Inside Brookwood Hall Mansion resides the Islip Arts Council, the Islip
Art Museum, the Frank Szemko History Room, and the main offices of
the Town of Islip Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs as well as the handicapped services office for the Town of Islip. This historic building is nestled in picturesque Brookwood Hall Park. Across the way from the building's handicapped entrance are a children’s playground, a senior center, and a thriving community vegetable garden.
After a visit to the Islip Art Museum, be sure to take a stroll around the grounds of historic Brookwood Hall Park. Inside this lush 35 acre park you will find the freshwater Knapps Lake which is stocked with fish, walking trails, tennis and bocce courts, softball fields, and picnic areas.
There are several significant outdoor sculptures in the gardens accompanied by a number of beautiful architectural features located in various places around the 1903, 41-room Georgian revival style mansion. (see map above).
1 - Most of Us Are Immigrants / Janet Goldner
Janet Goldner is a highly acclaimed artist and master welder. She donated this collection entitled “Most of Us Are Immigrants” to the Islip Art Museum in 1997. Four of the five original vessels adorn the West Garden today.
Each 3-sided steel sculpture stands 8' tall and is constructed of fractured iron metal plates attached to curvaceous iron mesh frames. The metal surfaces were painstakingly engraved with poetic words from prominent people. The sentiments are especially relevant today and preserve the social and political landscape of America’s past. They cover views on culture, building a stronger nation, courage, work ethic, trials and tribulations of Polish, Russian, Irish, and Albanian immigrants, and suffering from inequity and slavery.
Pictured above are close-up images of all three sides of the first in the series of sculptures. The east facing poem was written by Phillis Wheatly, the first English-speaking person of African descent to publish a book in the U.S. She may also have been the first woman to be published in the U.S. Her poem is about tyranny and slavery in the colonies, published in 1773.
Phillis was born in Africa, captured, and sold into slavery at 7 years old to John Wheatley of Boston, Massachusetts in 1761. The Wheatley family recognized her intelligence and taught her to read and write.
In 1772, Phillis Wheatley wrote, “To the Right Honourable Willam (Legee), Earl of Dartmouth,” and declared that her love of freedom came from being a slave, and describes being kidnapped from her parents. She compared the colonies’ relationship with England to a slave’s relationship with a slave holder.
I, young in life, by seeming cruel fate
Was snatch’d from Afric’s fancy’d happy seat:
What pangs excruciating must molest,
What sorrows labor in my parent’s
Steel’d was that soul and by no
That from a father seiz’d his babe
Such, such my case.
And can I then but pray
others may never feel tyrannic
- Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral,
London, 1773 (Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC06154)
2 - THE PINEAPPLE FINIALS
There are two large Pineapple finials located at the entry to the cobblestone courtyard of Brookwood Hall. These are reproductions of those that stood at the entryway in 1903.
The pineapple is a traditional symbol of hospitality and is seen throughout European and American architecture. Pineapples can be found on finials atop historic buildings, cast in stone pediments above doorways, and represented in carved architectural motifs.
It is also said that upon returning from a voyage, sea captains would place the prized fruit on display outside their homes as a signal of their homecoming. This may be the origin of the pineapple as a symbol of greeting, which evolved into the more permanent adornment of exterior spaces that we see today.
3 - The Cyclone
4 - the gates
the sculpture Gardens are open daily from 7am-8pm
They are located on the grounds of the Museum at Brookwood Hall.