Why is the Eliphalet Whitman Homestead historically significant?

The house was constructed in the mid-18th century for Eliphalet Whitman (1737-1780). The Whitman’s were tanners and owners of a shoe factory. The property consists of the farmhouse, barn, and workshed. The house is a simple one-and-one-half story vernacular-style wood frame building. The outbuildings appear to have been constructed in the 19th century. The homestead is listed on the National Register as a contributing structure to the Wyandanch Club Historic District. The Wyandanch Club was a hunting and fishing club founded in the 1880s by a group of wealthy Brooklyn residents. The Whitman homestead was acquired by the club in 1912. The homestead is located in Caleb Smith State Park, which is managed by the state of New York. The park roughly follows the boundaries of the Wyandanch Club Historic District, which acquired the property in 1963.

Whitman Homestead.

Why is the Eliphalet Whitman Homestead endangered?

Although the homestead is reportedly used as a private residence, it is showing signs of neglect. It is located off the main hiking trail through the park and is not accessible to the public. An Adverse Finding determination was made by the NY State Historic Preservation Office on August 15, 2023, for the removal of another structure within the district, the Caleb Smith barn (Memorandum of Resolution.) The park is a popular regional destination for nature enthusiasts and has active support through the “Friends of Caleb Smith Preserve.” The group helps run the museum located in the Caleb Smith house and also obtained a conservation assessment grant for an assessment of the Smith House. They have a stated goal of assessing “the needs for restoration of other historic structures in the Preserve”.

How can the Eliphalet Whitman Homestead be preserved?

  • Increase awareness of the historic significance of the site and the Wyandanch Historic District.
  • Create a condition assessment and preservation plan for the house and outbuildings.

Please contact your officials to voice your support for protecting the natural and historical resources at Caleb Smith State Park!

Contact Governor Hochul:
Send a message to the Governor online HERE, or call her office at (518) 474-8390
Or by mail:
The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Contact your NYS Senator:

Contact your NYS Assembly Representative:

Contact your State Parks officials:
Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Phone: (518) 474-0443
Email: [email protected]

George “Chip” Gorman Jr., Long Island Parks Regional Director
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
625 Belmont Avenue
West Babylon, NY 11704
Phone: (631) 321-3501
Email: george.gorman@parks.ny.gov