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Sylvester Manor Celebrates Major Gift

Posted on 27 June 2014

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Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island announced this week that Eben Fiske Ostby has donated the 1737 manor house, its grounds and barns, the 1810 windmill, farm fields and woodlands to the nonprofit farm he and his nephew Bennett Konesni founded just four years ago. It’s the largest gift of land in the history of Shelter Island, and brings the total land donated to Sylvester Manor Educational Farm to 225 acres.

The property had remained in the private hands of the family that settled it during the colonial era more than 360 years ago is now owned by a local nonprofit committed to cultivating and preserving the land, and sharing Sylvester Manor and its history with the public.

“This remarkable gift and the benefits it bestows on our Island are difficult to fully comprehend,” said Sylvester Manor executive director Cara Loriz in a press release. “Words of thanks cannot adequately express our gratitude to Eben and his family.”

“My thanks to the many people at the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm and the Peconic Land Trust and to the people of Shelter Island who have worked to carry Sylvester Manor into a new era,” said Mr. Ostby in the release. My family is proud to make the manor a public resource with the founding of the educational farm and with this gift to the organization.”

The gift, one of the most significant  transfers of land and cultural assets on Long Island, was many years in the making. It follows Mr. Ostby’s 2012 donation of 83 acres of historic fields and pastures, which are preserved forever as farmland through town, county and federal conservation programs. Mr. Ostby also donated a 22-acre conservation easement to the Peconic Land Trust in 2009; preserved lands comprise 103 of the nonprofit’s 225-acre total.

Mr. Ostby, Mr. Konesni and other family members will be on Shelter Island to celebrate the gift at Sylvester Manor’s Farm to Table Dinner on Saturday, June 28. Call Sylvester Manor at (631) 749-0626 for ticket availability and more information.

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