Lynwood Gardens

In 1841, Robert Pagan, a Scottish emigrant, purchased 78 acres from Dutch Broadway to Merrick Road. He either bought an existing house or built one. As a farmer, he grew buckwheat, rye, oats, corn, and potatoes. By 1854, Pagan had sold 63 acres and opened a general store. His wife, Ellen, a devout Methodist, often hosted religious services in their home. 

After Robert Pagan’s death in 1870, his property fell into third party hands. In 1872, William Fletcher, Pagan's son-in-law, bought back most of his late father-in-law’s property and built a summer "cottage" on, or near, the old Pagan homestead. That house still stands—143 Hendrickson Avenue, now known as the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration. 

In 1923, the Fairchilds, related to the Pagans through marriage, rented the Fletcher cottage. In 1929, Fairchild Publications, the family business, purchased the house and remaining 10 acres. Fairchild Publications was the publisher of garment-industry trade journals. “Women’s Wear Daily” (“WWD”), their most renown publication, was referred to as the “bible of fashion.” In 1948, a year after Emil Fairchild's passing, the house and acreage were sold to Lynwood Housing Corp. (Lynwood Housing), a construction company owned by Philip Lynn and Ian Woodner. Up until the time of the sale, the land was actively farmed.

Lynwood Housing and Lynwood Gardens

Lynwood Housing built Lynwood Gardens, a small community of 49 homes on the acreage to the north and west of the house. The homes situated on the southern portion of the land, fronting Hendrickson Avenue, and those that abut their backyards, reside in the Incorporated Village of Valley Stream. The rest of the community—to its north, lies in the unincorporated section of Valley Stream. The Fairchild cottage was used as a construction office and storage site. 137 Hendrickson Avenue, the house to its east, became the model home. The homes were priced from $12,490 to $19,750.

Alywn Cassens Jr., A.I.A.

Alywn Cassens Jr., the architect, built many homes, municipal buildings, and firehouses in Valley Stream during that era. Brooklyn-born Cassens is considered an eminent designer of small mid-century ranch houses on Long Island. His work is important enough to be included in modern-day architecture school curriculums. His blueprints have been reproduced in design magazines and scholarly articles for architects, students, and historians.

A 1949 article boasts the home's amenities:

"A model house of unusual design is being displayed by the Lynwood Housing Corporation in its project at Lynwood Estates, Hendrickson Avenue and Henry Street, Valley Stream. The living room has a "skyline" ceiling sweeping down to a 15-foot strip of concealed indirect fluorescent lighting. Functional separation of areas is provided by glass partitions. All rooms open on a paneled center hall and the bedrooms have walls partially finished with wood paneling." (“NYT,” 06/26/49) 

From 1947 through 1966, Philip Lynn built 13 communities and one shopping center on Long Island: seven in Valley Stream, two in North Woodmere, and one each in Bethpage, Inwood, Lido Beach, and Huntington. He was only with his partner Ian Woodner for the first two Valley Stream projects. After that, they went their separate ways; by 1954, Lynwood Housing became Valley Stream Terrace Corp. 

Why were there only 49 homes built in Lynwood Gardens?

When Philip Lynn completed construction in Valley Stream and North Woodmere, the plan was to knock down 143 Hendrickson Avenue (since the office and storage site were no longer needed) and build the final Lynwood Gardens home. When Lynn's construction company defaulted on its mortgage in 1977, however, the Village of Valley Stream saved the house by purchasing it for $43,000 and leasing it to the Valley Stream Historical Society. The building is listed on the National and NYS Register of Historic Places. In 1992, it was restored and opened as a museum and as the Society's headquarters.

A vault in the cellar

When the historical society took over the house, every nook and cranny was explored. In the basement, on the east side of the house, below the Fairchild Room (a Victorian parlor), a secret room was discovered! The room opened to an anteroom, which led to another door—the entrance to a vault! Both the inner and outer doors, which once sported an array of locks, are sheathed in steel, as are the ceiling and walls. A push-button alarm at the head of the stairs was installed to protect this room (a similar alarm system on a third-floor room was installed to protect the contents of that room.) The alarms were the handiwork of Lynwood Housing.

Lipman Zeitlen and Isidore Silverman built Lynwood Gardens

Philip Lynn (aka Lipman Zeitlen), a Moscow-born emigrant, and Ian Woodner (aka Isidore Silverman), were the owners of Lynwood Housing (they combined the first syllables of the ethnically neutral surnames they appropriated). Around the time Lynwood Gardens was constructed, Woodner also built Fenmore Apartments in North Valley Stream (aka Valley Park Estates), a FHA-backed housing project. Shortly thereafter, Woodner became embroiled in a Federal income-tax evasion scheme relating to FHA financial irregularities. A high-profile divorce from his actress wife soon followed, involving alimony litigation—he was accused of relocating over $1,000,000 in assets. Woodner was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in Federal prison. The apartment complex was sold to Harry Helmsley, the real estate billionaire, who once owned the Empire State Building and many prestigious NYC hotels. Fast-forward to the 1970s: Woodner, an architect and artist by training (he studied in Paris), morphed into a fine art collector. In 1990, he established the Ian Woodner Family Collection, gifting the Museum of Modern Art nearly 100 works of art. 

A secure location for money and artwork is the most plausible explanation for the vault, although we have no documentation confirming this belief.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes

Philip Lynn’s story is no less dramatic. In 1940, the Moscow-born refugee was barely keeping one step ahead of the Nazis. Lynn made it as far as the Portuguese consulate in France, along with thousands of others. Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul, was issued the following decree: To deny safe haven to refugees, explicitly Jews and Russians.” Sousa Mendes defied his orders and risked his life by issuing visas to everyone! For his actions, he was stripped of his diplomatic position and forbidden from earning a living. He died destitute. “I would rather stand with God against Man than with Man against God,” he declared.

1948 - Lynwood Estates Map

1926 Nassau County aerial 

1950 Nassau County aerial

Sept/Oct - DESIGN - The Search for Aesthetic Solutions