Raynham Hall Since 1850
In 1851, Solomon Townsend II, son of Solomon and Anne, and grandson of Samuel and Sarah, purchased the Townsend Homestead and its property from his aunt’s husband, Ebenezer Seely. He then remodeled and enlarged the colonial dwelling in the fashionable Gothic Revival style, bringing the number of rooms from eight to twenty-two. The addition of a large rear wing and a tower doubled the size of the house and transformed it into an elegant Victorian “villa.” Disregarding his grandfather’s Patriot allegiances, he renamed it Raynham Hall, after the home of the Townshends in Norfolk, England, of whom perhaps the most prominent member was Charles Townshend, author of the Townshend Acts — which played no small part in sparking the Revolution. Initially, Raynham Hall served as a summer residence for Solomon and his family, with Solomon probably commuting to New York City during the week while his wife Helene DeKay Townsend and their children lived in Oyster Bay. By 1861, the family had made Raynham Hall their permanent residence.
Like his father and grandfather, Solomon was a prosperous merchant and importer. In keeping with the family tradition of public service, he served in the State Legislature and at two State Constitutional Conventions, in addition to being President of the Oyster Bay Board of Education. By 1860 he was one of the wealthiest and most respected men in Oyster Bay.