Jeff Blossom was a resident of Freeport, where he lived from the
late 1920s. Since he was a teenager, Jeff spent most of his time on
the south shore’s bays and beaches, enjoying the company of his friends
as they went duck hunting, clamming and fishing. He always spent time
at one of his friends’ bay houses.
Bay houses are small shacks that dot the marshlands on Nassau Countys
south shore. The bay houses, which date back to the 1800s, were originally
built by fishermen for shelter during the winter and summer clamming and
hunting seasons. The houses have been passed down through several generations.
Jeff owned a bay house that was originally built by Pete Kleiner. Like
other bay houses, it was modest in scale, consisting of two small rooms
topped by a pitched gable roof. Spectacular scenery surrounded the house.
Jeff began building models of bay houses as a hobby. However, the models
have great historic significance today. In 1965 the Town of Hempstead
began tearing down scores of bay houses, to return the marshlands to a
natural state. Jeff lost his bay house during this time. His models are
among the few reminders that bay houses existed prior to 1965. Thirty-one
bay houses remain today. In 1994, the Town voted to preserve the bay houses
for future generations.
Jeffs models document the history of hundreds of bay houses. As a former
bay house owner, Jeff was very knowledgeable about the bay houses historical
and cultural importance, to recreational and commercial fishermen. You
can see them at the Long Island Marine Education Center located at 202
Woodcleft Avenue in Freeport. He built over 100 models that recreate
with exacting details the design and structure of this unique cultural
resource. Using tools he designed and built from scratch, Jeff’s models
reflect his extensive craftsmanship as a woodworker.
Jeff passed away in 2010 after a brief illness. LI Traditions is seeking a permanent home for his beautiful models so that they are perserved for future generations. We shall miss his gentle spirit and expert craftsmanship.