Tags Posts tagged with "St. James General Store"

St. James General Store

by -
0 854
A look inside the St. James General Store. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Residents’ outcry over Suffolk County’s shortchanging of St. James General Store was met with an immediate reaction.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) made an internal budget transfer Jan. 23 to reallocate $100,000 from the Parks Department’s line for staffing to the funds for operation of St. James General Store, making good on his office’s promise to make the historic landmark whole.

“The hotel/motel tax came in better than we expected,” Eric Naughton, Suffolk’s budget director said. “We felt we could move $100,000 without impacting our operations.”

Alarm swept through the St. James community, residents and the store’s supporters last week after it was brought to light that the iconic store had its funding reduced by nearly 80 percent under the county’s adopted 2019 operating budget. Backers of the shop were concerned about its ability to keep its shelves stocked and continue operations.

“This is something that is near and dear to all of our hearts,” said Kerry Maher-Weisse, president of the Community Association of Greater St. James. “It’s a landmark that was the original post office of St. James. It’s such a huge part of our town that people come from all over to come to this place.”

Bellone only set aside $29,129 for the general store to purchase items for resale in 2019, down from a 2018 budget of $125,000. These funds were expected to stock the shelves of both the store and the Big Duck gift shop in Flanders, which is overseen by the same county staff. Naughton admitted the lowered funds would have only been sufficient through mid- to late spring.

Funding for the St. James General Store is taken from the proceeds of Suffolk’s hotel/motel tax, according to Naughton, which places a 3 percent occupancy tax on individuals renting rooms or lodging within the county that took effect in 2014.

Naughton said part of the reason the internal transfer was done is that the county executive did not want to delay funding to St. James General Store, which generally turns a profit for the county. Suffolk Legislature is expected to review and vote on allocation of the 2018 hotel/motel at its Feb. 13 general meeting for various organizations. To wait till then would have left St. James community wondering about the future fate of the landmark for an additional three weeks.

A look inside the St. James General Store. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

The St. James General Store is one of the longest continuously operating stores in the country, selling homemade goods and treats to visitors since 1857. Now, there is uncertainty and fear that its future is in danger.

Suffolk County, which operates the shop as a historic site under the Parks Department, has reduced its funding of the landmark by nearly 80 percent under the county’s adopted 2019 operating budget. St. James residents and supporters of the general store are concerned about its ability to keep its shelves stocked and continue operations.

“It’s a landmark that was the original post office of St. James. It’s such a huge part of our town that people come from all over to come to this place.”

— Kerry Maher-Weisse

“This is something that is near and dear to all of our hearts,” said Kerry Maher-Weisse, president of the Community Association of Greater St. James. “It’s a landmark that was the original post office of St. James. It’s such a huge part of our town that people come from all over to come to this place.”

Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone (D) only set aside $29,129 for the general store to purchase items for resale, down from a 2018 budget of $125,000. These funds are expected to stock the shelves of both the store and the Big Duck gift shop in Flanders, which is overseen by the same county staff.

“In 2018, the county had extra money left over from prior years and was able to appropriate additional funds to parks [including the stores],” Eric Naughton, the county’s budget director, said.

Despite the slashing of the stores budget, Suffolk’s lawmakers generally agree the St. James and Big Duck shops are moneymakers for the county. The stores turned over a profit of approximately $400,000 in 2018, which was returned to Suffolk’s general fund.

“As it does make money, it is in our best interest to increase its funding,” Naughton said.

As it does make money, it is in our best interest to increase its funding.”

— Eric Naughton

St. James resident Scott Posner, president of neighboring Deepwells Farm Historical Society, is familiar firsthand with the county’s fiscal issues. Roughly 14 years ago, the county walked away from running Deepwells for “budgetary reasons,” and he was part of a group there to continue to ensure the site’s operations. Posner said he’s ready to advocate for the general store.

“What we’re doing right now is making sure the county corrects its funding,” he said. “What we really need to do is lean on the county.”

Funding for the St. James General Store is taken from the proceeds of Suffolk’s hotel/motel tax, according to Naughton, which places a 3 percent occupancy tax on individuals renting rooms or lodging within the county. The budget director said once the tax is collected from businesses for last year and he’s able to reconcile the 2018 proceeds, there should be additional funding available to allocate to St. James General Store, Big Duck gift shop and the parks.

“I think we will be able to return it to the same level of funding,” Naughton said.

It is a living part of the past. It would be a shame to see it defunded.”

— Bev Tyler

Any additional funding recommended by the Suffolk executive’s office would need to go before the county Legislature for a vote and its approval before being appropriated. In the meanwhile, the county and the general store’s supporters agree the store’s limited budget will be enough to get it through the spring.

“The St. James General Store is one of the treasures of Suffolk County,” Bev Tyler, Three Village Historical Society historian said. “It is a living part of the past. It would be a shame to see it defunded.”

County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), whose district covers St. James, said he will advocate for the store: “The oldest store in the country has survived the hurricanes, suburban sprawl, the Civil War and the Great Depression,” but not the county’s mismanagement.

Editor’s Note: The last name of Bev Tyler, Three Village Historical Society historian, was changed to its proper spelling. 

by -
0 638
Three Village Historical Society office manager Sandy White helps a customer at the society’s History Center & Gift Shop. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

There are plenty of places in the historic Three Village community and surrounding areas that give a sense of place. The upcoming Christmas and winter holiday are good times to purchase a few of the wonderful gifts and books about the local area and to pay a relaxing visit to a few not-for-profit shops that deserve special support.

Three Village Historical Society History Center & Gift Shop, 93 North Country Road, Setauket

The society’s gift shop is expanded to complement the exhibit SPIES! How a Group of Long Island Patriots Helped George Washington Win the Revolution. There you will find gifts including many books, booklets and pamphlets on local history. A new children’s book “Kayleigh and Connor Detectives Inc. and King the Spy Dog” is written and illustrated by Dana Lynn Zotter. Two youngsters visiting their grandfather in Stony Brook discover an abandoned gravestone for a dog and learn about the Culper Spy Ring as they search for the black dog they think is a ghost. Another wonderful book for children is “I Survived the American Revolution, 1776” by Lauren Tarshis, illustrated by Scott Dawson and published by Scholastic Inc. This is the best book for youth I’ve ever read on the Battle of Brooklyn. Here we follow a young boy who is caught up in the battle. Both of these books are thoroughly researched, well-written and illustrated. The gift shop is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the gift shop and exhibits are open every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. (Closed from Dec. 20 to Jan. 2.) For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.threevillagehistoricalsociety.org.

Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket

Gallery North is diagonally across the street from the historical society. It is easy to park at one and walk across the street to the other. The entire gallery is a gift shop with many wonderful paintings and gift pieces by local artists for sale. The current exhibit is Deck the Halls. Local artists and artisans have created beautiful paintings, drawings, handmade jewelry, pottery, glass, decorations and much more. Gallery North also is showcasing a diverse range of Long Island art and has Holiday POP-UP Shopping. On Thursdays, Dec. 13 and 20, from 4 to 7 p.m., join them for a glass of wine and refreshment while you meet the artists and shop. Each Thursday evening a different selection of artists and artisans will be offering their handcrafted gifts, jewelry, art and more.

Gallery North is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Deck the Halls exhibit through Dec 22. For more information, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.

The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook

The gift shop in the Visitors Center includes books and prints on The Long Island Museum’s exhibits and permanent collections. There are also jewelry, pottery and hand-blown glass items made by local artists as well as hand-turned wood items by local artist Harry Wicks. The Visitors Center includes children’s Revolutionary War era gift items. The current exhibition, Elias Pelletreau: Long Island Silversmith & Entrepreneur, will close Dec. 30, along with the companion exhibition Shaping Silver: Contemporary Metalsmithing. The museum, Visitors Center and gift shop are open Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 pm. (Closed Dec. 24 and 25 and Jan.1.) Visit www. longislandmuseum.org for more information.

Reboli Center, 64 Main St., Stony Brook

The Reboli Center has a large collection of wonderful paintings by Joe Reboli. Around the Reboli Center are four sculptures by Long Island artist/sculptor David Haussler. The current exhibit The Gift of Art celebrates the amazing contribution to civilization that art gives, the wonderful gift to friends and family of a piece of art and the generous donors of this year’s gifts to the Reboli Center art collection. In the Reboli Center, wonderful art and crafts are available for visitors to enjoy; and in the Design Shop, paintings, folk art, craft and sculpture are available for purchase as gifts or to decorate your home for this or any season. The Reboli Center is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. (Closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.) For more information, call 631-751-7707, or visit the Reboli website at www.rebolicenter.org.

St. James General Store, 516 Moriches Road, St. James

This “old-fashioned” general store is run by the Suffolk County Parks Department, Division of Historical Services. Here are two floors of 19th- and 20th-century goods and lots of homemade goodies. They have an extensive collection of old-style candies, many brands dating back to the 19th century. Be sure to try one of their delicious molasses pops. On the second floor are books on Long Island covering many local communities, as well as lots of wonderful children’s books. This is now one good, close, independent bookstore. The back room has an extensive collection of ornaments, some of which are reproductions of antique decorations. Back on the first floor, there is a large selection of toys, dolls and games for children that also harken back to the 19th century. The St. James General Store is open every day 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 and open until 3 p.m. Dec. 24 and Dec. 31.) For more information, call 631-854-3740 or visit www.facebook.com/St.JamesGeneralStore.

There are lots of unusual gifts at these five gift shops. If you are buying a gift for someone, you will almost certainly find something to suit every taste. There are many other wonderful local shops in the Stony Brook Village Shopping Center and in Setauket and East Setauket.

In the Village of Port Jefferson, along and around Main Street and East Main Street are many wonderful and unusual shops and restaurants. A special one in Port Jefferson is Secret Garden Tea Room on Main Street. Have a cup of tea, maybe a scone and jam or a delicious lunch and look over their selection of unusual and tea-based gifts. Open 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information or reservations, call 631-476-8327 or visit www.thesecretgardentearoom.com.

Finding a special or unusual gift is not only a good idea, it also supports our local businesses and brings us closer together as a community. And you never know who you will run into by shopping locally.

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.

by -
0 350
A Smithsonian postcard shows the interior of the Headsville, West Virginia, country store and post office installed in the National Museum of History and Technology, Washington, D.C., which includes many of the items found in the old Jonas Hawkins Store and Ordinary.

By Beverly C. Tyler

Part two of two.

Following the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, 31-year-old Major Jonas Hawkins, Stony Brook general store owner and former courier for the Culper Spy Ring, continued operating Jonas Hawkins Store and Ordinary from his home in Stony Brook.

Students check out a general store display in the Setauket Elementary School auditorium during a 2012 Founders Day program. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By the beginning of the 19th century, the general store came into its own as an institution. It was an outgrowth of independence, and an example of Yankee know-how and frontier enterprise at its best.

The seemingly inexhaustible supply of American lumber and timbers plus a few manufactured items such as barrels went from U.S. ports to the West Indies where they were traded for rum, molasses and sugar. This island produce was, before the Revolutionary War, shipped in turn to England to be traded for manufactured goods — clothing, glass, china and tea — to name just a few. After the Revolutionary War, the trade continued, but the so-called triangle trade was extended to other European countries and to China as American ships began to bring their own tea, spices and other commodities back to the United States from all corners of the world.

In large part, no money changed hands between the country general store owner and the importer or between the merchant and the local seller of eggs and bacon. Bills of credit were commonly given by the importers and continued to be the general practice until late in the 19th century. The country merchant’s major asset was the produce that he collected by barter. The general store owner was in contact with the large general stores in New York City which sold both wholesale and retail as well as with the coastwise schooner captains, freight shippers, money brokers and various jobbing houses.

The country general store was a natural gathering place for residents of the community, especially in the cold winter months when many farmers, farmhands and seamen had nothing better to do. There was often a bench in the store, placed outside in the warmer months, called the liars bench. In the colder weather, the men who came to the store would find places close by the stove which often sat in the open near the middle of the room. It was here that stories were told, tall tales were spun, and the latest information on the state of the nation and the world was discussed. It was often the store owner who had the latest newspaper from New York City, or there was a ship captain who had just arrived with fresh news from one of the major ports.

Benjamin Franklin Thompson — his father called him Franklin — was just 16 years old in 1801. He was a hard, if not willing, worker on his father’s farm in Setauket, and he was often sent to Jonas Hawkins Store and Ordinary for a variety of items.

“November 18, 1800 — Tuesday … Franklin rides to Major Hawkins to carry 36 yards of cloth, gets half a pound paper of tobacco at 0/9 (0 shillings, 9 pence) carries 2 bushels of wheat to mill [Stony Brook Grist Mill] and fetches it home.”

About half the entries in Samuel Thompson’s diary which detailed trips to the general stores in Setauket and Stony Brook indicate that Samuel went himself.

“July 23, 1800 — Wednesday … Ride to Major Hawkins yesterday fetch 2 gall Rum pay 17/. Buye six yards of callonnick for my wife a pettecoat pay 24/ for it.”

It was usual for Thompson to visit the home and store of Hawkins since he was one of the few doctors in the community, and the general store was a vital source of news about local residents as well as being the source of many of Thompson’s medicines.

The inside of a wooden cigarillos box with a typical general store scene. Image from Beverly C. Tyler

“October 9, 1800 — Thursday … I ride to see Betsey Kelly then to Major Hawkins in the afternoon pay 10/ for a gallon of rum get 10 oz common Peruvian Bark pay 3/11.”

Thompson also listed senna and white vitriol as medicines that he purchased during the year 1800 from Hawkins’ store.

Thompson recorded in his diary an average of one trip a month to the general store of Hawkins. His purchases for 10 months included 12 gallons of rum. Thompson had a 200-acre farm and at least five farmhands. His purchases also included small quantities of sherry, gin and brandy. He also records the purchase of earthen cups, pipes, a pitcher and pins.

The country general-store owners were usually a fairly easygoing lot, and they put up with a great deal of tomfoolery from the bench warmers. They were also a no-nonsense breed who recognized a good product or a good worker.

As the 19th century began, the country general store began to change and grow. In 1805, Artemas Kennedy of Arlington, Massachusetts, near Boston, started the Kennedy Biscuit Company. The first “sea biscuits” were supplied to clipper ships as a staple for sailors on the long voyages around Cape Horn to California. The sea biscuit or cracker soon became popular on land as well as at sea, and the cracker barrel soon became a standard item in the country stores.

For those would like to experience an authentic country store, there is the St. James General Store located at 516 Moriches Roads. This “old-fashioned” general store is run for the benefit of residents and visitors through the Suffolk County Parks Department, Division of Historic Services. There are two floors of 19th- and 20th-century goods, and lots of homemade goodies. They have an extensive collection of old-style candies, with many brands that date back to the 19th century. On the second floor are books on Long Island covering many local communities, as well as lots of wonderful children’s books. The back room has an extensive collection of ornaments, some of which are reproductions of antique decorations. Back on the first floor there is a large selection of toys, dolls and games for children that also harken back to the 19th century.

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.

by -
0 552
Plenty of unique shopping opportunities are available in the Three Village area such as at the Reboli Center. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

Holiday shopping at the stores that help give our historic communities a sense of place just makes good sense. The upcoming holiday season is a good time to purchase a few of the wonderful gifts and books about the local area and to pay a relaxing visit to a few nearby not-for-profit shops that deserve our special support.

Three Village Historical Society History Center & Gift Shop, 93 North Country Road, Setauket

The society’s gift shop was expanded to complement the exhibit SPIES! How a Group of Long Island Patriots Helped George Washington Win the Revolution. There you will find gifts including many books, booklets and pamphlets on local history. A local favorite is “General Washington’s Commando: Benjamin Tallmadge in the Revolutionary War” by Richard F. Welch. I already knew a lot about Tallmadge, but I couldn’t put Welch’s book down. It’s well researched, organized and interesting. Other books of note include “Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring” by Alexander Rose, the consultant for the AMC series “TURN,” a dramatization of the Setauket-based Culper Spy Ring. Selene Castrovilla’s books bring the Revolutionary War to life and the illustrations will delight both children and adults. “Upon Secrecy” tells the story of the Long Island-based Culper Spy Ring. “Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette” brings to life the relationship between Washington and Lafayette. Everyone of every age should read this moving account of two real American treasures. Her latest book “Revolutionary Rogues” is the story of the lives and relationships between John Andre, British officer and intelligence chief, and Benedict Arnold, a successful American general who became our most well-known traitor. The gift shop is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the gift shop and exhibits are open every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. (Closed Dec. 24 and 31.) For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

At Gallery North residents can find artistic presents. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket

The gallery is diagonally across the street from the historical society. It is easy to park at one and walk across the street to the other. The entire gallery is a gift shop with many beautiful paintings and gift pieces by local artists for sale. The current exhibit is Deck the Halls. Local artists and artisans have created beautiful paintings, drawings, handmade jewelry, pottery, glass, decorations, bags, cards and much more. Gallery North also is showcasing a diverse range of Long Island art and has Holiday POP-UP Shopping. On Thursdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21, from 4 to 7 p.m., join them for a glass of wine and refreshment while you meet the artists and shop. Each Thursday evening a different selection of artists and artisans will be offering their hand-crafted gifts, jewelry, art and more. Gallery North is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. through Dec. 22. For more information, call 631-751-2676 or visit www.gallerynorth.org.

Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook

The gift shop in the Visitors Center includes books and prints on The Long Island Museum’s exhibits and permanent collections. There are also jewelry, pottery and hand-blown glass items made by local artists as well as hand-turned wood items by local artist Harry Wicks. The Visitors Center includes a temporary display of Revolutionary War items and the gift shop offers children’s Revolutionary War era gift items. The Visitors Center and gift shop are open Thursday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m., closed Dec. 24 and 25. For more information, visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Reboli Center, 64 Main St., Stony Brook.

The Reboli Center opened a year ago in the former bank building on Main Street in Stony Brook. On display are a large collection of wonderful paintings by Joe Reboli. Around the Reboli Center are four sculptures by Long Island artist/sculptor David Haussler. The current exhibit Tis the Season features Reboli paintings of the beauty of winter. In the design shop, there are wonderful art and craft items available to purchase for gifts as well as giclée prints of some Reboli paintings and artwork by Doug Reina, Jim Molloy and Pam Brown as well as David Ebner furniture and interesting items from a variety of artists. Stop in and see all the Reboli Center has to offer. The Reboli Center is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m. Thursdays have extended hours to 8 p.m. through Dec. 21. For more information, call 631-751-7707 or visit www.rebolicenter.org.

St. James General Store, 516 Moriches Road, St. James

This old-fashioned general store is run by the Suffolk County Parks Department, Division of Historical Services. There are two floors of 19th- and 20th-century goods and lots of homemade goodies. They have an extensive collection of old-style candies, many date back to the 19th century. Be sure to try one of their delicious molasses pops.

The Visitors Center at The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook includes a temporary display of Revolutionary War items and the gift shop offers children’s Revolutionary War era gift items. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

On the second floor are books on Long Island covering many local communities, and lots of interesting children’s books. This is one good, close-by, independent book store. The back room has an extensive collection of ornaments, some of which are reproductions of antique decorations. Back on the first floor, there is a large selection of toys, dolls and games for children that also harken back to the 19th century. The St. James General Store is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 631-854-3740.

There are lots of unusual gifts at these four gift shops. If you are buying a gift for someone, you will undoubtedly find something to suit every taste. There are many other excellent local shops in the Stony Brook Village Shopping Center and Setauket and East Setauket. In the Village of Port Jefferson, along and around Main Street and East Main Street are many delightful and unusual shops and restaurants. A special one in Port Jefferson is Secret Garden Tea Room on Main Street. Have a cup of tea, maybe a scone and jam or a delicious lunch and look over their selection of unusual and tea-based gifts. Open 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sundays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information or reservations call 631-476-8327 or visit www.thesecretgardentearoom.com.

Finding a special or unusual gift is not only a good idea, it also supports our local businesses and brings us closer together as a community, and you never know who you will run into by shopping locally.

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.

Social

9,376FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,155FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe