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The Long Island Museum

Meet historical figures including Anna Smith Strong, left, and Benjamin Tallmadge at Culper Spy Day
Meet Big Bill the Tory during Culper Spy Day

On Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tri-Spy Tours, the Three Village Historical Society, the Long Island Museum and the Ward Melville Heritage Organization will present a day of spy-related tours and activities for the 5th annual Culper Spy Day.

The event is named for the Culper Spy Ring founded by Benjamin Tallmadge of Setauket, which provided Gen. George Washington with the information he needed to turn the tide of the American Revolution.

A collaboration of more than 40 historical and cultural organizations, from Montauk to Manhattan, will gather in the Three Village area for a day of community events. Participants will have the opportunity to build their own Revolutionary War story and to visit the places where history was made during this self-guided tour. Activities throughout the community will include tours, a Revolutionary War encampment, Colonial cooking demonstrations, musical performances, crafts and more.

Featured events

The Three Village Historical Society will host Anna Smith Strong and her famous clothesline, invisible ink demonstrations, a Spies! exhibit, children’s book signing, Colonial music by the Three Village Chamber Players from noon to 4 p.m., an outdoor gift shop and Tavern on the Field featuring food trucks Eat Me, Drink Me, Fat Boys BBQ Bus and Food Nation Generation.

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook will hold blacksmithing demonstrations in the Samuel West Blacksmith Shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. LIMarts artists Joseph Rotella and Lori Scarlatos will paint plein air in the carriage shed at the Caroline Church in Setauket from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Meet historical figure Robert Townsend, center, during the event

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will have costumed docents guide visitors through their c. 1709 Thompson House and their c. 1665 Joseph Brewster House. Living historian Diane Schwindt of Stirring Up History will be serving up some tasty and authentic 18th-century treats from America’s past on the front lawn of the Brewster House. A miller will be on hand to demonstrate the workings of the c. 1751 Stony Brook Grist Mill throughout the day.

George Washington’s original letters to members of his spy ring will be on display at the Stony Brook University Library’s Dept. of Special Collections between 10 a.m. and noon.

The Three Village Inn and the Country House Restaurant in Stony Brook will feature a spy lunch for an additional fee. Reservations are required (not included in Spy Day ticket price).

Other Culper Spy Day sites and activities include historical cemetery tours, tea with Big Bill the Tory, viewing of the Vance Locke murals at the Setauket Elementary School and new this year, the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot encampment with musket firing and battle drills on the Village Green for the ultimate Culper Spy Day experience. Build your own Revolutionary War story and see history come to life at this fun-filled event.

If you go:

Tickets, which are $25 adults, $5 children ages 6 to 12, children under the age of 6 and veterans are free, may be purchased online at www.tvhs.org or in person at the Three Village Historical Society at 93 North Country Road in Setauket. Participants will receive a bracelet and a copy of the Culper Spy Day map with all event listings. Tickets are good for admission to participating organizations on Sept. 14. Some organizations include additional dates. 

For more information, please visit www.culperspyday.com.

All photos by Anthony White

Model Jean Patchett wears a Hulitar gown in 1952 for fashion magazine Vogue. Photo by Francesco Scavullo.

By Melissa Arnold

Before Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors became icons in the fashion world and a fixture of department stores everywhere, there was designer Philip Hulitar.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Hulitar was designing distinctively tailored and elegantly decorated cocktail dresses that were worn by the likes of Jane Fonda, Rosemary Clooney and Patty Duke. In 1949, a journalist wrote of him, “The star of a gifted designer has risen recently on the fashion horizon.”

Hulitar developed a passionate following on Long Island, where he lived and gave generously in support of his local community. So it was only fitting to host the first exhibit dedicated exclusively to his work and legacy at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook. Titled Gracefully Chic: The Fashions of Philip Hulitar, the show opens in the museum’s Art Museum on the hill on July 27 and runs through Oct. 20.

Curated by LIM’s Deputy Director and Director of Collections & Interpretation Chief Joshua Ruff, the exhibit has been years in the making, beginning with a single dress. The yellow silk chiffon gown with a green sash and floral accents was purchased at Henri Bendel in New York circa 1955 and was worn by Carolyn Fell of Nissequogue during her teen years. It was donated to the Long Island Museum in 1998. 

Ruff has included the dress in a few other exhibits over the years and always wanted to know more about the man who designed it. 

“This exhibit is unique in its dedication to a single designer. He’s never truly gotten his due in a museum project before, especially on this scale,” he said. “There are a lot of museums that have one or two Hulitar pieces in their collections, but to have the opportunity to gather so many pieces in one room is really special.”

Born in 1905 to a Hungarian diplomat and an Italian noble, Hulitar immigrated to the United States during the Great Depression. For 18 years, he worked as chief designer for the Bergdorf Goodman department store before launching his own brand in 1949.

Philip Hulitar dress, Museum of the City of New York

“Philip Hulitar’s work really evokes mid-20th century America. He was tremendously successful during that specific time in history,” Ruff said. “All major cities carried his label, from large department stores to small boutiques. In postwar society, parties and social events were hugely popular, so having several elegant dresses was a priority. Hulitar’s pieces were accessible to people in middle and upper middle class who needed fine evening wear at prices they could afford.”

Hulitar gained a reputation for his creative use of different materials, complex and elegant textures, and mixing synthetics with traditional fabrics like silk and satin. While he liked to employ a variety of cuts and silhouettes, Ruff said that Hulitar was very conscious of how a particular look would fit each person. 

“At his core, Hulitar was about making the feminine form even more beautiful,” Ruff said.

Gracefully Chic will include original drawings from Hulitar, along with apparel and dresses borrowed from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and a variety of other public and private sources. 

In all, the exhibit will display 45 garments and more than 100 objects and images. 

The Long Island Museum also benefits directly from the generosity of the Hulitar family. In 2016, the museum received a large monetary donation from the Hulitar Family Foundation, and the museum has since named its textile collection after them. The Mary and Philip Hulitar Textile Collection houses more than 10,000 objects, from a 1790s wedding dress to a pair of Jordache jeans.

Visitors to the exhibit will also have the unique opportunity to visit the “interactive dressing room,” an area designed to resemble an early 1960s department store. There, they can try on a Hulitar replica in various sizes. Velcro panels make it easy for the dress to fit over regular clothes, and visitors are encouraged to take pictures and show off their style. 

Those looking to explore fashion at a deeper level will want to join the Long Island Museum on Sept. 26, when they host Behind the Runway. This special dinner will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the museum and will feature guest speaker Madelyn Shaw, textile curator at the Smithsonian American History Museum. Shaw will speak on the development of American fashion in Hulitar’s era.

“I think people love to see fashion exhibitions, especially with such an interest in retro fashion today,” Ruff said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for people out here on Long Island to come and see these pieces in their backyard, without having to go to New York City.”

Gracefully Chic will be on view at the Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook from July 27 through Aug. 25. Regular museum hours are Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for students 6 to 17 and college students with ID. Children under 6 are admitted for free. For further information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

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The March 22, 1840, letter from Robert Nelson Mount to his brother William Sidney Mount. No envelope was used, the letter was folded and sealed with a wax seal. Stamps were not used at this time. The postmaster signed the letter with his initials for the fee in the upper right corner of the folded letter. From the collection of Beverly and Barbara Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

How sweet the silent backward tracings!

The wanderings as in dreams — the meditation of old times resumed — their loves, joys, persons, voyages.

— Walt Whitman, “Memories”

The Mounts of Stony Brook were a close family throughout their lives. The children of Julia Hawkins Mount — Henry Smith, Shepard Alonzo, Robert Nelson, William Sidney and Ruth Hawkins — kept in contact with each other even when they were many miles apart pursuing their careers. There was probably no period when this closeness was more evident than during 1840 and 1841.

On Jan. 22, 1840, their grandmother, Ruth Mills, widow of Major Jonas Hawkins and mother of Julia Mount, died at the family home in Stony Brook. Her death at the age of 91 seemed to have strongly affected William Sidney Mount. According to his biographer, Edward P. Buffet:

“After the brilliant successes of the past few years (prior to 1840) Mount now suffered a slight reaction in the acclaim of his exhibits at the National Academy. His pictures, The Disappointed Bachelor, Boy Hoeing Corn and The Blackberry Girls, all fell short of his high-water mark of merit.”

Robert Nelson Mount also felt deeply the death of his grandmother. During 1840 and 1841 he was still in Georgia teaching dancing at various towns. He had left the Three Village area in October 1837, traveling south to take a job at a school. His wife, Mary, remained in Setauket, and he wrote often to her and to members of his family. In a letter to his brother William Sidney written from Macon, Georgia, March 22, 1840, he wrote:

“The two letters I have previously received from you contained intelligence of a serious nature. The last made known to me the death of our excellent grandmother. I had great hopes that I should see her again, but now those hopes are dispelled . . . we shall behold her no more. Yet in our minds she will live. Her good deeds we will not forget. Years hence we will lead to her grave the children that are yet unborn; and to them we will speak of her great kindness, and of her many virtues.”

In the same letter Robert Nelson spoke of his eldest brother Henry, a well-known artist in his own right who did not limit his talents to art alone. He wrote:

“The music you sent me I am highly pleased with . . . The two cotillions composed by brother Henry I like much, especially the 3rd No. which I think will hold place with the best cotillions of the day. I shall endeavour to arrange such a figure to it as it merits.”

On Jan. 10 of the following year, 1841, at the age of 38, Henry Smith Mount died after a long battle with tuberculosis. In his biography of the Mounts, Benjamin Franklin Thompson wrote about Henry:

“His private character was of the most unexceptionable kind — his temper mild and amiable, and in all the relations of life scrupulously honest, faithful, and affectionate. The death of such a man, under such circumstances, was generally and deeply regretted, both by his family and a large circle of acquaintances.”

Robert Nelson wrote of his brother Henry in a letter to William Sidney from Monticello, Georgia, dated March 4, 1841:

“I have received two letters from you. The last dated the 5th of February contained a delightful set of cotillions from the collection of Mr. Matherson. At first I found the 3rd and 4th numbers of those cotillions somewhat difficult to perform; but having practiced them a great deal, I am now able to run through them with tolerable ease. I thank you for having sent them to me at the time you did . . . Music that I brought from home with me, — duets, — every leaf of which, as I turn them over, reminds me of our departed brother Henry. I think how often we have tuned our instruments and played those airs together; — then they served to cheer and enliven my feelings. Now when I attempt to play them alone, I fancy I can still hear his accompaniment; — a gloom comes over my spirits . . . The remembrance of him I will ever cherish; — The music he gave me I will treasure up with a misers care. — The marks that his pencil has made upon its pages, I will never efface.”

On Nov. 25, 1841, Julia Hawkins Mount, mother of the talented brothers, died at the age of 59. Shepard wrote home to William Sidney his feelings as their mother lay near death:

“Yesterday, Elizabeth and myself wrote mother and sister Mary a long letter — took it to the post-office where we received yours with the melancholy information that our dear mother is rapidly passing away. The improvement in my health is principally owing to my being of late removed from any exciting scenes whatever, for I have shunned all such here. The world seems to be willing to think favorably of us as a family of children. — If we deserve to be thus favorably considered, how much are we indebted to our mother for its attainment. — Of late years she has had but little intercourse with the world, living almost exclusively for the well-being, and respectability of her favored children. — Mingled with her worldly sorrows she has had the consolation to witness our gratitude in the remembrance of her many virtues . . . I have been so long unemployed in painting, save upon some trifling subject which I cannot turn to immediate account, that I feel it my duty to paint if possible 2 or 3 portraits before coming home — for even amid the sorrows and vicissitudes of the world we must prepare to live on and worry through much that goes against the heart. — As this time the love of art vanishes, but the love of those who depend upon me for the comforts of life, point out the path I must tread. I have no positive engagements in the city, and should I come home at this time, I fear it would be a long while before I could feel able or composed enough to pursue my profession. Your affectionate brother — S.A. Mount.”

The Long Island Museum exhibit Walt Whitman’s Arcadia: Long Island Through the Eyes of a Poet & Painters presents chosen passages from Whitman’s writings alongside more than 20 paintings by William Sidney Mount, John F. Kensett, Lemuel Wiles and more. The stunning wooded landscapes, rustic scenery and rugged shoreline that so captivated Whitman was equally fascinating to artists from across the region.

On Saturday, July 20, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Long Island Museum, in collaboration with Red Skies Music Ensemble will present Walt Whitman, William Sidney Mount & the Sounds of the 19th Century. This research-based program weaves together an engaging narrative with live musical performance, theatrical cameos and large screen images to explore Whitman and Mount’s interconnected biographies and how music was an essential part of their creative lives. Visit www.longislandmuseum.org for details.

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.

‘Lonely,’ watercolor, by Mengqui Shen, 11th-grader, The Knox School in St. James
‘Brianna,’ acrylic on canvas, by Jemma Guevrekian, 10th grade, Kings Park High School

It’s back! The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook will present its annual student art exhibition, Colors of Long Island: Student Expressions, sponsored by Sterling National Bank, in the Visitors Center through April 7. This annual exhibit affords an opportunity for hundreds of students from across Long Island to display their artwork in a museum setting.

Art teachers from grades K through 12 were asked to submit up to three pieces, either created individually or by groups. 

Traditionally, the theme, Colors of Long Island, allows for many creative interpretations. 

While some students refer to Long Island’s landscapes, others prefer to focus on the cultural diversity that makes Long Island so colorful. The varying interpretations of this theme are portrayed through all types of media, including watercolors, sculptures, quilts, drawings, oil pastels, photographs and computer graphics.

This year’s exhibit includes 240 works of art from students from 127 public and private schools. 

The museum will recognize the achievements of these talented students at two receptions scheduled for March 3 and March 24 from noon to 4 p.m. Parents, teachers, students and the general public are invited to attend. 

The Long Island Museum is located at 1200 Route 25A in Stony Brook. Hours are Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For additional information call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Images courtesy of the Long Island Museum

Eye-opening exhibit depicts the history of slavery on Long Island

'Sharpening the Saw,' 1867, oil on canvas, by William Moore Davis. Image courtesy of the LIM

By Heidi Sutton

After a brief hiatus, the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook reopened last weekend to showcase its latest exhibit, Long Road to Freedom: Surviving Slavery on Long Island, in honor of Black History Month.

Located in the Art Museum on the hill, the show is already receiving quite a lot of attention, evident by the many visitors who stopped by last Saturday. Jonathan Olly, who curated the exhibit, was pleased by the interest. “Part of the challenge of working behind the scenes is that we almost never spend time in the galleries so to see this is great,” he said as he fielded questions from guests.

The project, which took approximately five months of research, features more than 100 items, including paintings, photographs, artifacts, furniture and documents that are tied to Long Island’s slavery story. In addition to items culled from the LIM’s collection, many pieces from the exhibit are on loan from other museums, historical societies, libraries and private collectors.

‘Eel Spearing at Setauket,’ 1845, oil on canvas, by William Sidney Mount is showcased in the exhibit.

Brought from Africa to New York by the Dutch and later by the English in the 1600s, slaves had an impact on every community on Long Island for the next 200 years. Landowners like the Smith, Hawkins/Mount, Townsend, Blydenburgh, Hewlett, Mills, Lloyd and Strong families used enslaved Africans and their descendants to manage their estates until New York State formally abolished slavery in 1827. 

“If you were wealthy in the late 18th century on Long Island you were probably enslaving people,” said Olly. “Because that was what business was.”

“African-Americans have been part of the story of Long Island since the very beginning and they’re still here. Every historical society on Long Island has something that’s tied to their town’s story about slavery. This exhibit was an opportunity to bring all those pieces together and to see what kind of portrait it makes,” he said.

There’s a lot to take in.

As you enter the exhibit you are immediately greeted by William Sidney Mount’s most famous work, “Eel Spearing at Setauket,” on loan from the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown. Last seen at the LIM in 1998, “It’s come home for a brief visit,” said Olly during a tour.

Commissioned by George W. Strong, the 1845 genre painting, depicting a young white boy and female slave by the name of Rachel Holland Hart fishing for eels with the Strong family estate in the background, is a fitting starting point for this important lesson in Long Island’s history.

“It’s a painting of a memory that Strong had as a child,” explained Olly. “The story is the relationship between African-Americans and English-Americans but with a warm glow over it. So it is a slavery painting, but it is a pleasant memory of that time told through this family (pointing to the boy) as opposed to this family (pointing to the woman) which I’m sure would have a very different perspective on that.”

‘The Slaves Grave,’ undated, oil on canvas, by Shepard Alonzo Mount

Long Road to Freedom is told in sections, from when slavery began in New York in 1626 and follows its story for the next 200 years. In a stroke of brilliance, the exhibit is essentially split in half, with one side painted in a dark blue depicting the time of slavery, while the other is painted a light blue to represent freedom.

Visitors can view a door that came from the attic of the Joseph Blydenburgh home in Smithtown labeled “door to slave pen.” Notices from local newspapers offering rewards for runaway slaves line one wall, next to legal documents including bill of sales selling enslaved families and wills specifying what is to happen to the slave, who was part of the estate, after the owner’s death.

The exhibit also highlights the accomplishments of slaves, including poet Jupiter Hammon, whaler Pyrrhus Concer and author Venture Smith, and pays homage to the Quakers, the first group of people who decided that owning people was morally wrong. “The New York Quakers were really the first to question the institution of slavery and basically said, ‘If you want to be a Quaker in good standing you have to free your slaves,’” explained Olly, adding that they protested by not wearing cotton.

Two vignettes, located on either side of the room, reveal a full-size replica of the below-deck quarters of a slave ship complete with leg irons and a replica of what a typical African-American church would look like.

Two headstones retrieved from a former slave burial ground on the Mount property in Stony Brook are on display, engraved with loving epitaphs. 

The entire experience can get quite emotional. “This is very heavy stuff,” agreed Olly. 

Before leaving, visitors are invited to write down their thoughts. One card reads, “They were stripped of their name, their culture, their families, wholly opposite of any of our beliefs. This was an eye-opening exhibit.” It’s music to the curator’s ears. “That’s the best case scenario. The worst thing would be if people come through [this exhibit] and it doesn’t phase them at all,” said Olly. “You want it to touch people, to have something here resonate with them, and it looks like that is happening.”

The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will present Long Road to Freedom: Surviving Slavery on Long Island through May 27. In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum will host a symposium on March 9 (see below) and a special screening of the documentary “Emanuel” on April 15 at 7 p.m.

Regular museum hours are Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for students 6 to 17 and college students with I.D. Children under 6 are admitted for free. For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Accompanying Symposium

‘Portrait of Tamer,’ 1830, oil on panel, by Shepard Alonzo Mount. Image courtesy of LIM

Want to learn more? On Saturday, March 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. the Long Island Museum will present Long Road to Freedom: Surviving Slavery on Long Island, an all-day symposium exploring the experiences of African-Americans on Long Island across two centuries – from the travails of slavery to the blossoming of free black communities. Scholars will discuss the integral role of slavery in our region’s history and how African-Americans navigated between slavery.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and topics of discussion include developing free black communities on Long Island; slavery, freedmen and the Quakers of Long Island; Setauket’s mixed heritage Native-American and African-American communities; gendered experiences in East End captivity and freedom; and lessons learned through Eastville, the Sag Harbor community formed largely by freed people of color. There will be a Q&A session immediately following the morning and afternoon sessions.

Presenters for the symposium include Jonathan Olly, curator of the museum’s Long Road to Freedom exhibition; Mary Elliot, museum specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Jennifer L. Anderson, associate professor of history at Stony Brook University; Lynda Day, professor of Africana studies at Brooklyn College; Christopher Matthews, professor of anthropology at Montclair State University; Allison McGovern,  senior archaeologist at VHB Engineering, Survey, Landscape Architecture and Geology, P.C.; and Georgette Grier-Key, executive director and curator at the Eastville Community Historical Society and professor of Africana studies at Nassau Community College.

Those wishing to attend the symposium are asked to preregister by calling 631-751-0066, ext. 211 or email bchiarelli@longislandmuseum.org. Registration fee is $12 per person plus $10 (optional) for lunch. Lunch is also available off-site at Stony Brook area eateries at participant’s expense. 

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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.

John Cunniffe, right, of John Cunniffe Architects, Ken Horan, principal, and Laura Sixon, electrical engineer, of Jacobsen & Horan Engineering, outside the future Long Island Museum visitors center and gift shop building. Photo from The Long Island Museum

Two familiar structures in the Three Village area are about to get makeovers.

New York state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) recently secured state grants for The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook and the Old Field Lighthouse. The museum will receive $300,000 for the renovation of the saltbox building that was once used as a visitors center and gift shop. The Village of Old Field will receive $278,000 from the state to offset the cost of repairs the lighthouse needs.

Museum visitors center and gift shop

The interior of architect’s model with examples of shop furnishings from East Setauket architect Robert Reuter. Photo from The Long Island Museum

Sarah Abruzzi, director of major gifts and special projects at LIM, said the structure closest to 25A on the west side will be the one renovated. The old gift shop and visitors center was closed in 2009, and museum guests currently browse a small selection of items in a gift corner located in the history museum also on the west side of LIM’s campus on Route 25A. Patrons buy tickets and get information there too.

Abruzzi said the decision to close the original visitors center and gift shop was tough, but the right one at the time. The director said many patrons have missed the former gift shop that offered a wider variety of items and asked for its return, and recently it became a priority to get one up and running as soon as possible.

Abruzzi said she and museum executive director Neil Watson met with Flanagan in May to discuss the plans they are working on. The gift shop renovation is the lead project within a master plan for LIM, according to Abruzzi.

“It’s so generous, it’s so wonderful,” she said. “We’re so proud that Senator Flanagan recognizes that the museum is such an important part of the community.”

Flanagan said it was his pleasure to secure the funding for the renovations for LIM’s upcoming 80th anniversary.

“It is so important that the history of our region is preserved and available to our residents and The Long Island Museum is crucial in that effort,” he said. “This project will enhance the experience for all future visitors while also providing a platform for local artists, and I am glad to be able to assist in this undertaking.”

Abruzzi said once the building is renovated, visitors will be able to go inside to get tickets, information and buy from a wider variety of items in the new gift shop, including more original art and crafts from local makers.

“We’re just really trying to reinforce the Long Island connection,” she said.

Local architect John Cunniffe is working on construction drawings, according to Abruzzi, and once the process is completed the bidding phase will begin. She said Flanagan securing the grant is a tremendous help in the project that was launched with museum supporters’ financial commitments. Last year’s LIM holiday gala raised approximately $25,000 toward the renovations at the museum and covered the cost of design and engineer fees.

Old Field Lighthouse

The Old Field Lighthouse is in need of extensive repairs. Photo from Village of Old Field website

Village of Old Field Mayor Michael Levine said the lighthouse, built in 1868, needs extensive repairs from the basement to the top

“Almost every aspect of the lighthouse needs to be repaired,” Levine said. “It hasn’t been repaired in decades.”

The mayor said there is significant leaking within the walls, windows need to be replaced, the cast iron where the beacon sits is pitted, plaster is falling and the bathroom needs to be redone.

“The money that we are getting is extremely helpful, but it’s really just the beginning of the process,” he said.

The mayor said the village is in the process of setting up a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to allow residents to contribute to the renovations that will take a few years to complete.

According to Flanagan’s website, the money will also help in making the lighthouse, which is open to the public during the day, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

“The Old Field Lighthouse is a landmark of major importance to our region as well as a continuing beacon of safety for Long Island boaters,” the senator said. “It is crucial that we protect these historic properties for future generations, and I am happy to work with Mayor Levine and the rest of the Village of Old Field board to secure this funding to preserve this piece of Long Island history.”

Photo by Anthony White

The fourth annual Culper Spy Day was held Saturday, Sept. 15 offering participants self-guided tours of 24 locations in the Three Village area and Port Jefferson including eight more spots than previous years.

Margo Arceri, founder of the event and owner of Tri-Spy Tours, was pleased with this year’s turnout of more than 800 visitors.

Margo Arceri speaks to visitors about Culper Spy Abraham Woodhull at his gravesite in the Setauket Presbyterian Church Cemetery during the event. Photo by Michael Rosengard

“Culper Spy Day has grown beyond my wildest dreams,” she said. “From Manhattan to Montauk, attendees get to learn and understand just how the Culper Spy Ring helped change the course of the Revolution. These were ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Without the hard work and efforts of each individual
organization and their volunteers, it would not be what it is today.”

Tri-Spy Tours, the Three Village Historical Society, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization and The Long Island Museum hosted the  day with more than 40 organizations participating. Ticketholders experienced Revolutionary War encampments; docent-led tours of historic homes, churches and cemeteries; blacksmith demonstrations; Colonial cooking; children’s activities; invisible ink demonstrations, a TURN memorabilia auction and more.

From left, Major Benjamin Tallmadge (Art Billadello) and Abraham Woodhull (Beverly C. Tyler) read a copy of The Royal Gazette dated July 21, 1780 on the grounds of the Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket as Big Bill the Tory, aka William Jayne II (David Burt), looks on. Billadello is wearing a dragoon coat from the AMC television series ‘TURN’ that will be auctioned off at Gallery North’s Studio during Culper Spy Day. Photo by Heidi Sutton

 ‘Lucky is the child who listens to a story from an elder and treasures it for years.’

Barbara Russell, Town of Brookhaven Historian 

By Heidi Sutton

Margo Arceri first heard about George Washington’s Setauket spies from her Strong’s Neck neighbor and local historian, Kate W. Strong, in the early 1970s. Arceri lights up when talking about her favorite spy, Anna Smith Strong. 

“Kate W. Strong, Anna Smith Strong’s great-great-granddaughter, originally told me about the Culper Spy Ring when I used to visit her with my neighbor and Strong descendant Raymond Brewster Strong III. One of her stories was about Nancy (Anna Smith Strong’s nickname) and her magic clothesline. My love of history grew from there,” she said.

Five years ago Arceri approached the Three Village Historical Society’s President Steve Hintze and the board about conducting walking, biking and kayaking tours while sharing her knowledge of George Washington’s Long Island intelligence during the American Revolution.

Today, Arceri runs Tri-Spy Tours in the Three Village area, which follows in the actual footsteps of the Culper Spy Ring. “I wanted to target that 20- to 60-year-old active person,” she said.  “I have to thank AMC’s miniseries “TURN” because 80 percent of the people who sign up for the tour do so because of that show,” she laughs. 

It was during one of those tours that Arceri came up with the idea of having a Culper Spy Day, a day to honor the members of Long Island’s brave Patriot spy ring who helped change the course of history and helped Washington win the Revolutionary War.

The Brewster House, considered to be the oldest house in the Town of Brookhaven, will be open for tours on Culper Spy Day.

“Visiting places like the Brewster House, which is owned by The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, the grave site of genre artist William Sidney Mount at the Setauket Presbyterian Church cemetery (whose paintings are at The Long Island Museum) and the Country House, which every one of the spies visited,” Arceri thought “there has to be a day designated to celebrating all these organizations in the Three Village and surrounding areas; where each of us can give our little piece of the story and that’s how Culper Spy Day developed.”

After a successful three-year run, the fourth annual Culper Spy Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. offering self-guided tours of 24 locations including eight new spots for the ultimate Culper Spy Day experience. “The more the merrier,” laughs Arceri.

One new event you won’t want to miss is an interactive tour at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket where you’ll experience a different spin on George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring. Maintained by Preservation Long Island, the property boasts a 1700s saltbox home, apple orchard, barn, an ice house, corn crib, a pasture and nature trail.

According to Darren St. George, education and public programs director at Preservation Long Island, the farm was originally owned by the Jayne family.

“The property was purchased by Mathias Jayne in 1730 [who built a lean-to saltbox dwelling] which is eventually passed down to William Jayne II in 1768 who expands the house after his second marriage,” he said, continuing, “[William] was involved with local government, he was a constable, so he had some stature and clout in the community and it was nice to have a more substantial home.”

However, when the Revolutionary War broke out, Jayne chose to remain a Loyalist and a steadfast supporter of the crown.

Meet Big Bill the Tory at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket on Culper Spy Day and learn the TRUTH about George Washington’s pesky band of renegade spies! Photo by Darren St. George, Preservation Long Island

“William Jayne II was a known Tory in the neighborhood,” said St. George. “Long Island was occupied by many Tories, many people still supported the king and didn’t want to upset the status quo, but as the war concluded, most Torys moved to Canada or Connecticut or they turned their back on the king entirely, but Jayne doesn’t. He still stays a Tory, he has his reputation and still thrives in the community,” eventually acquiring the nickname Big Bill the Tory.

When Jayne passed away, the home remained in the family until it was sold in 1908 to Preservation Long Island’s founder, Howard C. Sherwood, who used the home to showcase his many antiques. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

During Culper Spy Day, ticketholders will be able to take part in a 20-minute guided tour of the first floor of the home, specifically the Jayne Parlor (which was added after the Revolutionary War), the Sherwood Living Room (which was the original 1730 home) and the Tap Room (kitchen/dining room).

One of the more interesting features of the home are the original late-18th-century hand-painted floral wall frescoes on the walls of the Jayne Parlor. Commissioned by William Jayne II, they were rediscovered underneath wallpaper by Sherwood in 1916 who had them restored by well-known artist Emil Gruppé. “One small panel was left untouched so that you can see how it’s weathered through the years,” St. George pointed out during a recent tour.

The home contains artifacts that specifically relate to the American Revolution, including paneling on the fireplace wall and shutters on a bar in the Tap Room that came from the Tallmadge House of Setauket, believed to be the birthplace of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, a founding member of the spy ring who would become George Washington’s chief intelligence officer.

As a special treat, Big Bill the Tory, portrayed by David Burt, will make a guest  appearance during each tour and share his views on the Culper Spy Ring and the noble intentions of King George III. “He’ll explain what life has been like for him as a Loyalist — the other side of the story that we’re really not hearing too much of,” explained St. George.

Parking will be in the field next to the property and visitors are asked to line up at the back door for the tour, which will be ongoing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Apple cider and donuts will be available for purchase.

Arceri’s favorite part of the day is “seeing all these different organizations coming together as a whole. It really is our Revolutionary story,” she said. “Everywhere you turn in the Three Villages you are looking at an artifact, and as the historical society believes, the community is our museum and that I would really love to put on the forefront of people’s minds.”

Admission is $25 adults, $5 children ages 6 to 12 and may be purchased in advance at the Three Village Historical Society (TVHS), 93 North Country Road, Setauket, by calling 631-751-3730 or by visiting www.tvhs.org. Veterans and children under the age of 6 are free. 

Tickets may be picked up at the TVHS from Sept. 11 to 15. At that time, participants will receive a bracelet and a copy of the Culper Spy Day map with all event listings and include access to 24 Culper Spy Ring locations. If available, tickets on the day of the event may be purchased at the historical society.

Participating organizations: 

The fourth annual Culper Spy Day is presented by Tri-Spy Tours, the Three Village Historical Society, the Long Island Museum and The Ward Melville Heritage Organization in collaboration with the Benjamin Tallmadge District of the Boy Scouts; Campus Bicycle; Caroline Church of Brookhaven; Country House Restaurant; Custom House; Discover Long Island; Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum; East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection; Emma S. Clark Memorial Library; Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield Museum & History Center; Frank Melville Memorial Park; Fraunces Tavern® Museum; Gallery North; History Close at Hand; Huntington Historical Society; Huntington Militia; Joseph Lloyd Manor House; Ketcham Inn Foundation; Northport Historical Society; Old Methodist Church; Paumanok Tours; Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce; Port Jefferson Free Library; Preservation Long Island; Raynham Hall Museum; Rock Hall Museum; Setauket Elementary School; Setauket Harbor Task Force; Setauket Neighborhood House; Setauket Presbyterian Church; Sherwood-Jayne Farm; Stirring Up History; Stony Brook University Libraries, Special Collections; Stony Brookside Bed and Bike Inn; Three Village Community Trust; The Three Village Inn; Times Beacon Record News Media; and the Underhill Society of America Inc. 

Jane Jacobs interview at Washington Square Rally,1960. Photo courtesy of LIM
The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook will host a lecture titled Anthony Flint & Wrestling with Moses on Sunday, August 19 at 2 p.m. Journalist and author Anthony Flint, senior fellow at The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, will discuss his book, “Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City” and then will lead visitors on an introspective journey into the battle between Moses and activist Jane Jacobs. Afterward, visit the Robert Moses exhibition to gain additional insight into Moses’ life and times. This program is free with regular museum admission. NO RESERVATIONS NECESSARY. For more information, call 631-751-0066.