2. Stony Brook
Stony Brook is a rather historic hamlet in the Town of Brookhaven that is home to Stony Brook University (which served as a temporary coronavirus field hospital), with almost 27,000 enrolled students. Stony Brook was originally referred to as Wopowog prior to colonization, and in 1699, a grist mill was constructed at Mill Pond and was replaced with its current one in 1751. The area remained rather isolated until the LIRR reached Stony Brook in the 1870s, and in the 1840s, efforts were made to dredge Stony Brook’s harbor by painter William Sidney Mount although they were soon after abandoned.
Stony Brook is often associated with Setauket and Old Field in the “Three Village” area, which is where philanthropist Ward Melville supported the restoration and preservation of historic buildings. Melville would later donate 400 acres of land to establish Stony Brook University and create a New England-style village at the Stony Brook Village Center, modeled similarly to Colonial Williamsburg. Today, Stony Brook houses the largest academic medical center on Long Island at Stony Brook University Hospital.
West Meadow Beach
Many of Stony Brook’s historic homes and structures remain throughout the hamlet, including the Grist Mill and the William Sidney Mount House, along with a house designed by Stanford White that is privately owned. Other places on the NRHP include Hawkins Homestead, Gamecock Cottage, and the Nathaniel Longbotham House. Stony Brook is also home to the West Meadow Beach Historic District, with a wetlands preserve and a few remaining cottages that were built around the 1920s. Stony Brook houses the Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages, with many works by Mount, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and William Merritt Chase. Parks around Stony Brook include Avalon Nature Preserve, T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park, and Forsythe Meadow County Park. The university also has some architectural gems of its own, like the modern Simons Center for Geometry and Physics and the Charles B. Wang Center, as well as the 26-acre Ashley Schiff Preserve.
Stony Brook’s many restaurants are rather scattered, but the quaint village center features eight eateries including Country House Restaurant, Pentimento Restaurant, and Robinson’s Tea Room. Stony Brook, and surrounding St. James and Centereach, is often considered Long Island’s Chinatown due to the presence of over a dozen authentic Chinese eateries, and popular options include Jianghu Restaurant, the very casual China Station, and Red Tiger Dumpling House. The area remains one of the most diverse on Long Island, and other ethnic options include Ssambap Korean BBQ, Persian eatery Basil Cafe Restaurant, and The Curry Club.