History

The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will host a Family Drop-In Day on Wednesday, April 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Families are invited to join educators for activities in the Nassakaeg One-Room Schoolhouse and the Walt Whitman’s Arcadia exhibit in the Art Museum. Admission is free and reservations are not required. For more information, call 631-751-0066, ext. 212.

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The home of Capt. Joseph Swift and Capt. Charles B. Tyler families, circa 1900. Tyler died in 1899; his wife, Eliza, died in 1924. The house and property now belong to the Three Village Community Trust. Photo from Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

The date was Saturday, Feb. 19, 1848. The day began cold and clear but pleasant with no wind and a frost on the ground early. The weather had been about the same for the week before. (From the diary of Henry Hudson, 1791-1877.)

In the family room of a large farmhouse, two sisters — Eliza, age 15, and Mary, age 14, the eldest children of Capt. Joseph Swift and his wife, Amelia — were sitting at a table in front of the fireplace. Their five younger siblings — Cynthia, 11, William, 8, Ellen, 6, George, 4, and Harriet, 2 — were sitting closer to the warmth from the fireplace entertaining each other with games and storybooks. Eliza, Mary and their mother had been up just before dawn, as they were every day on their small six-acre farm, tending the animals and preparing breakfast. Their father had been away for a time sailing his cargo schooner along the Atlantic Coast. With the morning chores completed, Eliza and Mary placed their small portable writing desk on the table and prepared to write a letter to their aunt and uncle in New York City.

A recently discovered letter, on light blue paper, written in ink now faded to a light brown, was discovered in Tyler family papers. Both Mary and Eliza wrote the letter. Mary writing to their aunt Mary Bacon Stoney and then Eliza continuing with her own writing to their Uncle Henry Stoney. Mary wrote, “As I have a few moments I will devote it to the pleasure of writing to you although I have some melancholy news to write. The family are all well with the exceptions of Ellen who has been sick with the scarlet rash but is now much recovered. We have nothing from father since Aunt Mary left … ”

Mary continued the letter with details about the valentines the two girls received and how easy it was to figure out who sent them. Then she told her aunt the news. “Setauket is quite sickly. In less than ten days there have been five deaths. Hannah Howell, the young girl who went to school with Eliza died on Saturday with the Typhus fever. Mrs. Archibald Jayne died on Monday with the quincy after an illness of only ten days … Mr. Archibald died on Wednesday after being sick only three days with the pleurisy … Their funerals [at Setauket’s Caroline Church] were very large. Uncle William [Bacon] supposed there were 400 people there and more than 50 carriages and wagons. A great many aged people said they never saw such a sight before in a country place. Isaac Brewster died on Thursday morning with the consumption … Solomon Smith died about a week ago … Eliza will finish this sheet. Please give my love to grandmother [Cynthia Halsey Bacon], Uncle Henry and Ellen Fulton. Your affectionate niece Mary Swift.”

Henry Hudson, in his diary for 1848 also mentioned the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Jayne. “Monday Feb 28th 1848 … I hear yesterday that Archibald Jayne and wife both of them were buried in a day — Isaac Brewster too … I have fifteen scholars …” At the time Hudson, who lived in Setauket, was teaching school in Wading River, having walked there to begin the quarter.

Eliza continued the letter writing to her uncle, telling more about one of the valentines she received and the fact that her Aunt Eliza, possibly her father’s sister, was living with them and had a room upstairs. As there were just three bedrooms upstairs for at least two adults and seven children, it was quite different from sleeping arrangements for most families today. Eliza continued her letter with details on more family members, two weddings and the arrival back home of “Mr. Mills’s son,” who had been with Capt. Swift.

Eliza, my great-grandmother, married Capt. Charles B. Tyler in January 1851, at the age of 18. The couple joined the Swift household, and sometime before Capt. Swift died in 1860 at the age of 48, they purchased the home and farm. By 1870, my widowed great-great-grandmother Amelia Bacon Swift was living in East Setauket with her youngest son Joseph, age 24.

Mary, my great-grandaunt, married Capt. Benjamin Jones before March 19, 1858, and voyaged with him to China and Japan in the bark Mary and Louisa, built by her uncle William Bacon in his shipyard in East Setauket. They left New York’s South Street Seaport in September 1858. Mary’s letters home to her sister Eliza and her sister-in-law Ellen Jones Jayne are a wonderful glimpse into her life at sea and in China and Japan. They arrived back in New York in September 1861. Mary, by then seriously ill with consumption, died in October 1861 at the age of 26. She is buried in the Setauket Presbyterian Cemetery.

Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

Stony Brook Grist Mill

The Stony Brook Grist Mill, circa 1751, 100 Harbor Road, Stony Brook opens for the season on Saturday, April 13 and will be open weekends from noon to 4:30 p.m. through Oct. 31.

Long Island’s most completely equipped working mill, it is listed on the National and New York State Register of Historic Places. Visit the Country Store and watch the only female miller in the U.S. grind grain into flour just as it was done during the Revolutionary War.

Admission is $2 adults, $1 children 12 and under. For additional info, call 631-751-2244.

File photo

The Rocky Point Historical Society’s Noah Hallock Homestead is officially open for tours every Saturday  from 1 to 3 p.m. April through December.

Take a trip back in time with a visit to the Noah Hallock Homestead, at 172 Hallock Landing Road in Rocky Point hosted by trained docents. The house was built in 1721 when Noah Hallock and Bethia Youngs were married in November of that year and made Rocky Point their home. Three of their sons and three of their grandsons served as soldiers and patriots in the Revolutionary War.  Noah and Bethia’s descendants lived in the Homestead and worked the farm for eight generations, through the next century and on to a good part of the twentieth century.  At one time the Hallock family owned much of the land in Rocky Point.

The house has a gable roof wing on the west and 3 bay and the original wood shingles attest to their care through the centuries.  In the mid nineteenth century Greek Revival details were added, such as the entrance containing sidelights, transom and paneled front door. The old metal roof is unique and in excellent condition for its age. The house is a showplace of original furniture, artifacts, farm equipment and archival photographs.  It depicts life in Rocky Point from the early 18th century thru the 20th century with the establishment of RCA Radio Central, the world’s largest transmitting station from 1921-1978.

For group tours and more information, call 631-744-1776.

 

BJ Intini and Lois Reboli of the Reboli Center accept the Community Recognition Award with presenter Beverly C. Tyler

CELEBRATING THE THREE VILLAGE COMMUNITY

The Three Village Historical Society held its 42nd annual Awards Celebration at the Three Village Inn in Stony Brook on March 27. The evening recognized volunteers, local businesses, society members and area residents who have made significant contributions to help preserve the shared heritage within the Three Village area. Honored guests included the Setauket Harbor Task Force, Michael Tessler, Leah S. Dunaief, Patricia Yantz, Morton Rosen, Steven G. Fontana, the Reboli Center for Art and History, Maura and Matthew Dunn of The Holly Tree House, Marcia Seaman and the Prestia family of Bagel Express. Legislator Kara Hahn and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright also attended to honor the winners.

All photos by Beverly C. Tyler

Emma Clark Library, 120 Main St., Setauket will host a lecture titled “The Genealogy of Historical Architectural Styles in the Three Villages: Rationalism, Romanticism and the Vernacular” on Monday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Joseph Betz

Guest speaker will be Joseph Betz, an architect, professor and former chairman of the Department of Architecture & Construction Management at Farmingdale State College. Betz has served the public as a member of the Town of Brookhaven Planning Board and is currently a member of the Historic District Advisory Committee.

The question of, “What style do we build in?” first began in the 18th century as part of a transformation of consciousness that occurred in the Enlightenment. These styles can be grouped into two main categories: rationalism and romanticism. The first reflects a new rational philosophy of science and democracy, with its origins in Greek thought, while the other reflects a romantic escape into the past and has an emotional attachment with the good old days, religion and a fear of change. Both categories are influenced by local building traditions and forms.

The evening will examine the many historical architectural styles in the Three Villages and place them into these two main conceptual categories, giving the participant an easy way to identify and understand the meaning of these buildings.

Co-sponsored by Three Village Historical Society and Three Village Civic Association, the presentation will give an appreciation for the historic districts in the Town of Brookhaven and why these districts should be preserved as a learning environment for future generations.

Free and open to all. No registration necessary. For more information, call 631-941-4080.

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The Tinker home that once stood in Poquott. Photo from the Three Village Historical Society archives.

A suffragist and philanthropist, who summered in the Village of Poquott, continues to help women nearly 100 years after her death.

Annie Rensselaer Tinker was the daughter of banker Henry Tinker, who bought a mansion in the Village of Poquott in the late 1800s, according to the village’s historian Christoper Ryon. Despite her death in 1924, just short of her 40th birthday, Annie Tinker’s inheritance from her father in 1914 would go on to establish a charity to aid retired women who no longer had adequate means of support.

“She died early, but she had a very rich life,” Ryon said.

Annie Tinker, shown right with a friend, was an accomplished equestrian. Photo from the John and Betty Evans Collection

Tinker, who was born in 1884, spent her younger years in Poquott swimming, sailing and horseback riding and went on to be a champion for women. She became a suffragist, Ryon said, and Tinker, an accomplished equestrian, formed and trained a women’s cavalry in 1911 that protected other suffragists when they participated in parades.

Tinker enlisted in the British Red Cross during World War I, according to Ryon. During her time giving aid to soldiers on the front lines, her father died and left the Poquott home to her. After World War I, she decided to stay in Paris, and in 1924, died due to complications from tonsillitis surgery in London.

Catherine Tinker, who is not a descendant of the Poquott family, has done extensive research on Annie Tinker’s life. She believes the suffragist saw the horrors of World War I when she was a member of the Red Cross on the front lines in Belgium, France and Italy.

“I think she was truly independent and could have lived a life of luxury in any way she chose, but she put herself in service of others and had this compassion for the fight for women’s right to vote, to nurse the wounded during World War I in Europe and to leave her money to help older working women who could no longer work for a living,” Catherine Tinker said. “That’s kind of amazing.”

A charity first called the Annie R. Tinker Memorial Home was established in 1924 shortly after Tinker’s death following wishes detailed in her will. In later years the name was changed to the Annie Tinker Association for Women Inc., according to Tinker, a former president and CEO of the foundation. The charity operated out of an office in Manhattan until 2018 when it was dissolved.

The mission of the organization was to provide small monthly stipends to retired women who applied for grants so they could remain in their homes. In 2017, the foundation provided assistance to 25 women, according to Tinker.

The former foundation president said last year the board of trustees decided to dissolve the foundation, and the remaining assets were donated to similar charities while the bulk of the money was transferred to the New York Community Trust, which created a new fund named the Annie Rensselaer Tinker Fund. The intent of the new fund is to support projects and policies that maintain the independence and dignity of aging women in New York. Tinker said the hope is that the general projects through the trust will help more women.

“It should go on in perpetuity, so the legacy of Annie Tinker is there,”
she said.

Tinker said Annie Tinker had hoped the Poquott home would one day be a retreat for older women; however, it eventually was inherited by her brother after a long probate case. While Tinker had bequeathed her estate to her friend Kate Darling Nelson with the property being donated to the charity for retired women, her mother fought for half of her daughter’s money and won. However, her friend still inherited half of the fortune and established the charity as Annie Tinker wished.

Through the decades the foundation helped women who lived alone and may not have had the support of family, Catherine Tinker said. She said women who received funds from the foundation were encouraged to mingle with each other with book clubs, holiday and tea parties, which many times the board members would attend, and the get-togethers formed what she called a “Tinker family.” The former CEO said many of the women enjoyed careers as artists and didn’t have pensions or substantial Social Security payments. During her days as a suffragist, Annie Tinker had met many female artists from Gramercy Park.

“When the foundation really tried to reach out to women artists, I think that was natural, because I think they were women Annie herself would have liked to help,” Tinker said.

For more information about Annie Tinker, visit https://lihj.cc.stonybrook.edu/#articles_4692 for a Long Island History Journal article written by Catherine Tinker.

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The Ebo Hill mansion is returning to its former glory after a devastating fire burned it to its studs last year. Photo from Facebook

Last year a pizzeria owner never would have imagined that his love for an old mansion would take him from hope, to devastation, and back to hope.

It was March 26 last year when Ebo Hill, a nearly 175-year-old three-story mansion on Edgewood Avenue in Smithtown, burned to its studs. Owner Richard Albano bought the house just a few weeks before with the hopes of restoring it to its former glory. Hundreds of firefighters from Smithtown Fire Department as well as surrounding areas were on the scene to fight the fire.

A fire started inside a second-floor wall next to the fireplace in Ebo Hill March 26. Photo by Laura Johanson

A year later, Albano said, at times, he’ll be driving at night down Edgewood and feels he can still see the flames.

“In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday, and sometimes it feels like it was decades ago,” he said.

Fire inspectors found that the fire started inside a second-floor wall next to the fireplace, which had been in use earlier that day. Albano said floor beams were about a foot into the chimney for support and over the years the mortar decayed, which allowed the heat to get to the beams and start the fire.

The homeowner, formerly of Deer Park and owner of Richie’s Pizza in both Deer Park and Commack, was looking for a new house when he stumbled upon Ebo Hill, a home that included 17 bedrooms, two kitchens, a ballroom and numerous bathrooms. The house, which hadn’t been occupied since 2001, belonged to descendants of Smithtown founder Richard Smythe for generations and was once the starting point for the town’s fox hunts.

While he could have sold the property after the fire, Albano said he didn’t give up hope in living in his dream home. With the house’s 1908 floor plans in hand — found by his fiancé at the Smithtown Library — he decided he would replicate the mansion.

Albano said he is grateful for the mild winter, which created favorable conditions for construction. The outside of the home should be completed in the next month, and he’s hoping the landscaping and driveway will be done in the middle or end of May. The HVAC system is already done, and the electricity and plumbing will be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Albano said the home was once moved back on the property, and he rebuilt it 125 feet forward from the original location, which has given him 200 feet of backyard and more than 200 feet of front yard, which has also made the house more centrally located on the property.

Smithtown Historical Society historian Brad Harris said when he first heard of the fire last year he thought history was lost.

“I figured that was the end of it,” Harris said.

The remains of Ebo Hill mansion after the March 26 fire. Photo by Rita J. Egan

However, after meeting with Albano he realized the homeowner had a deep appreciation for its history, and the historian thinks he’s doing a good job in replicating the mansion.

Albano said during his journey with Ebo Hill, besides meeting with Harris, people who have lived in the neighborhood for decades and others who lived in the home have shared their stories with him. With an appreciation of the property’s history, Albano salvaged anything he could from the rubble left behind after the fire. He said steel beams that were still standing after the fire will be incorporated into items such as a table. Flooring from a room he called the ballroom will be used for a closet floor. Also, he had a needlepoint of a Christian hymnal verse and the original weather vane in a storage unit.

“I just want to use as much as possible out of the home,” he said.

Albano said he has been overwhelmed with the support he’s received from the community. As soon as news of the fire broke, social media began buzzing and many who belong to the Facebook page he created to document the renovation of the mansion encouraged him to replicate the structure.

“I’m just amazed at how supportive a community can be,” he said, adding Town of Smithtown officials from Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) to the building department, inspectors and engineering department also have been a big help to him.

“Everybody wants to see the home rebuilt, and I will replicate it the best I can,” he said.

Michal Frankowski, an IT worker who is currently starting a construction company, has worked with Albano on the house since last year. He said when he first saw the remains of the mansion he was surprised that the homeowner was planning to restore it.

“He really loves that place, the whole lot,” Frankowski said. “That old mansion, he just really wants to show the people a replica of it, and I admire him for it.”

He said Albano hasn’t seemed stressed at all, even though he’s sure he is, but he keeps things under control. Frankowski, who recently moved to Kings Park from Bushwick, said he wasn’t too familiar with the history of the mansion but is looking forward to learning more about it in the future.

“That place is magical,” Frankowski said. “Just walking around it. I don’t know there’s something in there. Something in it that has really good energy. I’m really looking forward to it being done.”

While reconstructing the house was a financial undertaking that Albano wasn’t prepared for, the homeowner said he’s a passionate person who isn’t afraid to take on a big project.

“I fell in love with the home,” he said. “It’s tough to rationalize what you should do when you’re in love with something like I am with this home.”

Albano said he is looking forward to sharing his love for the mansion with residents after construction and before he moves in by opening the house to the public for one day. For updates of the Ebo Hill mansion construction, visit The Mansion at Ebo Hill Facebook page.

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A typical home and farm of settlers in Setauket about 1665. From the book, ‘Discover Setauket, Brookhaven’s Original Settlement,’ by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

Part one of two.

I have always been interested in discovering the history of our ancestors, the stories of the people in our families who came before us. I wanted to learn about where they came from and why they left the places they lived and came to America. The more I learned, the more curious I became.

I also wanted to find out more about the people, places and events that surrounded their lives. In the cartoon “Peanuts,” Sally, Charlie Brown’s sister, once said, “I don’t know much about the past, I wasn’t there.”

“I enjoy learning about the past by searching through the records left by the people who were there.”

— Beverly C. Tyler

I enjoy learning about the past by searching through the records left by the people who were there. I enjoy putting together the pieces of our families’ history and telling their stories. I hope you will enjoy their stories, too, as shared with my grandchildren.

Two of Setauket’s early settlers, the Rev. Nathaniel Brewster, your ninth great-grandfather on your grandmother’s side, and William Jayne, your eighth great-grandfather on your grandfather’s side — my sixth great-grandfather — were both born in the port city of Bristol, in South West England. Their family lines have crisscrossed through British and Setauket history for more than 300 years. Their stories show how the actions of kings and rulers in England helped to shape the early history of Setauket and the Town of Brookhaven.

Brewster accepted a call to be the first minister of the new settlement at Setauket in 1665. The settlement was only 10 years old and had about 30 families — the minimum they felt was necessary to support calling a minister. I know he came here then because the Town of Brookhaven records for that year indicate that a Setauket resident named Mathew Prior sold his home and property, including his young apple and other fruit trees, to the officers of the town for the minister’s accommodation.

Some 10 years later, William Jayne together with 11 other families, came to Setauket from New Haven, Connecticut. Land was being opened up here for settlement, and they all received home lots and were welcomed into the growing community.

Brewster’s grandfather, Francis the elder, was the resident steward of Bristol Castle for Sir John Stafford, a knight and leader of the city of Bristol. His son, the young Francis, served as an apprentice to a barber surgeon and was admitted to the guild of surgeons around the same time he was married. The first child of young Francis with wife Lucy was Nathaniel. When Stafford died, King Charles I leased Bristol Castle directly to Brewster the elder. The son, Dr. Francis Brewster, wife Lucy and their family were also living inside the castle grounds. After the elder Brewster died, the castle was sold to the city of Bristol. Three years later, in 1637, Dr. Brewster and his family left London with the Davenport party on the ship Hector bound for Boston and eventual settlement in the colony of New Haven.

After the family arrived, Nathaniel Brewster was admitted to Harvard College. On the 1641 list of New Haven families, Francis Brewster is listed as having a family of nine and an estate worth 1,000 pounds. The only wealthier settler was the governor, Theophilus Eaton.

In 1642, Nathaniel Brewster graduated from Harvard together with eight other “young gentlemen,” the first graduating class from the first American college. In 1647, Francis Brewster was lost at sea when a ship in which he had a financial interest went down while on a voyage to England.

In England in 1649, King Charles I was executed and Oliver Cromwell came to power. Cromwell was a fanatical Puritan, and his influence was spread well beyond the borders of Britain — England, Ireland and Scotland. These events may have had a great influence on the young Rev. Nathaniel Brewster, a minister in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts. About 1650, Brewster returned to England and served as minister of various churches in Norfolk, East Anglia, on England’s east coast. He was married after 1650 to a daughter of John Reymes of Edgefield, Norfolk, and they had two children, Abigail, born about 1655, and Sarah, born in 1656.

Cromwell took the oath as lord protector of the Commonwealth of England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland in December 1653. He made Presbyterianism the national religion, and he purged the Anglican bishops while at the same time promoting a new freedom of worship. If you think it is strange to have freedom of religion and at the same time have a national-sponsored religion, you are right. It happened here, too, when the pilgrims in Plymouth Colony and the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony kicked Roger Williams out for practicing his own form of religion.

“What do you think? These two men meet in Setauket. Is it the first time or had they known each other before?”

— Beverly C. Tyler

In 1655, the Rev. Nathaniel Brewster made a trip to Ireland in the company of Henry Cromwell, fourth son of Oliver Cromwell. Brewster also served for a time as minister of Christ Church, Dublin, Ireland. When Oliver Cromwell died of malaria and typhoid fever in London in September 1658, his son Richard tried to carry on as lord protector, but was forced to resign in May 1659. In 1660, Charles II, who had fled England after his father’s execution, was proclaimed king. Suddenly Presbyterianism was no longer the national religion of England, the Anglican Church was restored to power, and the harassment of the nonconformists — anyone not belonging to the Anglican Church — started again. Brewster fled back to America. He came to Boston where he preached for several months at the First Church in Boston. I’ll bet he was glad to get safely out of England.

About the same time that Brewster left England, another nonconformist, William de Jeanne, came to America to escape persecution. When he arrived in New England, he changed his name to Jayne to hide his identity. The lives of these two Englishmen from Bristol were about to cross again. Jayne had been born Jan. 25, 1618. He was the son of Henry de Jeanne, a lecturer of theology and divinity at Oxford University. Jayne was admitted to Oxford but was expelled as a dissenter. He became a Presbyterian preacher, eventually joined Oliver Cromwell’s army and was appointed as one of Cromwell’s chaplains. After the restoration of King Charles II, Jayne fled from England.

Leaving England must not have been easy for Jayne. He left behind a wife and three sons. We don’t know his family’s situation or why he emigrated alone, but his three sons could have easily been in their 20s. He shows up in American records when he is married to Anna Beggs in 1674 in New Haven, Connecticut. The next year the couple moved to the Setauket settlement. It is most likely that Brewster encouraged Jayne to move from New Haven to Setauket.

What do you think? These two men meet in Setauket. Is it the first time or had they known each other before?

Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

Mort Rosen, pictured at last year’s Spirits Tour, will be bestowed the Gayle Becher Memorial Award. Photo by Anthony White

By Donna Newman

On Wednesday, March 27, the Three Village Historical Society will host its 42nd annual Awards Dinner honoring volunteers, local businesses, society members, area residents and youngsters who have made significant contributions helping to preserve the shared heritage within the Three Village area. 

After four decades, one might wonder if it is getting more difficult to find honorees, especially because a person may only be honored once in a given category. TVHS President Steve Healy said it wasn’t a problem. 

“You would think that,” Healy said, “but it’s not difficult to find honorees. The Three Village area is packed with people who help others and contribute to their community. We are truly blessed. The society has just over 450 members … and we run more than 30 events and functions per year that bring in new volunteers and first-time attendees. Our membership grows organically through these events.”

Steven Fontana is this year’s recipient of the R. Sherman Mills Young Historian Award. Photo by Anthony White

Nominations come from TVHS members as well as the general public. Awards are given in a variety of areas, from significant contributions to the preservation and conservation of our natural environment, to fostering interest in local history, to the advancement of quality of life and pride of place, to dedicated service and generosity of volunteer time.

Nearly 30 nominations were received, according to Janette Handley, co-chair of the Awards Committee. She noted that the Robert Cushman Murphy Memorial Award, inaugurated in 1987, has only been bestowed 10 times.  

“That’s the award that we find difficult to give out,” Handley said. “We’re very careful to whom we give that award.” 

As described on the awards dinner invitation, it is made “in recognition of significant contributions to the preservation and conservation of our natural environment and to the fostering of a personal identification with the natural heritage of the Three Villages.”

It will be awarded this year to the Setauket Harbor Task Force, formed with the goal of improving water quality in Setauket Harbor, and whose members have held three Setauket Harbor Days to raise awareness for that endeavor.  

TBR’s own Michael Tessler will receive the Kate Wheeler Strong Memorial Award for his creation – together with TBR News Media – of the film “One Life to Give.” This historical re-enactment of little known events during the American Revolution does much to publicize the important role played by area residents. Handley spoke of how pleased Tessler was to receive the notification email.

“Not having a current address, we emailed him,” Handley said. “He’s in California. We got a wonderful email back saying he’s very sorry he can’t come, but he would like to do a video ‘Thank You.’ That’s the first time we’ve had anything like that.” 

“Though I’m far away living in Los Angeles, the spirit of Setauket and its citizen spies remain a guiding compass on my own personal journey to preserve history through multiplatform storytelling,” said Tessler.

According to the Awards Committee report, the TVHS Community Award, when bestowed, is “in appreciation of valuable contributions to the advancement of the quality of life in the Three Villages and the fostering of pride in the rich historical heritage of our homes and lands.” This year it will go to Leah Dunaief, publisher of TBR News Media, but Handley clarified that the recipient is the individual, apart from the position she holds. 

“Leah has received many awards on behalf of the paper, but this award is not for the paper. Leah is still there – and expanding,” said Handley. “She’s involved in so many things, and we feel very strongly that this award is for her.” 

The Maggie Gillie Memorial Award goes to a society member. This year Patty Yantz will be recognized for her many years of service. Yantz has held the offices of president and vice president, and has co-chaired the society’s biggest annual fundraiser – the Candlelight House Tour – for the last five years. 

The Gayle Becher Memorial Award goes to a volunteer. It will honor Morton Rosen for his generosity of spirit, taking part in many society events over the years, including the annual Spirits Tour, where he has enacted at least 11 historical figures. 

“The award is especially meaningful to me,” Rosen said, “because [my wife] Bernice and I worked with Gayle when she organized the Discovery Camp Days program of summer activities for children.”  

Steven Fontana, a sophomore at Ward Melville High School, is this year’s honoree for the R. Sherman Mills Young Historian Award, presented for contributions to the society by a young person. Steven has assisted with traffic flow at many society events over the past four years.

Four community award certificates will be handed out as well. 

The first, for repurposing a building used as a commercial structure in a way that contributes to the historic beauty of the area, will be awarded to The Reboli Center, 64 Main St., Stony Brook for the conversion of a historic bank building to a community center for the enjoyment of art and history. 

The second, for house restoration or renovation and preservation in keeping with original architectural integrity, will be awarded to Maura and Matthew Dunn for their home, The Holly Tree House, at 246 Christian Ave. in Stony Brook. 

The third award, the President’s Volunteer Certificate, goes to Marcia Seaman for her dedication to her volunteer bookkeeping position at the society for the past five years. 

The fourth, a Special Community Service Award, will go to David Prestia and his family, owners of Bagel Express and Express Catering in East Setauket, for their generous donations of food for many society events over the years. 

The Awards Dinner will be held at the Three Village Inn, 150 Main St., Stony Brook from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 27. A three-course dinner will be served, including a Caesar salad with rosemary focaccia croutons, choice of entree (pan-seared salmon with baby spinach and beurre blanc sauce, seared breast of free-range chicken with haricots verts and saffron potatoes or sliced Chateau steak with red wine sauce with Yukon Gold potato puree and baby carrots) and an apple crumb tartlet with whipped cream for dessert. The evening will feature a cash bar and eight raffle prizes. 

Please join TVHS in honoring these worthy awardees. Tickets are $65 per person, $60 members. To order, visit www.TVHS.org or call 631-751-3730.

 

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