Pueraria montana var. lobata

Oriental Bittersweet Celastrus orbicultas Thunb.

Black Swallow-wort Cynanchum nigrum

Meet the Wildlife info poster
Don't Feed the Wildlife info poster
Impacts of feeding wildlife

During your time in the preserve, look for the Piebald Whitetail Deer! 

The Muttontown Preserve is home to many hidden treasures, its most rare being the piebald whitetail deer. The piebald condition comes from an inherited recessive genetic trait that both parents must carry to have a chance at having an albino or piebald offspring. Research states that your chances of seeing an albino in the wild are about "one in 30,000" and only less than 2% of whitetails are piebald. Some areas in the northeast have high concentrations on a local level, one example being Deer Haven Park located at the heart of the Finger Lakes region in Seneca County, NY. Due to their rarity, Piebald and Albino deer are protected in some states and in many cultures these deer are viewed as embodiments of spirits and are considered bad luck to hunt. If you are fortunate enough to see a piebald or albino deer in the wild count yourself lucky, they are a rare and beautiful sight.

Wildlife

Click on the images below to enlarge

Muttontown Preserve History

 

Muttontown Preserve is 568 acres of land and is the largest preserve owned by Nassau County. It was formerly four different estates, the Moore Estate, Hudson Estate, Winthrop Estate and Hammand vacation home.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Moore had their estate built in the 1920s. Mr. Moore named the estate Chelsea, referencing the section of New York City where his family lived for many generations. Mr. Moore died in 1938. His wife, Alexandra donated the land to Nassau County in 1966 to start a preserve. The nature center was built in 1970. When Mrs. Moore died in 1983, Nassau County acquired all of the Chelsea Estate.

 

Charles Hudson, a Wall Street mogul and steel tycoon, owned 240 acres of the Knollwood Estate which has been built in 1907. He died in 1921 and his estate went through several owners until 1951 when King Zog of Albania purchased the property. King Zog wanted to establish a kingdom for himself and fellow exiled countrymen but his plan failed and they never lived at Knollwood. The servants moved away and the house became vacant, leaving it and its rumored hidden treasures to be vandalized. In 1955, Landsdell Christie bought Knolwood in 1955 and demolished the vandalized home. In 1968, the county purchased the property. The only remaining pieces of the Hudson Estate are gazebos, a concrete walled garden and the main gate at the corner of Route 106 and Muttontown Road.

 

Mr. Cristie also purchased the Winthrop Estate. Bronson Winthrop purchased the John Duyea Farm in 1903 and built his mansion on the property, now known as Nassau Hall. Christie created a pinetum between 1956-1960 but sold his property to Nassau county in 1968.

 

Earlier, Captain Paul Hammond purchased land from Mr. Winthrop. This 20 acre section of Muttontown south was part of the Duryea Farm. It included a house build during revolutionary times known as the "Barn swallow". Captain Hammond's family used this as a vacation home until 1974. At that time, Nassau County acquired "Barnswallow" from Mrs. Hammond.

 

After acquiring the land, Nassau County developed its largest preserve. In 2006, Long Island Press named the Muttontown Preserve "Best Nature Walk" on Long Island.

Nassau Hall

 

Delano & Aldrich, the prominent architect of the ‘20s made his first commission in this area. His first commission is the Christie House on Muttontown Rd whose exterior wall was modeled after Mount Vernon, the home of our first president, George Washington. This mansion is now called Nassau Hall owned by Nassau County. Nassau Hall was known originally as the Egerton L. Winthrop Jr. House or Muttontown Meadows. The estate was purchased by Lansdell Christie in 1950 and hence called the Christie House. His widow, Helen Christie sold the house and its 183 acres to Nassau County in 1969. It is now the home of Nassau Parks Conservancy, and the Nassau County Soil & Water Conservation District

Nassau Hall - Muttontown Preserve

Town of Muttontown

Muttontown is an incorporated village in the Town of Oyster Bay located in Nassau County, New York. The 3852.8-acre town is just north of Jericho and to the south of Oyster Bay. The towns history includes many pastures of sheep farms. As far back as the 1600s, sheep were raised for the production of their meat and wool. The meat from sheep, or mutton, is how the town became Muttontown sometime after 1750. The Muttontown Village Hall, and its barn-style building is located on Village Hall Drive. Many wealthy families moved into the area during the 1900s, some of their notable estates have been preserved, including the following:

  • Christie House - originally built for Egerton L. Winthrop Jr. but purchased by Lansdell Christie in 1950

  • Chelsea Mansion - built in 1924 for Benjamin Moore, who became the town's mayor from 1931-1938

  • Knollwood Mansion - built in 1906 and sold in 1951 to King Zog of Albania