Spatengaville: Fire Island’s ‘Best Kept Secret’

Spatengaville: Fire Island’s ‘Best Kept Secret’

By Timothy Bolger

WELCOME TO SPATENGAVILLE, arguably the least-known community on Fire Island and surely the smallest with just four homes falling within its tiny, one-block-long borders on the eastern end of the barrier beach.

Spatengaville was named for its founding developer, Hugo Spatenga, who established the extremely private and strictly residential neighborhood about a decade before the Fire Island National Seashore was formed just over a half century ago. The fun-to-say neighborhood is so small and so private that it’s neither on local maps nor counted among the 17 communities on FI, but those destined for this remote stretch of sand will find it between Water Island and Barrett Beach—but don’t expect to find any walkways connecting it to either.

“We called it the best kept secret on Fire Island,” Spatenga, 90, told the News during a phone interview from his home in Sayville. “We kept the place quiet all these years.”

The community is made up of just two homes on the bay and two more on the ocean. They are all connected by one boardwalk, dubbed—you guessed it—Spatenga Walk. Hugo characterized his namesake neighborhood as the narrowest residential community— just 200 feet from bay to ocean.

Celebrity stories heard in other communities on Fire Island did not skip Spatengaville, despite the fact that it’s about as off-the-grid as one can get— or perhaps because of the privacy that comes with its feeling of being remote.

Big names who have previously spent time here included Bill Cullen, who was known as the “Dean of Game Show Hosts,” actress/singer Eartha Kitt, whose most enduring hit is “Santa Baby,” as well as other celebs that sought out Spatengaville for the distance it puts between its residents and the camera’s glare in the rest of the world.

Like neighboring Water Island, there is no public water system linked to Spatengaville, so the area uses private well water. The community also shares the cost of maintaining its lone bayside dock, since the area is only accessible by private boat. Those without a boat must walk from the ferry to Water Island because there are no ferries to Spatengaville.

Hugo has since sold his home here, as have many of the original residents. Among the most recent sales was at 2 Spatenga walk—a three bedroom, two bathroom single story classic wooden beach house that sold for $800,000 on New Year’s Eve, according to the Multiple Listing Service Long Island. Others have sold for more than $1 million, Hugo said.

As for visitors, only one or two per year manage to find their way to Spatengaville, Hugo said. Not that there’s much to see or do, since there are no restaurants here. Those who do arrive uninvited in Spatengaville are welcomed by a big sign that reads: “Private, Keep Out.”

View of a Spatangaville home (Copyright (C), Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, Inc, 2004)