The land where Pearl and the Longshore Club Park is today was bought from the Compaw American Indians by Henry Gray in the 1640s. The Grays adopted many things from the American Indians in the area and Longshore grounds were used for oyster and onion farming.
In 1867, Alexander Laurence, a New York businessman, acquired 68 acres of land from George Byron and built the Queen Anne style summer home that we know today as Longshore. His son maintained it until 1910, when his heirs the Crawfords, sold the property to Frederick Lewis, a man of considerate wealth and mystery. Frederick Lewis, was known to have lavish parties including Harry Houdini, Babe Ruth, Buffalo Bill, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is debated to be the direct inspiration for Fitzgerald’s famous work The Great Gatsby. Lewis owned the property until 1929 when we sold it to Colonel Patrick Powers.
‘The Club’ as it was known, was created by silent movie magnate Colonel Patrick A. Powers. Powers brought a showmanship and made Westport a sought after place for famous public figures and celebrities alike as a beach and country club. The Club attracted celebrities by seaplane from Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor. Longshore was the place to be on the eastern seaboard. Guests and members of the club could enjoy amenities such as cabanas by the beach, an aquaplane, docking facilities, barber shop, beauty parlor, exercise classes, horse/dog racing events, etc.
Longshore was a private club up until the town purchased it in 1960 for $1.95 million. A banner headline ran on page one of the New York Times after the town’s purchase proclaiming “Westport Residents Enjoy Community’s Own Luxurious Country Club.”
When Longshore Club Park opened in 1960 to the public the fee was $10 a year for families to enjoy all facilities.