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Candlelight House Tour

The Three Village Historical Society hosted its annual Candlelight House Tour on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of this annual holiday event, the tour featured six locations, which included five residences, each individually decorated by a talented local interior designer, and a rare look inside the Setauket Grist Mill. Participants also had the option of attending an evening reception at the Old Field Club or breakfast at the Stony Brook Yacht Club,

Decked out in holiday splendor, every location welcomed an unprecedented number of visitors and was staffed by a rotation of dedicated volunteers. Though presented through a fresh vision, tours of yesteryear were acknowledged through the inclusion of certain houses that had been previously featured.

Additionally, Eva Glaser and Liz Tyler Carey, who were inaugural event chairs, returned as decorators for one of the homes, which also featured a pop-up holiday boutique consisting of unique gift items. All proceeds from those sales went to the planned restoration of the Dominic Crawford Barn.

The nearly sold out event raised a significant amount of money for the Three Village Historical Society’s Education Fund. Many people gave of their talents, time and services to create the festive fundraiser.

This beloved seasonal tradition would not exist without the generosity of the event chairs, Patty Cain and Patty Yantz, as well as the food and beverage sponsors, homeowners, Three Village Historical Society administrative staff, house chairs, decorators, volunteers, members, supporters and community at large.

All photos by Pam Botway

By Rita J. Egan

The folks at the Three Village Historical Society are busy getting ready for a holiday favorite, their annual Candlelight House Tour scheduled for Dec. 1 and 2. This year the theme will be Visions of East Setauket: Then & Now, and the tours will include five homes on Shore Road in East Setauket and Poquott as well as a stop at the St. James R.C. Church Parish Center. The event provides the opportunity for participants to explore historic homes and properties and enjoy stunning holiday décor.

Steve Healy, president of the historical society, said this will be the 39th year the society is hosting the event, and he looks forward to it every year. “We get a great response, the houses are all different, and it’s a very festive occasion,” he said.

This year’s tour is the sixth one organized by co-chairs Patty Cain, historical society vice president, and Patty Yantz, a former president. Yantz said when it came to this year’s theme the pair were inspired by the book published by the organization, “Then & Now: The Three Villages,” which includes photos of various locations in the area as they looked in the past and how they appear now.

“We always like to highlight our archives and what we’re about,” Yantz said. “We like to take historic areas and look at how it’s developed.”

The tour has been filled with historic homes since its beginnings when decorator Eva Glaser and Mary Lou Mills came up with a way to raise funds for the Setauket Neighborhood House, which was in disrepair at the time. The structure, located at 95 Main Street, was the original home of the Three Village Historical Society’s headquarters.

The major fundraiser for the society, both Cain and Yantz said over the years more and more homeowners have offered their houses to be put on display. While decorators work on each home, many homeowners contribute input when it comes to the decorating.

Cain said she is always looking for homes to include, and when residents offer up their houses for the event, she takes into consideration its historical importance and what other structures are already included. The co-chairs and decorators work for months to prepare for the weekend, and Cain said they always worry if they did enough and if there are an adequate number of volunteers. However, every year the first night proves all the hard work was worth it.

“When it’s 6 o’clock Friday night, and the candles are lit in the houses, and the first guests come in, to me that’s the best part,” Cain said.

For many who participate in the tour, it’s an event that kicks off the holiday season; something Yantz agrees with. “I’m always amazed at how beautifully decorated the homes are,” she said. “That to me is why I just can’t wait to see them. For me personally, it just sets off the whole holiday feeling and brings back childhood memories. It’s inspiring to me,” she said.

Cain said they try to mix older and newer homes on the tour; however, the newer ones must be on historic properties to be included.

Among the homes decorated for this year’s tour will be one on the land known as Tinker Bluff, which is named after the first homeowner Henry Champlin Tinker, who built a summer home overlooking Port Jefferson Harbor in the late 19th century. Another home’s west end is its original mid-1800s structure, while one house sits on a land parcel where its dock attracted Joseph Elberson, proprietor of the once local rubber factory, to buy the property to use it for a transportation line.

“There’s a lot of history here,” Cain said. “The land is history, so you may have new homes on historic land that was once a huge farm or huge shipbuilding company. It’s historic in that respect, and we’re able to bring that history to people that might not know about it.”

Visitors to St. James R.C. Church Parish Center on Route 25A will discover the church’s presepio, a tableau of life in Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth. A unique Italian art form, the scene goes beyond the traditional nativity and fills an entire room.

The Dec. 1 tour includes wine and hors d’oeuvres at each home from 6 to 9 p.m. and ends with a buffet and wine reception at the parish center catered by Express Catering — a branch of Setauket’s Bagel Express — from 9 to 11 p.m. Saturday includes two options of an early breakfast at the Old Field Club in East Setauket and tour or tour only. The Saturday tour ends at 4 p.m.

Tickets for Friday night and the breakfast and tour are sold out, but plenty were available for the Saturday tour at press time. Ticket prices range from $45 to $110 per person. For more information, call 631-751-3730, email info@tvhs.org or visit www.tvhs.org. Tickets may be picked up at the Three Village Historical Society, which is located at 93 North Country Road, Setauket.

Visitors wait to enter one of the homes on the tour. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Patty Yantz and Patty Cain

The Three Village Historical Society hosted its 38th annual Candlelight House Tour last weekend. Titled Visions of Historic Setauket: A Look Back in Time, the event attracted over 1,000 visitors to our little hamlet.

This year’s tour was dedicated to four members who passed away this year, Blanche Tyler Davis, Chuck Glaser, Bruce McCauley and Elaine Stow, each of whom played a vital role within the society.

A living room is decorated for the holidays. Photo by Heidi Sutton
A living room is decorated for the holidays. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Four of the five homes featured in this year’s tour were originally owned by members of the Wells family. The tour served as a history lesson of life as it was around the pond. The ticket contains much history of the area and is a keepsake in itself. We are honored to have the kindness of the wonderful homeowners who opened up their beautiful homes decked out in holiday decor.

Gallery North and the Three Village Historical Society history center added more historical interest to the tour. We are so thankful for our generous sponsors and restaurants, and the numerous volunteers who served as decorators, house chairs, committee chairs, traffic people and docents and our staff who worked hard to make this event come to life. Without their support and generosity the tour would not be possible.

Visitors wait to enter one of the homes on the tour. Photo by Heidi Sutton
Visitors wait to enter one of the homes on the tour. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Candlelight House Tour is the biggest fundraising event held by the society. The proceeds enable the society to continue to preserve local photographs with proceeds benefiting the society’s educational programs.

This year the Friday night tour with a reception at the Old Field Club was in such high demand that for the first time we opened a few tickets to the Friday night tour without the reception. This too proved to be successful. On Saturday people could start the tour with breakfast at the Old Field Club. The food and the views at the site set the tone for a wonderful day. The weather was perfect, the homes were perfect, the location was perfect and everyone who supported this event was perfect!

On behalf of the society, a deep heartfelt THANK YOU for all who helped make this year’s tour the success that it was. It is events like this that makes the Three Village area a wonderful place to live!

Patty Yantz and Patty Cain are the tour co-chairs of this year’s Candlelight Tour.

By Melissa Arnold

It’s hard to live in the Three Village area without noticing the beautiful neighborhoods around us. And it’s easy to fantasize about the ornate period homes. Each year, local residents team up with the Three Village Historical Society to offer visitors from across Long Island a rare, festive peek at a few of them with a Candlelight House Tour. This wonderful event, which will be held on Dec. 2 and 3 this year, has been a mainstay of the North Shore’s holiday season for almost 40 years. But it began as just a simple fundraiser.

 

A scene from last year's Candlelight House Tour. Photo form TVHS
A scene from last year’s Candlelight House Tour. Photo form TVHS

At the end of the 1970s, the Three Village Historical Society was meeting in the Setauket Neighborhood House on Main Street. The building wasn’t in the best shape, however, and members of the society starting brainstorming on ways to repair it. It was Eva Glaser who came up with a unique idea: What if they charged a small fee to take visitors inside the area’s historic homes? Elaborate holiday decorations would make the tours even more interesting, she thought. Those first tours of 1979 were a great success, and the event is now one of the historical society’s biggest annual fundraisers. Proceeds will benefit community and in-school educational programs.

“A lot of people use [the tour] as a kickoff for the holiday season since it’s always the first weekend in December,” said tour co-chair Patty Yantz. “It’s wonderful seeing families all come out together, and then go out to dinner or start their shopping for the holidays. We see people from all generations come together.” The tour features different homes every year, so you’ll never get the same experience twice. The event is so popular that Three Village homeowners are often the first to approach the society to get involved. “People are so generous in their willingness to open up their homes and be a part of the tour. We take time looking at each house on the tour and then look at the elements that they might have in common that could lead to a theme,” Yantz explained.

A scene from a previous Candlelight House Tour. Image from TVHS
A scene from a previous Candlelight House Tour. Photo from TVHS

This year’s theme, Visions of Historic Setauket: A Look Back in Time, will feature five decorated homes. Gallery North and the historical society’s building will be decorated as well. “Setauket has a perfect little historic enclave near the [Frank Melville Memorial] park, and we have a tremendous amount of photos and documents from the area in our archives,” said Patty Cain, also a tour co-chair. “The houses in the tour all circle around the [park’s] pond, which makes it possible for us to have a walking tour this year. We were very lucky.”

The participating homeowners work with volunteer professional decorators to deck the halls for the tour. Afterward, they can keep those decorations to use for years to come, Cain said. She added that Eva Glaser, the inspiration behind the original house tours, will be participating this year. Tour participants have three different times to choose from, each offering a unique experience.

Visitors enjoy a previous Candelight House tour. Image from TVHS
Visitors enjoy a previous Candelight House tour. Photo from TVHS

The darkness of Friday evening makes the lights and luminarias on the tour especially pretty. At each stop, hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served courtesy of local restaurants, followed by a reception at the Old Field Club in Setauket. Those hoping for an early start can take a Saturday morning tour that begins with breakfast at the club. There’s also an option for the tour alone in the afternoon. Each tour allows visitors the freedom to park wherever they’d like, and to visit the homes in any order.

Guides will greet visitors at each home and take them through in small groups to keep the experience intimate. Once inside, there’s a specific path to follow, where guides will explain the special elements of each room. In addition, the tour admission ticket is actually a historical booklet full of information and photos. Yantz said that many families keep these booklets over the years as both a historical record and memento. Admission to the house tour also includes access to SPIES!, an interactive exhibit about the Culper Spy Ring, and the Chicken Hill: A Community Lost in Time exhibit at the historical society, as well as admission to the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, Yantz said. “I think the best part about it is hearing all the wonderful comments from people that come out. There’s never been a complaint on the weekend of the tours, and the joy on people’s faces, seeing people come together, is very special. It’s such a positive force in the community,” she said.

The Three Village Historical Society’s 38th annual Candlelight House Tour will be held the evening of Friday, Dec. 2, and the morning and afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 3. Depending on the option you choose, tickets range from $40 to $100 per person. For more information, please call 631-751-3730, email info@tvhs.org or visit www.tvhs.org.