Merrick is a suburban, residential community on the south shore of Long Island, about 30 miles from New York City. A little history...
It is named after the Meroke Indian tribe, the earliest residents of this region. The name is said to mean "peaceful." In the mid-1600's, settlers came from England looking for a better way of life and of course, freedom of religion. Agriculture was their chief occupation.
The first railroad came through in 1867 and, naturally, impacted the population growth and business. Up until that point, there were about 1,000 year-round residents.
It wasn't until after World War I, that Merrick's development began to grow in leaps and bounds. The first large scale real estate development in Merrick were the "Gables" built south of Sunrise Highway. They were built by Joseph Frankel and William Fox, owner of Fox Film Corp which later became known as Twentieth Century Fox.
Stucco homes were built in the trendy Spanish style of the day. The Gables boasted shopping and entertainment, a short commute to NYC and wonderful schools.
Development began in 1928 and 400 homes were built in an 8 block area. Unfortunately, after the stock market crash of 1929, the Fox-Frankel Merrick Development Company went bankrupt and 400 plus lots had to be sold at auction. Different style homes sprang up on these lots.
The Merrick Gables were originally sold for $8,000 - $10,000. The oversized dining rooms and sunken living rooms were just perfect for the movies stars who wanted the space to entertain. Errol Flynn and Ed Begley, Sr as well as Jr., are the most recognizable homeowners of that era.
It was around this time that South Merrick and North Merrick divided into two distinct communities. South Merrick (which includes the Gables) developed first with paved roads, electricity, gas and mail delivery. It grew and prospered as improved services became available to families wishing to settle here.
Merrick Avenue is the beautiful tree-lined street that runs through the center of town. In the early 1900's, a small jitney traveled up and down the avenue picking up passengers along the way for the price of a nickel. Merrick Avenue was widened twice (1930 and 1940) to allow for traffic that resulted from the developing business district. Location of this new commerce was determined by the railroad.
One of Nassau County's earliest libraries was opened in 1891 at the corner of Merrick and Kirkwood Avenues. That structure still stands today, functioning now as an annex to the modern and spacious, present-day building that is just down the road. It is a focal point of the community and offers many educational programs to the thousands who use it.
The Merrick Gables Civic Association, made up of homeowners, works to maintain a safe, clean and aesthetically pleasing community.
In the summer of 2010, the HBO Miniseries "Mildred Pierce" was filmed at the Merrick Gables. Kate Winslet and Melissa Leo were two of the big stars in this story about a housewife struggling to support her family during the Depression. The Gable homes were chosen because they looked similar to those found in Los Angeles in the 1930's. The Civic Association supported this endeavor as a chance to publicize this lovely community.
Gordon, Patricia. Yesterdays in the Merricks. Published as a Public Service by Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh, New York, 1975.