Located on Edgewood Avenue between Landing Avenue and Teapot Lane, stands a home from the 1800s. Set back from the road, it’s easy to pass it by without even a glance.
While it’s not a museum like other older structures in our area, the house and the surrounding property have played a part in our local history. Known as Ebo Hill, it once belonged to the Smith family and was a starting point for Smithtown’s fox hunts in the early part of the 20th century.
“It’s definitely a throwback to the past,” said Smithtown historian Bradley Harris.
According to “Colonel Rockwell’s Scrap-Book” published by the Smithtown Historical Society in 1968, the house was built around 1846, and the property extended to the Nissequogue River. The land once belonged to Obadiah Smith, a great grandson of our town founder Richard Smythe. When Obadiah passed away, his grandson Lyman Beecher Smith inherited the property.
Lyman lived in another home on Edgewood Avenue, so he gave it to his daughter Nancy when she married a doctor by the name of Josiah Bowers, according to the scrap-book. When Nancy died in 1877, her husband sold the homestead to Ethelbert Marshall Smith, another descendant of Smythe.
During Ethelbert and his wife Emily’s residence, the house was moved from the northeast corner of Edgewood and Landing to sit further back on the property. According to “Colonel Rockwell’s Scrap-Book”, their son R. Lawrence added the columns and large room on the east side of the house when he resided there after 1918.
Harris said R. Lawrence, a Princeton graduate, was a businessman who owned ships that were used to ship horses overseas to our allies during World War I. One of those ships was called Hauppauge after our neighboring hamlet.
During the early 1900s, he was active in the Smithtown fox hunts that took place in the area and owned a private pack of hounds. Many times Ebo Hill would serve as a starting point for these hunts that were extremely popular in our town until World War II.
According to Harris, R. Lawrence was also a philanthropist. During the polio epidemic in 1916, he helped to establish a hospital on Darling Avenue, and he donated a house on Jericho Turnpike to the Red Cross to use during World War I.
R. Lawrence’s brother Marshall lived in the home after his sibling. Marshall was the first to use the name Ebo. According to “Colonel Rockwell’s Scrap-book”, at the time it was called Ebo Farm. One local legend is that Ebo was the name of the last Native American who lived in the area.
The property was eventually sold out of the Smith family. When “Colonel Rockwell’s Scrap-book” was published in 1968, an Arthur D. Phillips owned the home. It was Phillips that revised the name to Ebo Hill.
Ownership of the home has changed hands over the years, and the now vacant Ebo Hill stands as an example of our difficult economic times. Yet a glance down the winding driveway to the once elegant home reminds us of the early days of Smithtown and our founding family.