Old Field Farm
Among the goals of USA Equestrian Trust is preserving the rich history of equestrian sport, and to that end, the organization granted $22,000 in 2011 to help restore the centerpiece of equestrian sport on Long Island.
Built in 1931, Old Field Farm is an historic equestrian parkland and was home for more than half a century to the prestigious North Shore Horse Show. The site’s Richard Haviland Smythe Main Barn has continued to be a cultural center for equine and community events long after the show ended its run. Unfortunately, the barn has suffered deterioration in recent years, and Old Field Farm, Ltd., a non-profit created to restore and operate the parkland, sought help from the Trust.
The project to restore the barn’s roof will be another chapter in the long history of the site. Long Island philanthropist Ward Melville built Old Field Farm, originally known as the North Shore Horse Show Grounds, in 1931. The Farm is located on 13 scenic acres in the historic Three Village area adjoining 88 acres of protected wetlands overlooking Long Island Sound on the north and the West Meadow Creek wetlands to the south. Melville commissioned architect Richard Haviland Smythe to create the unique equestrian facility. The stable complex is composed of the Main Barn and courtyard, numerous free-standing stables and a large old-fashioned wooden grandstand, all designed in the Colonial Revival style.
Local lore claims the design of the Smythe Barn may have served as the original inspiration for the village of Stony Brook, a U-shaped cluster of charming shops overlooking Stony Brook Harbor with a prominent central cupola complete with a clock bell tower.
The untimely death of owner and well respected professional horseman Hugh J.B. Cassidy in 1986 left the facility vacant. The Farm was later acquired by the county to prevent its commercial sale and possible development. During this period, Old Field Farm stood vacant and continued to deteriorate. The formation of Old Field Farm, Ltd., to restore the property led to much work being done, including the rehabilitation of the roof in 1997. But the renovations of the barn, which has 20 stalls and two corner rooms, have outlived their usefulness and become in dire need of replacement.
Throughout the renovation, which is being done in conjunction with the Suffolk County Department of Parks, the Main Barn will continue to be a center for many educational and cultural activities. In the past, these have included clinics, lectures, art shows and community movie nights, as well as fund raisers to benefit Old Field Farm. A proposed Learning Center located in a nearby stable building has been planned, designed and funded and is in the final stages of having its building permit approved. This indoor classroom space will complement events taking place in the Smythe Main Barn Courtyard and expand the site’s educational and cultural offerings to the equestrian and general community.
“We are deeply grateful for this award and recognition as we expand and grow our programs while we preserve this historic equestrian Old Field Farm County Parkland,” said Dr. Sally A. Lynch, president of Old Field Farm, Ltd.