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Lynbrook historical odds and ends: Cyclone hits in 1897

The roofless Witchen home after a cyclone hit.
The roofless Witchen home after a cyclone hit.
Courtesy Lynbrook Historical Collection — Maybelle A. Winter Collection

d ends is a column that takes a look back at some interesting facts and events in the village from over the years.


A tornado struck Lynbrook on Aug. 18, 1897. It originated as a waterspout in Jamaica Bay, in Queens, taking a northeasterly course. It was described in the Brooklyn Eagle as, “a dark funnel-shaped cloud, whirling about with terrific velocity, and with a dull roar.”   

Great damage was done to Charles Noble’s hotel, located in the “V” between Hempstead and Franklin avenues, at the Malverne border. The hotel was torn from its foundation and carried into the middle of Hempstead Avenue. The building was re-seated on its foundation and renamed, appropriately, the Cyclone Hotel

The Witchen home, located nearby on Hendrickson Avenue, was severely damaged as well. The photo shows the house with trees uprooted and its roof torn off.  Mrs. Witchen, who was on the second floor when the tornado hit, scampered unharmed down the stairs just as the roof was ripped off above her head. 

The tornado proceeded eastward across northeast Lynbrook and southeast Malverne — just missing the Norwood School on Ocean Avenue. It then moved on across Lakeview to Rockville Centre, encountering nothing but cornfields for two miles.


Mattson is the official Lynbrook village historian and a director of the Historical Society of East Rockaway and Lynbrook. Additionally, he is the author of “The History of Lynbrook,” which is available on Amazon.com and at local libraries