Suffolk County News (Sayville), 13 February 1903, p. 1:
MID WINTER FIRES: A Fine House at Brookhaven
A disastous fire occurred at Brookhaven early last Friday morning [6 February 1903] just after midnight on the beautiful place, Shore Acres, the property of Charles Stark, on the point. The terrific wind that had blown all Thursday increased by night , and fanned the fire furiously. Shore Acres was built about two years ago, and was one of the finest houses in that section. It was erected by Bellport builders at a cost of over $15,000. It occupied on of the most picturesque points on the Great South Bay, from which the Fire Island light can be plainly seen on a clear night. It is opposite the historical "Smith's Point," across Carman's River.
The Bellport fire company responded in a very short time, and reached the fire in remarkably quick time, considering the distance they had to go over two of the highest hills in the vicinity.* The men worked with a hearty will for several hours before the fire was gotten under control. It was feared that the handsome place of John Gorman, of Rodney street, Brooklyn, might catch fire, as the meadows burned wildly for some time.
Mr Stark is well known on Long Island and in Brooklyn, and with the destruction of this beautiful place, Brookhaven loses one of its most popular summer resorts, where many well known Brooklyn and New York people spent last season.
The meadows caught fire and burned for a great distance along the bay shore. From a distance the burning grass looked like the lights of a great city, and the reflection shone for a long distance on the waters of the bay.
From the Archives of the Long Island Advance,100 Years Ago 6 Feb, 2003:
Last night during the gale the fine residence of Mr. Charles Starke was totally destroyed by fire. The family of four barely escaped with their lives. The first intimation they had of the fire was the windows falling in above their beds. Mrs. Starke was awakened first. The high wind helped the flames to quickly consume the big barn with its horse, carriages and entire contents. The origin of the fire is unknown. The loss is heavy as the house was the finest in Brookhaven. It stood at the foot of Bay Avenue, directly on the shore of the bay. The total loss is estimated at $10,000, partially insured. The Bellport fire bell rang and people from both villages went, but nothing could be done to save the building.
* In 1903, the Bellport Fire Department had no mechanized equipment -- the first motorized truck was not purchased until 1916. Until then, equipment was hand-drawn. The first pumping engine was not purchased until 1924. See History of
the Bellport Fire Department. The "hills" mentioned were likely the two hollows between Bellport and Brookhaven -- Clam Hollow just east of the George Washington Lodge, and Otter Hollow which today is modern Bellhaven Road. There is also a hollow at Mott Creek at the village's eastern boundary. While these knolls seem minor today, pulling hand-drawn equipment on a dirt road over them would have been no mean task. The total distance from Bellport to the fire scene is about 2.5 miles.
John Gorman had a house near the bay at the foot of Mott Lane (aka Gorman Lane), about 0.5 mile to the east. It no longer exists.