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Dogwood Hollow

By Jessica Giannetti

From the TVHS Archives, August 2016

The quiet woods of Stony Brook were once the location of the Dogwood Hollow Amphitheater. Located behind All Souls Episcopal Church and the current Market Square Shops, the Amphitheater opened in the summer of 1947, holding concerts, movies and was eventually the home of the Stony Brook Music Festival for fifteen seasons. During that time big performers such as Theodore Bikel, Carlos Montoya and Louis Armstrong could be seen for just a few dollars by anyone who traveled to the quaint location.

Designed by architect Richard Haviland Smythe and supported by The Suffolk Improvement Company, the Amphitheater was built for the community to have a place to relax and be entertained. Dogwood Hollow was nestled in a natural ravine, which allowed for the picture perfect location of an outdoor venue. The stage was built against the steeper slope which gave a flawless view for the seats which were arranged along the gentler slope and could hold up to five hundred people. The additional slopes of the ravine were landscaped and could hold an extra five hundred people either sitting on the ground or standing. Lighting was installed for the stage, as well as, for the paths leading down into the amphitheater. The picturesque outdoor venue was the perfect place to catch a summertime show.

Sadly, the lights dimmed in Dogwood Hollow for the last time in the summer of 1970. Come the following summer the amphitheater was forced to comply with a cease and desist order brought forth by a disgruntled neighbor. Upon receiving the order it was discovered that the theater did not have the proper zoning variances and in order to obtain them, significant updating would need to be done. After factoring in the length of the summer season and the money involved with updating, it was decided that Dogwood Hollow would not open for the 1971 season. In spite of the attempts to try and reopen the venue, the area has remained abandoned.

The ruins of the once great venue can still be found in Stony Brook buried under the nature which has once again taken it over.

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