Jan 30 2016

The Motor Parkway Toll Collection Structures: #15 & #16 The Brentwood Lodges at Commack Road

Going west to east, the 15th & 16th Motor Parkway toll collection structures were the confusingly named Brentwood Lodges at Commack Road. Confusing because the structure was located in Commack, not Brentwood, and did not have any lodging facilities for the gatekeeper.

Today, my favorite co-author Al Velocci  and I met to share our research on this "Brentwood Lodge" and paid a site visit. Below are our surprising findings.


Howard Kroplick

March 1907 Survey

Approximately 12 acres were purchased for the future lodge east of the "Babylon and Commack Road" from Charles Mitchell.

Bridge Schematic- March 17, 1909

This was the plan for the proposed bridge over Commack Road that was revised on August 18, 1911.

Due to lack of funds, this bridge and over 15 proposed Motor Parkway bridges were never built.

Brentwood Lodge at Commack Road

 By 1922, the Motor Parkway decided to place a new toll collection structure at the very busy intersection in Commack. The kiosk from Washington Avenue in Brentwood (shown here) was relocated to the northeast corner of the intersection of Commack Road and the Motor Parkway. Today it is the current location of the Bonwit Inn.

Al Velocci notes:
The location was always known as the Brentwood Lodge; in Parkway correspondence it was usually more accurately described as the Brentwood Lodge at Commack Road... Why not call it the Commack Lodge? Because, the Parkway had a legal obligation to maintain the Brentwood Lodge designation.. Evidently the language of the Brentwood Park Land Improvement convenant was such that ...the Brentwood Lodge designation could be separated from the actual Washington Avenue entrance.  It may helped that the same "Brentwood Lodge" kiosk used at Washington Avenue was now at Commack Road.

Sam Berliner III Bonwit Inn website.

April 21, 1922 Contract with with gatekeeper Louis W. Austin (From the Al Velocci Collection)

The lodge opened on April 29, 1922 with gatekeeper Louis W. Austin of Deer Park receiving $25 per month (equivalent to $4,250 per year today.)  However, Austin actually negotiated a good deal with the Motor Parkway in  that he was allowed to sell gasoline and automobile supplies at the kiosk as long as it did not intefere with his gatekeeper duties.

August 6, 1923 Invoice from the Long Island Motor Parkway, Inc.

By 1923, the Motor Parkway decided to build a new toll lodge with gatekeeper lodging facilities across the Motor Parkway on the southeast section of the intersection with Commack Road.

As shown in this correspondence, Louis  Austin purchased the kiosk ("formerly Brentwood Lodge) from the Motor Parkway for $40 and rented the property for $25 for 1923. He resigned his gatekeeper position while continuing to service his gas station located on the Motor Parkway right-of-way..

August 11, 1923 Correspondence

In this correspondence, the Motor Parkway confirmed that the property north and south of the Motor Parkway was later sold to Louis Austin. The sale excluded a 130 feet by 330 feet section south of the Motor Parkway which was reserved "for future development of the Parkway and for a lodge site."

According to Al Velocci, the new lodge opened on December 12, 1923 with Julius Bohenkamp as the new lodgekeeper.

October 9, 1924 Correspondence

In this correspondence, the Motor Parkway requested that Louis Austin move his gas station off the right-of way.

Current View

The site of the Brentwood Lodge at Commack Road (1922-1923).

Brentwood Lodge (1923-1928)

A permanent toll lodge with living accomodations was built on the southeast corner of Commack Road and the Motor Parkway. To date, there is no known photo of this toll lodge.

Al Velocci has documentation that the toll lodge was similar to the Ronkonkoma Lodge with gates crossing the Motor Parkway.

Look Familiar?

One-half mile north of the Motor Parkway on Commack Road, Al and I found this unusual structure. The 85-year old owner of the property informed us it was constructed by his father  to sell honey and produce from their farm. And yes, his father was good friends with Louis Austin.

Update: Al and I later discovered this structure had been built by the father. The search for the toll lodge continues.

Russo's Revelations (Submitted by Dave Russo)

This little lodge sits in front of cemetery on Wellwood ave. Looks pretty similar!!


Jan 31 2016 Althea Travis 6:05 AM

Howard -
I would like to invite you and Al to speak to the members of the Greater New York Antique Automobile Club on the first Thursday in April.  The meeting location is at the American Legion hall in Williston Park.  There is parking to the south of the building where there is an entrance to the meeting room.  There is additional parking space to the north on - you got it! - the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway.  The annual Spring Meet held by the club will be held later in April on the grounds of the Motor Parkway.  Looking forward to hearing from you.  Althea Travis

Jan 31 2016 S. Berliner, III 9:49 AM

Ayuh!  The current stand and the old lodge are in almost no way alike; besides, the proportions are all wrong.  May I refer you folks to my coverage of the Bonwit at <http://sbiii.com/limpkwy5.html#limpspur> and <http://sbiii.com/bonwitin.html>.  As before, the thumbnails now come up fuzzy but click on them for better pix.  Give me a few hours to restore the old Bonwit page, please.  Aside from the sad personal aspect, it’s too bad both Tsunises passed away; they each had promised to be major sources of background info.  Sam, III

Jan 31 2016 Cathy Ball 10:23 AM

Great research about this lodge!

Jan 31 2016 Brian D McCarthy 11:32 AM

The structure that Howard and Al came across is quite similar to the original Brentwood Lodge. It looks to be in the front property? Is it safe to assume that the 2nd lodge built at the S/E corner of the LIMP and Commack Rd. was demolished?
From Howard Kroplick
The building is directly in front of the main house.

The southeast toll lodge at Commack will be the next lodge in the series.

Jan 31 2016 Howard Kroplick 12:00 PM

From John Wevers:

Hi Howard - Regarding the toll booth on Commack Road…it is easy for a local to understand how there is confusion there. Crooked Hill Road meets Commack road just feet from the Motor Parkway. Crooked Hill Road become Fifth Avenue, the main way into and through Brentwood.

That corner is the Commack School District, the Dix Hills Fire Department and kind of on the boundary line of Smithtown Town and the Town of Huntington.

That intersection had some meaning or such as I do remember there was a hot dog stand there at that corner ...Heine’s…..pronounced “hieny.” That is the site or origin of the Bonwit. And of course my Dad who was somewhat of a local historian of sorts recalled the toll booth as he called it and for all I cannot recall, he had mentioned a further use after it had been moved….but to where? As for the honey sales booth, I am not so sure. But to agree on the Brentwood origins…..it looks, in construction, like several old old buildings I remember in Brentwood. The only building that I know to still exist that the toll both picture reminds me of is the one room school located on the grounds of Brentwood High School.
Just to say, I really enjoy your website and the efforts of those who contribute.


Jan 31 2016 S. Berliner, III 8:37 PM

O. K. - the Bonwit page is now back up and there’s material about Heinie’s for John Wevers (and the rest of you) there {the Heine’s links are also up}.  Sam, III

Jan 31 2016 Howard Kroplick 9:27 PM

From Gary H.:

Back in the 1970’s I was involved in the initial “restoration” of the Marion Carll Farm, located north of the LIMP, on the west side of Commack Road, surrounded by a golf course.  One of the “neighbors” that I dealt with was the Harned family who lived down the street.  Seeing this building reminded me of the enjoyable times I had out there exploring the numerous buildings of the Marion Carll Farm, which then remained as a time capsule, having been untouched in many years, with the buildings filled with artifacts associated with Commack’s history.  At that time Carll’s niece Alberta Jenkins still lived there, and I was lucky enough to spend time with her talking about the area’s history.  Amazing how a simple photo can bring back such memories.


Feb 02 2016 frank femenias 10:01 PM

Both booths appear octangular with odd angles and share some similarities. The honey booth may have been modified over time for required reasons. The nearby location is interesting!

John Wevers’ booth sighting at Brentwood High School (also octangular with odd angles), located ~2 ½ mi. south from the LIMP via Washington Ave (the booth’s original location), shows much resemblance to the Brentwood Lodge even from a poor overhead view. As John said, it is located on school grounds, but out of view and in a courtyard surrounded by buildings. Location: N40 46 25.11, W73 15 15.57. Rough measurements of the sides ranged from 3 ½ ft. – 7 ½ ft. This one too may be worth a visit if access is granted

Feb 03 2016 Brian D McCarthy 6:38 PM

I grew up in Brentwood. The building located near what was my elementary school ( Village Elementary ) is the original Brentwood Schoolhouse. The high schools are on the same property S/O this location. I haven’t been in this area in a long time, wonder what kind of shape it’s in.

Feb 05 2016 frank femenias 7:55 PM

Hi Brian, If visiting, it would be great to take some snapshots of the booth on the high school grounds for comparison, or perhaps for positive identification of a long lost relic of the Motor Parkway! I will be attempting to call ahead before heading down (I’m in Valley Stream) to see if access is permissible, probably visiting during non-school hours may be better. This could prove difficult though, as entry to one of the buildings is necessary to reach the booth.

Feb 27 2016 Joseph DeBono 9:29 AM

great picture

Leave a Comment