Every town has a tale to tell.  Looking at all of the towns Staten Island is made up of, you can probably guess that Staten Island has many tales to tell. You'd be right.  One of these tales circulates along the waters of Brady's Pond, in thGrasmere Lake?Brady's Ponde Grasmere section, is the only freshwater pond on Staten Island that has been deemed suitable for swimming. Prior to this, however, Brady's Pond was popular for another reason-it was believed to be haunted. In fact, it was not a pond at all and went by a completely different name at the time: Haunted Swamp.

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At some point in the early nineteenth century, a murder was committed by the edge of the pond. This led to the claim of the pond being haunted. During the 1880s, the owner of the pond and surrounding area, Sir Roderick Cameron, sold  the land to Philip Brady. Brady placed  a dam on the swamp, converting it into a pond.  In the winter months, the process of harvesting ice was a very prosperous business, and Philip Brady decided to do exactly that. After his ownership, the legend of the pond being haunted had started to spread and locals began to believe it more and more. This was mainly due to the fact that many deaths were occurring on the pond at the time.
The deaths at Brady's Pond mostly took place during the winter, when residents would go ice skating on the pond. Although Brady had warned visitors that the ice was too thin, children would ignore him and ice skate or play on it anyway, which would cause these non-swimmers to fall through the ice. Philip Brady must have either been spooked, or just wanted to retire, because in 1909, he sold his land to Heinrich Christ William Feith. His name, however, stuck with the pond, as it became known as "Brady's Pond."

Heinrich Christ William Feith, who went by the name "Henry Christ," sold a portion of his land to Charles D. Durkee on September 1, 1911. On his land, a mansion was built for the Durkee family, and a brick factory was constructed for his marine hardware firm.  Over the years, residents and the like were invited to visit "Brady's Pond at Durkee Manor."  On October 24, 1930, the head of the Staten Island Marine Hardware Firm passed away. Nonetheless, residents still flocked to the beautiful pond to swim and fish in its waters and to just take in the beauty of the secluded area.

In 1930, the privately-owned Cameron Lake Club was established. The club was named in honor of the first prominent owner of the land whom we mentioned earlier, Sir Roderick Cameron.  He owned the land that is now known as Brady's Pond Park.  On top of that, the Canadian-born businessman owned the entire neighborhood that the park is located in. You see, Sir Cameron had become quite a wealthy man after co-founding the R.W. Cameron and Company shipping line.  After being knighted by the Queen on June 16, 1883, he did much traveling. It is believed that in his travels, he had visited England's Lake District of Grasmere and appropriately named his land on Staten Island, as it was reminiscent of the beautiful district.

Brady's Pond Park encompasses fifteen acres underneath the Staten Island Expressway. Today, it is still very much secluded, as it was  years ago.  However, with the growth of lifeguarding, Brady's Pond has become much safer than it was in the past few centuries.  Since the pond is owned by the Cameron Lake Club, much of its use is limited to people without Lake Rights. These people would be residents of streets surrounding the area. They have access to the entire pond as well as to row boats and sand beach.  They are also the only visitors who are allowed to use non-motorized boats in Brady's Pond. Be that as it may, the general public may access the park by Manorville Court and enjoy the lovely views the park has to offer.

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on


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