The Society of St. Johnland, was a created in 1866 by Reverend William Augustus Muhlenberg, an Episcopalian priest. His goal was to create a place for the poor to escape from city life and enjoy what the rural life had to offer and to provide care for the aged and for abondoned or neglected children.
He was able to purchase 400 acres of farmland off Sunken Meadow Road in the area that now houses the St. Johnland Nursing Home.
According to the book St. Johnland, A Forgotten Utopia, written by the Smithtown Historian Bradley Harris and Kings Park historian King Pedlar, Muhlenberg envisioned a “utopian community made up of old men, old couples, orphans and crippled children who would live and work together in family groups caring for one another in the spirit of brotherly love.”
The community prospered for decades, from its beginnings in 1866 until 1954 and survived through the donations of private individuals and Episcopalian Parishes. The land housed a farm, school, infirmary and church with young and old living together. However, in 1954 the orphanage was no longer able to sustain itself due to stricter state regulations and lack of money and was closed.
The photos here are provided by Kings Park resident King Pedlar who, with his brother and sister, spent four years in the orphanage as well as the camp that was run there every summer. The Pedlar children, King age 10, Dean age 8 and Lynne age 5 came from Roslyn Heights and were just one of many families who entered St Johnland in 1945. Pedlar describes the experience a spiritual, beautiful place. He has kept in touch with many of the other children who were housed there. Here is a glimpse into his time there. It is a bit of history that is unique to Kings Park.
For more information on St. Johnland, visit the Kings Park Heritage Museum where you can find a copy of St. Johnland, A Forgotten Utopia, written by the Smithtown Historian Bradley Harris and Kings Park historian King Peddlar.