Protecting a Treasured Landscape: Seminary of the Immaculate Conception

The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception is a beautiful and environmentally significant 200+- acre property in Lloyd Harbor. The Land Alliance, working with the Seminary’s Board, the Trust for Public Land, the Village of Lloyd Harbor, the Town of Huntington and New York State (and we hope others who will join later), has begun laying the groundwork for a conservation transaction that would protect the beautiful forests, fields and wetlands contained within the property. The Seminary is listed as a priority project in the New York State Open Space Plan and the Suffolk County Open Space Plan. It also was ranked #1 in priority by the Town of Huntington’s Environment and Open Space & Park Fund Review Advisory Committee. Its 150-acre forest and 40+ acres of open fields are like none other left in our North Shore community.

This former estate was owned by Roland Ray Conklin, a descendant of John Conklin (who settled Huntington c. 1640). In 1913, Conklin and his wife Mary MacFadden built their grand home at Rosemary Farm, which was designed by William Eyre. Mary had been an opera singer and wanted to create the perfect place for entertaining their friends, who were leading actors, conductors and singers of the day. The estate grounds also included an Olmsted designed open-air-theater. In 1917, Conklin held the National Red Cross Pageant at the theater, which raised $50K and was considered among the most successful war benefits ever. The pageant consisted of episodes from the history of each of the Allied nations. The presentation of the case of each Ally before the bar of Truth, Justice, and Liberty was organized by actors and actresses of the American stage as their contribution to the American Red Cross. While the silent film is presumed lost, the cast included John, Lionel and Ethel Barrymore and Douglas Wood.

In the 1920’s it became apparent that St. John’s Seminary in Brooklyn could no longer train all the Roman Catholic priests needed for parishes in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Brooklyn and Queens. Bishop Thomas E. Malloy decided that a new seminary should be built.

In 1924, after Mary’s death, the Diocese of Brooklyn (which at that time served all Long Island) purchased Rosemary Farm. In 1930, amid the lush meadows and thick stands of trees, the Seminary was constructed. The Seminary took the form of a four-story, 320-room Mediterranean-style edifice filled with beautifully adorned chapels as well as a library, classrooms and accommodations for its students.

For about 80 years, the Seminary served as the home and educational center of Seminarians pursuing their vocation to the priesthood. In 2012, the Diocese of Rockville Centre joined with the Archdiocese of New York and the Brooklyn Diocese to consolidate the location of priestly formation into one location, St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. The Seminary, which has been governed by its own Board of Governors, took on its new mission of service to the Catholic Church and to the community. Now, the major retreat house for the Metropolitan area, it also is the scene of formation for the deacons of the diocese, for priestly conferences, interreligious meetings, courses for a master’s degree in theology and for the spiritual and social activities of the Friends of the Seminary.

With funds raised from a conservation transaction, the Seminary Board intends to make repairs to the facility and continue its mission to provide theological education and formation through retreats and academic and pastoral conferences.

The is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We must all dig deep and make every effort possible to ensure the permanent protection of this extraordinary, historically important property!