Tags Posts tagged with "Restoration"

Restoration

A historic Stony Brook homestead has a massive overhaul in the works.

The Three Village Community Trust recently announced the completion of the long process of securing state grant funding and implementing state requirements for selecting a contractor for this first, exterior phase of restoration of the Hawkins Homestead on Christian Avenue. General contractor Long Hill Carpentry, a North Shore, family-owned firm, will begin work this week, the Trust said.

“The deterioration of the exterior shingles requires total replacement of the siding, but offers an opportunity to upgrade the exterior walls from the outside,” the trust said in a statement. “Shingles will be removed, allowing for inspection and any necessary repair of the wall framing. This will also allow insulation and new electrical wiring to be installed. Replacement of the shingles will follow these infrastructure upgrades.”

The trust also said it was able to locate red cedar shingles that fit the appropriate measurements to replace the existing shingles with the same exposure.

The next phase includes continuing exterior restoration and infrastructure modernization for 21st century residential use. The trust is working on a way to offer teaching workshops in the window and door restoration projects for those seeking to learn skills in historic preservation, the group said.

State grants secured by Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) will fund much of the first and second phases of this restoration project. The trust said it was also prepared for additional expenses for unanticipated needs when undertaking any historic restoration project.

Because of the generous support of the Three Village community, the trust has been able to meet these needs as we wait for the state funds to be processed. Contributions made to the trust’s acquisition and restoration fund make it possible for the work to continue and were greatly appreciated.

Adult glasseye snappers, collected on Cocos Island, Costa Rica, in 1928. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport is home to the largest privately assembled collection of sea specimens from the preatomic era.

Now, thanks to a $135,000 grant from The Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation, the museum is beginning to perform crucial conservation measures on many of those rare specimens. The foundation gave the Vanderbilt  Museum the two-year grant in January. In July, the curatorial staff began working on some of the more than 1,000 wet (preserved in fluid) specimens exhibited on the second floor of the Marine Museum. An additional 600 are on display in the mansion’s Memorial Wing.

Adult glasseye snappers, collected on Cocos Island, Costa Rica, in 1928. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum
Adult glasseye snappers, collected on Cocos Island, Costa Rica, in 1928. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Among the marine life William K. Vanderbilt II found on oceanic collecting expeditions during the early 20th century were 67 new discoveries.  Stephanie Gress, the museum’s director of curatorial services, said the finds — not previously identified — are called “type specimens.” Most of the 40 ocean fish and 27 marine invertebrates have been on loan to the American Museum of Natural History since the 1990s.

Gress said the Gardiner grant is invaluable to the future of the marine collection, as many of the specimens have not been touched since the last major conservation-restoration project in the 1990s. The project is “very time- and labor-intensive,” she said.

“Cracked seals on the specimen jars and containers let in air, which evaporates some of the preservative fluid,” she said. “That exposes fish and other creatures to possible deterioration. Air leaks also make it easy for infections and mold to develop on the specimens.”

Gress said she and her colleagues prepared a manual with step-by-step procedures and careful protocols for working with the specimens. Conservation includes opening the containers, cleaning them, gently treating infected specimens, replacing the fluid (alcohol and water), resealing the containers with fabric tape and melted beeswax and affixing new labels.

Vanderbilt had the museum’s seamless specimen jars and containers custom-made in Germany nearly a century ago, and they are irreplaceable, Gress said.

An intriguing project detail is the creative reuse of the original calligraphy from the 1930s specimen labels. “We took samples of each hand-calligraphed letter to create the alphabet for a typeface for the new labels we’re making,” Gress said. “With the original calligraphy as a model, curatorial assistant Kirsten Amundsen fashioned a nearly identical typeface by using existing, computerized calligraphy pen strokes in accurate proportions,” she added.

The marine collection was the first aspect of what became Vanderbilt’s larger natural history museum. He built the single-story building he called The Hall of Fishes in 1922 and opened it on a limited basis to the public. By the late 1920s, after more oceanic expeditions, his marine collection outgrew its original space. He added a second floor by 1930.

The two largest marine specimens are a 32-foot whale shark — the world’s largest example of fish taxidermy — and a manta ray with a 16.5-foot wingspan. The shark, caught in 1935 and restored in 2008 with a federal Save America’s Treasures grant, is the centerpiece of the habitat animal-dioramas gallery. The ray, which Vanderbilt called the Sea Devil, was caught in 1916 and recast in the late 1990s. It is exhibited prominently on the first floor of the Marine Museum.

“The Vanderbilt [Museum] is the only Long Island destination with a world-class planetarium and natural history collections that rival those at major urban museums,” said Lance Reinheimer, executive director. “In addition to thousands of rare marine specimens, the Vanderbilt collections range from an Egyptian mummy and 18 wild-animal dioramas to ethnographic artifacts from Africa and the South Pacific, fine and decorative arts and centuries-old furnishings.”

Nearly a century after Vanderbilt found those 67 new type specimens, his museum still receives inquiries about some of them. “A marine biology doctoral student contacted me recently about a particular invertebrate, whose common name is the Elegant Coral Crab,” Gress said. “I told him he’d have to call the American Museum of Natural History,” where Vanderbilt’s type specimens are housed.

“Mr. Vanderbilt is credited with the discovery and identification of the first of each of those species,” Gress said. The type specimens were published in editions of the Bulletin of the Vanderbilt Marine Museum, prepared between 1928 and 1938 by scientists Lee Boone and Nicholas Borodin. “Mr. Vanderbilt and his associates had the fun task of naming the new specimens,” she said. “Some were named for his wife, himself or his scientific team.”

Vanderbilt added marine specimens to the second-floor gallery chronologically, she said. When the restoration is complete, the specimens will be put back into the tall display cases in taxonomic order, in which like specimens are exhibited together. In the Invertebrate Room of the museum’s Memorial Wing, wet specimens are arranged by complexity of the organism.

The Vanderbilt marine collection of 13,190 specimens, housed in the Marine Museum, Habitat and Memorial Wing, includes wet and dry specimens and dry marine invertebrates (shells and corals).

For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

‘Northport' by Bob DeSantis

By Melissa Arnold

Nothing defines a Long Island summer more than lazy days at the beach. And even though autumn is settling in now, it’s still easy to imagine the sun on your face and the water lapping at your feet.

Huntington artist Bob DeSantis has made a career of capturing beloved memories on canvas. Now, art enthusiasts of all kinds can imagine themselves in those scenes with an exhibit entitled Being There, currently on view at the Main Art Gallery at the Huntington Public Library.

“Most of my scenic pieces are fairly large, so when you hang them up in your home it’s like looking out your window and seeing, say, Shelter Island. That’s why people buy my paintings — they want to bring those feelings into their homes,” explains DeSantis, 69, who was born in Brooklyn but has spent most of his life on Long Island.

When you see DeSantis’ art for the first time, you might have to do a double take. Many of his paintings are photorealistic — painted in a way that resembles actual photographs.

Art has been a part of DeSantis’ life for almost as long as he can remember — he even listed becoming a professional artist as his future goal in his high school yearbook. He went on to receive an associate’s degree in commercial art from Farmingdale University (now Farmingdale State College) and a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Hofstra University in Hempstead.

‘Donnie Baseball’ by Bob DeSantis
‘Donnie Baseball’ by Bob DeSantis

That varied education enables DeSantis to combine the best practices of both fine art and modern technology, as he works with a combination of oil and acrylic paints as well as an airbrush for a smooth, almost flawless texture.

His lengthy career has included graphic design, commercial and fine art that’s been featured all over the country. His paintings have been displayed in galleries and even on products like phone book covers and light boxes. He also plays several musical instruments and was once a member of the band The Silvertones.

For the past 25 years, he’s worked as an art restorer, helping to correct and repair artwork that’s been damaged through aging or disasters. He has also worked closely with well-known landscape painter Diane Romanello and Civil War artist Mort Kunstler.

While restoration takes up much of his time, DeSantis is always looking for inspiration for his own art.

“I’ll take a ride out to the Hamptons with my camera and if I see something that inspires me, I’ll take photos of it. Then, I might take a photo of a barrel with flowers in it and incorporate that into the scene,” DeSantis explains.

Using the image editing program Photoshop, DeSantis will experiment with combining scenic photos with furniture, people and decorations. Once he’s satisfied with a concept, he’ll paint it on canvas. “I can duplicate anything I see and focus on replicating each little detail exactly, which is what makes it resemble a photograph” he said. “It’s a skill that has served me well, both in restoration and my own artwork.”

While some of DeSantis’ most popular art features Long Island hot spots, he’s also known for his portraits of famous people, particularly athletes.

“Years ago I was working for a company doing sports prints of small children wearing the jersey of a prominent athlete,” he explains, adding that the prints were meant to represent those athletes in their early years. He has done similar work featuring child athletes looking up into the sky at their adult selves.

DeSantis is a loyal Yankees fan, and some of his favorite athletes to paint are the greats from that team, including Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly and Joe DiMaggio, among others.

The exhibit at the library will feature more than 20 of DeSantis’ favorite paintings with a variety of subjects, says Laurene Tesoriero, coordinator of the library’s art gallery.

Tesoriero says that the library hosts a number of art exhibits throughout the year. She’s particularly impressed with how realistic DeSantis’ work is.

“[The scenic art] almost looks like [it’s drawn with] pastels. Everything he does is very interesting and draws people in right away. You feel as though you’re a part of the scene,” she says. “And typically you don’t see a lot of sports art around. It’s so crisp and vivid and I think that has a wide appeal.”

Being There will be on display at the Main Art Gallery at the Huntington Public Library, 338 Main Street, Huntington, through Nov. 22. The exhibit may be seen during regular library hours. Admission is free. For more information, contact Laurene Tesoriero at 631-427-5165, ext. 258, or visit www.myhpl.org.

Learn more about artist Bob DeSantis by searching his name at www.Art.com and www.Giclee.com.

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Photo from Jeff Bressler

The Smithtown Fire Department is in the final stages of having its historic 1935 Mack Ladder Truck fully restored. A Department Restoration Committee has been given the task of having this piece of Long Island history returned to its former glory.

The restoration is not using Fire Department funds or taxpayer dollars for the project. The entire restoration is being funded by the generosity of Smithtown Fire Department members and the general community.

For the second consecutive year the Restoration Committee will host a chicken barbecue at 5 p.m. on Aug. 1, featuring the sounds of South Bound, a popular Long Island country band. Entry is $25 in advance or $30 on the day of the event.

Last year’s event was enthusiastically received with hundreds of music lovers in attendance to enjoy a complete BBQ chicken dinner, hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, beer and wine. The event is held on the scenic Nissequogue River at the department’s River Property, located behind 419 West Main St., Smithtown.

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Historical society launches campaign to restore home by its 300th anniversary in 2020

The William Miller House turned 295 years old over the weekend. The birthday celebration also kicked off the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society’s five-year fundraising initiative to restore the oldest home in Miller Place by its 300th birthday. Photo by Erin Dueñas

By Erin Dueñas

The William Miller House celebrated its 295th birthday on Sunday, complete with balloons, music and even a replica cake of the house. But in spite of the festivities, old age is catching up to the oldest house in Miller Place, which is in need of a long list of repairs and updates.

The house, located on North Country Road in the historic district of Miller Place, is the headquarters of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society. Built in 1720, the house is on the National Register of Historic Places and is significant for the very few changes that have been made to the home’s interior and look over the centuries. The house showcases artifacts ranging from doctor’s equipment and farm tools to children’s toys and furniture from the 1800s.

“It’s a living museum,” said Antoinette Donato, vice president of the society.

Donato said the birthday party was the kickoff to a five-year campaign, which seeks community assistance in order to get the repairs completed in time for the house’s 300th anniversary in 2020.

The society acquired the home in 1979 from the estate of Harry Millard, the last descendant of William Miller, and restored it in the early 1980s.

“We’re working very diligently to get the house up to snuff,” Donato said, noting the house is in desperate need of a new roof as well as repairs to sixteen windows, paint, and doors that need adjusting so that they can open and close properly.

“We need it to be authentically restored,” Donato continued. “It can only be done by skilled craftsmen that have the expertise of historical restoration.”

Society President Gerard Mannarino blows out the birthday cake candles. Photo by Erin Dueñas
Society President Gerard Mannarino blows out the birthday cake candles. Photo by Erin Dueñas

According to society President Gerard Mannarino, who was presented with a proclamation from Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) at the party, estimates for the roof came in close to $20,000, with the least expensive at $18,000. He said that without help from the community, there is a slim chance the society will be able to foot the bill.

“We need people to join the society; it helps us,” Mannarino said. “We are hoping the party will get us exposure to get people interested in us.”

The society is currently constructing a brick pathway, which extends from the street up to the post office on the grounds of the house. Bricks can be purchased for $100 and personalized, and all proceeds benefit the Society.

“My big push is to get 200 families from Miller Place to purchase one of these bricks,” Mannarino said. “That’s the money to fix the roof.”

Mannarino said Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) has been a huge help to the society’s efforts over the years, securing grants that allowed them to continue offering programs to the community.

“She’s our biggest fan,” Mannarino said.

Anker said people need to be motivated to help the society, echoing Mannarino’s goal of getting support from local families.

“We need to prioritize getting these renovations done,” she said.

Donato stressed it is the efforts of the society’s volunteers who deserve credit for getting so much accomplished at the house so far.

“I call them the silent vigilantes — they see that things need to be done and they just do it,” she said. “They understand the importance of the history here.”

One of those volunteers is Miller Place’s Doug Flynn, who saw a loose and splintered board on the porch of the post office and quietly repaired the board and gave the whole porch a fresh coat of paint.

“I enjoy fixing things,” Flynn said. “There is so much to be done here, whatever I can do, I do it.”

Society trustee Margaret Dosher Cibulka chaired the birthday party committee. She said she was pleased with the way the party turned out and noted its importance to the community’s history.

“It was wonderful in all respects,” she said. “The purpose was to acquaint the community with the value of the house.”

“It’s the beginning of Miller Place,” she said. “We need to preserve it so the children realize what a jewel they have in their own community.”

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