A Very Big Deal

Seminary of the Immaculate Conception

The 216-acre Seminary of the Immaculate Conception has been a part of Lloyd Harbor history for centuries. We are very pleased to announce that this incredible natural area filled with mature forest, wetlands and meadows will become a permanent part of our community’s future.

Today, thanks to the hard work, determination and generosity of many, a conservation future will be ensured for this local treasure. A partnership among the Seminary, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Village of Lloyd Harbor will permanently protect 200 acres of this extraordinary place for conservation. The transaction closing is expected in early 2024.

New York State Parks will purchase 180 acres to be used as a passive preserve, perfect for walkers and birders and all who enjoy the extraordinary benefits of nature. The Village of Lloyd Harbor will purchase 20 acres which contains the Olmsted amphitheater and barn. The Seminary will retain 16 acres for its use as a retreat and conference center.

Like most transactions of this size, a deal has been in the making for years. In late 2018, the Land Alliance was pleased to be invited by the Seminary Board to explore a transaction for conservation purposes. At that time, the objective was to protect the property and raise funds to make improvements to the Seminary building. The Land Alliance began by assisting Seminary leaders with mapping the land area, initiating an appraisal to better understand the value of the property and identifying potential conservation funders. Impressively the Town, County, State and Village and several Land Alliance supporters stepped up to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime deal! Then the pandemic hit, the world slowed down and the potential for a transaction became complicated.

This historic investment by New York State is the largest open space acquisition ever made on Long Island. 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, Open Space and Park Fund Advisory Committee. Its substantial forest and 40+ acres of open fields are like none other left in our North Shore community.

In its former life, the estate was developed 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 William Eyre-designed home at what was then called Rosemary Farm. Mrs. Conklin had been involved in the theater in NYC and wanted to create the perfect place for entertaining their friends, who were leading actors, conductors and singers of the day. The result featured an enchanting Olmsted designed open-air theater.

Mary died in 1924 and Bishop Thomas E. Molloy, with the support of parishioners, purchased the then 200–acre Rosemary Farm. To accommodate the growing number of men seeking priesthood, the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception was built and formally opened on September 28, 1930.

For several decades the Seminary offered master’s degrees and admitted lay students not preparing for ordination. In September 2012, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn joined forces to consolidate their educational efforts into a single program at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. Since the relocation of the priestly formation program to Yonkers, the Seminary has taken on the role of a retreat house providing opportunities for spiritual enrichment for thousands of New Yorkers, a service they intend to continue for years to come.

We couldn’t be more excited about this deal and are so grateful to all who, along the way, played a part in such an optimal outcome. Special thanks to the Seminary for choosing conservation and to New York State, Suffolk County, the Town of Huntington and the Village of Lloyd Harbor for being willing to do everything they could to protect this iconic property. In the end, thanks to the success of Governor Hochul’s 2022 NYS Environmental Bond Act, the State had the funds to acquire the bulk of the property, leaving monies for the County and Town to invest in other open space projects.

We couldn’t have asked for a better conservation solution. And, once again, we are proud to be a part of such a generous community who prioritizes nature and the future health of our world.