Francis Marion Smith - the Borax King
F.M. Smith (1846-1931) bought Cedar Island in 1899 from the Nicoll family as part of many purchases to expand his Shelter Island summer estate known as "Presdeleau." Smith's Pacific Coast Borax Company marketed as "20 Mule Team Borax" was the industry leader for decades. Frank, or "Borax" Smith built the simple log shelter on Taylor's Island as a rustic retreat for picnicking and entertainment. He often hosted outings and clambakes on the Island.
In 1921 the title to Cedar (Taylor's) Island was transferred to various development companies until its purchase by Mr. Taylor. The cabin still had the original authentic log wall construction, unfinished cedar poles as porch posts, and an over scaled stone chimney and hearth. (Photo courtesy the S.I. Historical Society)
Our Benefactor - S. Gregory Taylor (Soterios Gregorios Tavoulares)
S. Gregory Taylor (1888-1948) acquired Cedar Island from Shelter Island Developments, Inc. in 1939. Mr. Taylor (Soterios Gregorios Tavoulares) emigrated in 1908 at twenty, and worked his way from bellhop to owner of several large New York hotels, including The Montclair, The Hotel Dixie, and the Hotel St. Moritz. Forty years after F.M. Smith built the original cabin on Cedar Island, Mr. Taylor added a bedroom, a kitchen, running water, a heating system, and a tower. Mr. Taylor cherished his Island retreat and is buried on the northeast side of the Island overlooking the entrance to Coecles Harbor. He stipulated in his will that his nephew, Stephen Stephano, should have the use of the Island and that title would pass to the Town of Shelter Island for "the use and enjoyment of the general public."
Andrew Arkin - Steward of Taylor's Island
Andrew Arkin (1924-2009) discovered Taylor's Island while flying over Coecles Harbor in a seaplane. Through a realtor, Greg Price, Andrew was able to contact Mr. Taylor's nephew, Stephan Stephano, who had the lifetime use of the Island. Andrew was able to lease the Island in exchange for the maintenance and restoration of the cabin, as well as providing access to Mr. Taylor's sister should she wish to visit her brother's grave. Andrew was able to care for Taylor's Island for twenty-two years, until 1980. Andrew returned to Taylor's Island in 2006. In 2008 he arrived by seaplane, for a celebration in his honor.
Ron and Ronnie Sauers Era
Creation of the Taylor's Island Preservation and Management Committee
Taylor's Island (deed) was left to the Town of Shelter Island "for the use and enjoyment of the general public" by S. Gregory Taylor (Soterios Gregorios Tavoulares) in his last will and testament and accepted by the Town of Shelter Island in 1979.
Under the terms of the will, Mr. Taylor's nephew, Stephen Stephano, had the use of Taylor's Island until his death, which occurred in 1997. The Town took actual possession of the Island in 1998.
The Town of Shelter Island and the Nature Conservancy entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in August of 2001 for the management of Taylor's Island. An attachment to the agreement, called Exhibit "A", included
plans to "Remove the house that currently occupies the site." Fortunately, a public outcry ensued and the plan was abandoned.
In November of 2005, Councilman Peter Reich introduced conceptual drawings and a plan to "demolish the house, leaving the fireplace and chimney." The Shelter Island Reporter covered the story. Again, there was a public outcry to save the historic cabin.
Councilwoman Christine Lewis suggested creating a Preservation and Management Committee and with the support of Councilmen Ed Brown and Neal Raymond, the Taylor's Island Committee was born. The new effort to preserve Taylor's Island received both coverage and editorial support in the Shelter Island Reporter.