WHO YOU GONNA CALL ?
It's 1900, your the board of directors of The Pennsylvania Rail Road and you have just taken over control of the Long Island Rail Road. You want to make Austin Corbin's (the late president of the LIRR) plans for a tunnel under the east river to connect Manhattan Island to Long Island, a reality because you know using ferrys just can't handle the passenger traffic anymore.
YOU CALL PAUL ... That's Who
It's two decades later, trains have been running under the east river for over a decade now. You really have no connection I know of to the LIRR other than you have used them more than a time or two on your rides out to family vacation homes in Bellport and Greenlawn Long Island. You now have your own country estate some 65 miles out east on Long Island's south shore and it is built on some very low to sea level ground. (Dig a foot or two and you hit water) But you desire for whatever reason(s) an underground tunnel or two, from say the residence to the garage and one up to the gate house. Who you gonna call ? Well if you are Joseph F. Knapp, aka "Uncle Dodi" ,
YOU CALL UNCLE PAUL .... that's who
Paul Goodwin Brown 1871 - 1950
"Mr. Brown is considered to be a national authority on tunnel construction"
Who built the Mastic Beach "Knapp Mansion" that I knew and played in the 1950's was a question I originally pondered in 2000, when I first started this project. I would come to the conclusion that it was most likely built by Frank M. Lawrence, the previous estate owner in the late 1890's or very early 1900's. The Knapps purchased it from the Lawrences in 1916.
I have felt for years the tunnels out there that connected the mansion to the garage in the back yard and the second one to the gate house which was over a 1/4 mile away on Neighborhood Road, were most likely designed by or their construction supervised by Dodi Knapp's Uncle Paul , who would of had the expertise to deal with the sea level problem. The tunnel to the garage was still completely dry in the 1950's.
Paul Brown married Antoinette Knapp Wallace Milliken in the 1920's. All three of Antoinette (1862- 1948) Knapp's husbands, Edward C. Wallace, Foster Milliken and Paul G. Brown were from the major construction and engineering trades. Wallace and Milliken from the steel business ( cast iron and steel buildings) and Brown from huge civil projects like tunnels and bridges. This is the first picture I have seen of any of Antoinette's spouses. It's from "The Book of New York" by Julius Chambers published in 1912. Here is what Mr. Chambers wrote about Mr. Brown
With a resume like that, a tunnel or two in Mastic Beach
was a walk in the park or Knapp's back yard .
Mastic Beach 1938 _ The Dotted Lines Are The Tunnels
Got To Love The Titles Of Some Of Mr. Chambers Other Books
eg "A Mad World & It's Inhabitants", "The Rascal Club "