Early Shibley History Lesson

posted: April 12, 2021By:

Whenever I take a walk around the Shibley grounds I have memories of years gone by.  It has been over 60 years since I first set foot on this spectacular property which is made up of three major parcels.

Historic photo of Shibley events


The white mansion known as Attara was the home of the Willets family back in the pre-camp era.  It was also the first of the major parcels purchased by Jeanne Shibley back in the 1930’s as The Shibley Day Camp.  It also served as her residence until 1985 and as her husband John Bell’s until 1996.  The Attara mansion is now used for camp activities such as dance, tae kwon do and cooking.

Jeanne  Shibley was actually 13 years older than her husband who was a peanut farmer from Windsor, North Carolina.  That age distance was especially rare back in those days.  Jeanne Shibley was originally from Shelby, Tennessee.  Shibley was her middle name which is similar to the name of the town where she grew up. Her actual last name was Snell.  She was a very strong, determined, career minded person when most other women of that time period were homemakers.  It was before the equal rights amendment and only about a decade after the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. She started out as a dancer and then became a dance and etiquette teacher and eventually the founder of Shibley Day Camp.


The next major parcel purchase was that of the junior camp section where the dining room and summer office buildings are located.  That property was originally a farm.  I remember back when I was a camper in the 1960’s, that every morning in the summer we had an assembly in front of the famous Shibley bell and the American flag.  I am pretty sure we all recited the pledge of allegiance each morning before beginning our camp day.  It was the 1960’s and I remember it as a much simpler and innocent time. There was no cable TV, no cell phones and no play dates.  Children grew up at a much slower rate and were able to enjoy childhood and playing outside for a longer period of time.


The third and final purchase was the Taylor estate which is where our winter office is with that incredibly long driveway from Warner Ave.  I always thought that if we could take that long road and shape it into a square, it would be a very large area and would make a great ball field. The caretakers of the grounds also used to live in this building.  I actually lived in this building during my last two years of college at Adelphi University while working part time at camp.  That was my first apartment back in the fall of 1976.


Over 90 years have passed since the beginning of Shibley.  Many generations of children have taken part in the Shibley experience and walked the beautiful grounds.  The Shibley property is unique as it is hidden away from the main roads of a bustling area.  The Shibley property actually spans 2 towns and zip codes, Roslyn and Roslyn Heights.  It is the place to be when you want the feeling of being in the country upstate without having to travel far.  The Shibley trees create the famous Shibley shade which has kept so many children a little cooler during the hot summer months.  The sprawling nature of the property is a one of a kind.   It cannot be classified as a square or rectangular.  The Shibley shape is a work of art created by nature.