32 Acres Protected in 2015
Location: Mowbray Lane, Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Parking: Available on site

Perched above the historic hamlet of Cold Spring Harbor, this stunning 32-acre preserve at one time was being considered for development into thirteen house lots. Mature hardwood forest, which comprises over 60 percent of the preserve, protects air quality and provides erosion control throughout its steep ravines. Native trumpet honeysuckle was planted in 2018 to replace wisteria at the preserve’s trellis, and an assortment of highbush blueberry bushes are laden with delectable fruit in summer. A pollinator garden that attracts a variety of indigenous insects, a historic yew round and specimen trees round out the formal garden while woodland trails allow visitors to explore the forests on site. Take a stroll and you might catch a glimpse of some of the animals that live there like foxes and state-protected Box Turtles.

Wawapek was once part of a 600-plus acre estate owned by the de Forest family that empassed the Wawapek Farm. In 2006, the heirs of Robert Weeks de Forest, a lawyer and philanthropist, expressed interest in having part of the property preserved. In partnership with the Town of Huntington, Suffolk County, New York State, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy and 358 private donors, the Land Alliance was able to acquire and permanently protect this environmentally significant property in 2015. This was the first time in Suffolk County that a private organization shared title with the county.

Here’s what you will also find at Wawapek:

Wawapek Updates

Have you visited Wawapek lately?  If not, there are wonderful new things to see like:

  • the pollinator gardens at the entrance
  • native trees and shrubs along the driveway
  • the recently renovated greenhouse
  • the adjoining Ralf Lange Garden
  • Maintaining the substantial lawn and managing invasive species.
  • Three new interpretive signs will be installed detailing the property’s rich history, the beautiful woodland overlooking the harbor and the new habitat restoration

These improvements would not have been possible without you – our members and friends.

Historic Greenhouse Restored

Standing tall within Wawapek is a historic greenhouse.  Thought to have been built in the early 1900s, the coal-operated greenhouse was once part of a large agricultural network at the de Forest Family’s Wawapek Farm. The owner of the property at the time, Mr. Robert Weeks de Forest, commissioned the famed greenhouse designer Hitchings & Co (later known as the Lord & Burnham Company and then the Burnham-Pierson-Sefton Corporation) to install the impressive structure.

Over time the greenhouse had fallen prey to weather and age – glass had fallen from the ceiling, the wooden planting beds rotted away, paint had faded with time and weeds and trees began to grow through the floor. Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Gerry Charitable Trust, we began revitalizing the greenhouse. With the help of a local contractor, we carefully removed the broken glass, pulled the weeds, disposed of the rotten wood and scraped off the old paint. We then cleaned the good pieces of glass, repainted the greenhouse roof in white (as it had originally been) and repaired the broken wood window frames. Finally, we installed new cedar planting beds and gave the greenhouse several power washes to complete phase of restoration. The difference is amazing, as evidenced in these photos.

Read more in our 2022 Fall Conservation News newsletter.

Mowbray Lane Entrance Update

When you visit Wawapek, you will notice a much-improved entrance. A split rail fence was installed along Mowbray Lane (which was dotted with beautiful daffodils.  With the help of funding from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and a generous neighbor, we installed pollinator gardens on both sides of the driveway, along with new native red cedars and white pines.

Read more about this project in our 2022 Spring Conservation News newsletter.

All Posts

Conservation NewsWawapek Preserve

  • Wawapek Greenhouse Propogation

    Wawapek Greenhouse Restoration and Native Seed Propagation

    Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Gerry Charitable Trust, the restoration of the Wawapek greenhouse began last year. This fall, with the help of our volunteers, we’ve been collecting native wildflower and grass seeds from our preserves to propagate in the greenhouse.

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  • Great Things are Happening at Wawapek!

    Wawapek is alive with the sights and sounds of summer! The trees are in full leaf, the pollinator gardens are a buzz and the blueberry patch is heavy with fruit. As we enter a new season at this much-loved preserve, we’d like to give you some quick updates about exciting things to come.

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  • Wawapek

    Wawapek Preserve Expanded

    The Land Alliance is pleased to announced that we signed a contract to purchase the Williams Estate – a three-acre property immediately to the north of Wawapek. This property which will provide an important expansion opportunity along the entire northerly boundary of the preserve.

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  • DeForest Williams Property Opened as Wawapek Preserve

    In partnership with the Town of Huntington, Suffolk County, New York State, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy and 358 private donors we were able to acquire and permanently protect this environmentally significant property on March 10, 2015.

    Continue reading

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Your tax-deductible donation will help us maintain and improve the preserve,
guaranteeing its accessibility for our community and the wildlife that joins us there.