Authors Posts by Kenneth Brady

Kenneth Brady

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Above, Celebrated local artist Louise Brett, left, and Theresa Emery, right, are pictured on the bridge that crosses over the LIRR tracks at Sheep Pasture Road, February 1948. Note the sign for McDonald turkeys. Photo courtesy Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

McDonald Farms, once the largest turkey breeding farm in New York state, was located south of Sheep Pasture Road and the LIRR tracks in Port Jefferson Station.

Established in 1939 by the William P. McDonald Construction Company, the farm was tucked away in the woods nearby McDonald’s sand mine on Sheep Pasture Road.

In 1944, Ledkote Products Company, the corporate predecessor of now-shuttered Lawrence Aviation, purchased McDonald Farms and continued raising turkeys on the property.

Retaining the name McDonald Farms, the business flourished after World War II, creating a demand for poultrymen who were offered $30 per week and lodging as compensation.

In 1947, the farm had 5,000 breeders and raised over 20,000 Broad Breasted Bronze and White Holland turkeys, advertised as the “undisputed monarchs of the entire turkey kingdom.” 

Above a Thanksgiving postcard. Photo courtesy Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

The business boasted everything necessary to ready birds for the market, including incubators, nurseries, floor brooders, houses for the hens and toms, ranges planted in clover and dressing rooms.

A leader in the poultry trade, McDonald Farms hosted the regional Northeastern Turkey Growers Convention in July 1947. The two-day event featured a tour of the farm, a banquet at Teddy’s Hotel and Restaurant at the intersection of Main and East Broadway in Port Jefferson, and agricultural programs at Port Jefferson High School.

McDonald Farms generously donated turkeys to needy individuals and charitable organizations, not only on Thanksgiving but throughout the year. 

The business also welcomed field trips from students in all age groups, reaching youngsters in the lower grades as well as upperclassmen in John E. Berney’s vocational agriculture class at the high school.

A roaring fire destroyed a four-story feed hopper at McDonald Farms in April 1955, but fortunately no fatalities or serious injuries resulted from the blaze.

Beginning in 1959, Lawrence Aviation began manufacturing titanium sheeting at what was formerly the McDonald Farms property, marking the site’s transformation from agricultural to industrial use.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of the village.

The Port Jefferson post office, west side of Main Street, today the site of The Pie pizzeria, is decorated for Old Home Week. Postmaster John M. Brown is pictured on the right. Photo courtesy the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Port Jefferson’s first post office, known as “Satucket,” was established in 1801 with Zachariah Hawkins as its postmaster. 

About 1806-7, Hawkins moved from Setauket to Port Jefferson, settling near the southeast corner of Myrtle Avenue and Main Street in a building that was to be his house and store, as well as the post office. The site is now occupied by Infant Jesus Roman Catholic Church. By 1811, the “Satucket” post office had been renamed “Drown Meadow.”

Archival records do not indicate where the village’s post office was located when Port Jefferson’s second postmaster, dock owner and merchant James R. Davis, held the position, but “Drown Meadow” was changed to “Port Jefferson” in 1836 during his tenure.

The site of the post office is also not identified in government files relating to the administration of the village’s third postmaster, shipbuilder John R. Mather, but during the early 1800s post offices often operated out of local businesses and private homes.

With the 1845 appointment of Henry K. Townsend as the village’s fourth postmaster, Port Jefferson’s post office was based in the Townsend House at Hotel Square, the intersection of today’s Main and East Main streets.

The dwelling on the right once served as the house and store of Port Jefferson’s first postmaster, Zachariah Hawkins, as well as the post office. Located on the southeast corner of Myrtle Avenue and Main Street, the building was moved to allow for the construction of Infant Jesus R.C. Church. The Catholic rectory is on the left. Photo courtesy the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

After being named postmaster in 1861, Holmes W. Swezey established a post office in his Main Street drugstore, today the home of Billie’s 1890 Saloon. 

When Civil War veteran George W. Kinner became postmaster in 1866, he set up headquarters in a small building approximately where Kate and Hale’s clothing store now stands at 227 Main St., but later worked out of the front room of his Main Street home near Wynne Lane.

Following Sidney S. Norton’s appointment as Port Jefferson’s eighth postmaster, the post office opened in a building at a site currently occupied by The Pie pizzeria at 216 Main St., remaining there through a series of postmasters. 

In December 1911, during John M. Brown’s term as postmaster, the village’s post office began operations on the ground level of the brick, brand-new Port Jefferson Post Office Building, now Regency Condo at 202 Main St.  

After a ferocious fire gutted the Post Office Building in winter 1948, postmaster John J. Cassidy established emergency quarters in the Odd Fellows Hall on East Main Street. The post office then moved to American Legion Wilson Ritch Post on East Main Street, remaining there until summer 1948 when it returned to its old location at 202 Main. 

Under the supervision of postmaster Donald W. Floyd, the present Port Jefferson post office opened on Nov. 29, 1965, in the Sil-Flo Building at 407 E. Main St., one of a succession of locations in downtown Port Jefferson that have ably served customers for over 200 years.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

In 1916, Joseph Vandall opened his own meat market on East Broadway at what was previously Lester Davis’ store. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Joseph Vandall was a well-known resident of Port Jefferson and one of the village’s prominent businessmen.

In 1892, he was hired as a butcher at Lester Davis’ Meat Market, which was located on today’s East Broadway. After purchasing Davis’ shop in 1916, Vandall found that he needed more space for his growing business.

Vandall bought land to construct a modern store in 1923 and broke ground the next year. The building was situated on the south side of East Broadway between the Harbor View Hotel and Smith’s Plumbing.

The brick and concrete structure, known locally as the Vandall Building, provided room for three shops on the first floor. A large meeting area, Vandall’s Hall, filled the entire second floor.

The Vandall Building opened in 1925 and was occupied on the ground level by Vandall’s Meats and Groceries, Lerch’s Music Shop and Azenaro’s Fruits and Vegetables.

While these establishments were important to the local economy, Vandall’s Hall quickly gave the building its identity. Soon a landmark in Port Jefferson, the hall became “the” place for a variety of events including dances, fundraisers, recitals, musicals and wedding receptions.

Among the booths and exhibits at Vandall’s Hall during the Second Industrial Show, March 1930. The event promoted local businesses, their products and services. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

In February 1929, local businessmen exhibited their products and services at Vandall’s Hall during the village’s first Industrial Show. Sponsored by the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, the event proved so popular that another show was held in March 1930. 

In one of the more unusual uses of the Vandall Building, a miniature golf course, requiring all of the space on the second floor, opened at the hall in November 1930 but closed the following year.

In 1932, the Port Jefferson Moose Lodge leased the hall and, in turn, rented the venue to other groups, reducing Vandall’s active involvement in the business.

Following Vandall’s retirement in 1940, the South Bay Consolidated Water Company moved its Port Jefferson office into what had been Vandall’s Meats and Groceries. The Suffolk County Highway Department rented the entire second floor for its quarters, ending the hall’s days as a place for social gatherings.

After Vandall’s death in July 1945, the Vandall Building was sold and rented to various tenants with one redefining the East Broadway property. 

Max “Mac” Snyder opened an Army & Navy Store in the Vandall Building on Sept. 3, 1954, days after Hurricane Carol wreaked havoc in Port Jefferson.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1912, Snyder had moved to Brooklyn in 1932 with his wife Florence. The couple and their children later relocated to Valley Stream before being drawn to Port Jefferson.

Snyder saw the village’s downtown near the waterfront as an ideal location for his store, believing that harbor improvements, suburbanization, population growth, road construction and cultural tourism would bring potential buyers to Port Jefferson.

The Vandall Building was located on the south side of East Broadway. (Left to right) Lerch’s Music Shop, Azenaro’s Fruits and Vegetables, and Vandall’s Meats and Groceries. Photo by Arthur S. Greene. Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive.

These customers found a variety of merchandise in Snyder’s store, which was stocked with clothing, footwear, fishing rods, camping gear, marine supplies and military items.

Snyder also developed a niche market, advertising his store as a skin-diving center where sportsmen could purchase scuba equipment, wet suits, masks, fins and snorkels.

Snyder became so well known in Port Jefferson that the Vandall Building was soon called “Mac Snyder’s,” supplanting the original owner’s name in the local vocabulary. 

By 1968, Snyder’s Army & Navy Store was still on the ground level of his building, but the first floor was also occupied by a laundromat. The Mary Beth dress manufacturing company, which specialized in piecework, filled all of the second floor.

While the Vandall/Snyder Building had survived hurricanes, a fire on Jan. 21, 1968, left the property in ruins. What remained was later demolished.

The blaze brought an end to a building but not to one business. Just months after the fire, Snyder opened a new Army & Navy Center in Port Jefferson at 214 Main St., opposite what was then the Brookhaven Town Tax Office.

The approximate site of the former Vandall/Snyder Building is now occupied by what was formerly Ecolin Jewelers, across from Brookhaven Town’s Mary Bayles Park.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

The Bayles Shipyard Band is pictured on the steps of Port Jefferson’s Plant Hotel, June 10, 1919. The band performed at ship launchings, Friday night dances, receptions, and costume parties. Source: National Archives

Following America’s entry into World War I, the number of employees at the Bayles Shipyard in Port Jefferson jumped from 250 in November 1917 to 1,022 in January 1919. 

Since many of these workers could not find housing in the village, the United States Shipping Board campaigned to persuade the area’s homeowners to rent rooms to Port Jefferson’s shipbuilders.

A painting by commercial artist Rolf Armstrong was offered as a prize to the villager who did the most to alleviate the housing shortage. Since this and other efforts did not meet much success, the USSB retained architect Alfred C. Bossom to design cottages and dormitories in Port Jefferson for the burgeoning population.

Bossom recognized the urgent need to provide accommodations for the wartime labor force, his numerous commissions including the Remington Apartments high-rise complex built for workers at the Remington Arms munitions factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

To secure a site for Port Jefferson’s housing development, the Bayles Shipyard purchased almost 16 acres of land just west of Barnum Avenue from Catherine Campbell in July 1918. 

Nine detached, one-family homes were designed by Bossom to reflect the character of “old Long Island fishing villages” and erected along Cemetery Avenue, later renamed Liberty Avenue.

Between 1921-23, Port Jefferson’s Plant Hotel served as a United States Veterans Training Center. Source: Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Bossom also designed a dormitory unit called the Plant Hotel since it accommodated employees at the Bayles plant. The Mark C. Tredennick Company, which had constructed buildings at the Army’s Camp Upton in Yaphank, was named the general contractor.

Now the site of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, the Plant Hotel included 206 rooms, a cafeteria, powerhouse, athletic field and water purification facilities. A porch connected the three major wings of the complex.

Completed in December 1918 just after the Armistice on Nov. 11, the hotel soon became the center of social life for shipyard workers. A band was formed, a baseball team was organized and dances were held on Friday evenings. 

In April 1919, the Emergency Fleet Corporation commandeered the Bayles Shipyard because of the unsatisfactory progress at the facility. The seized property, which included the Plant Hotel, was then sold to the New York Harbor Dry Dock Corporation.

When the new owners fired hundreds of shipyard workers, the number of boarders at the Plant Hotel dropped dramatically. To compensate for this loss, the hotel began offering rooms to transients by the day or week.

The Port Jefferson Times scolded the hotel’s new clientele for destroying electric bulbs, smashing wash basins, spitting on the floors and generally behaving as if they were hoodlums. 

In December 1920, the NYHDDC shut down the Bayles Shipyard, dismissing all of its workers except for a skeleton crew. Confronted with a virtually empty Plant Hotel, the NYHDDC leased the complex to the Federal Board for Vocational Education, later renamed the United States Veterans Bureau. 

The Plant Hotel, which had been extensively damaged by some departing boarders, was refurbished as a training center charged with teaching disabled soldiers and sailors.

The initial group of 125 veterans arrived at the Plant Hotel in October 1921. During a typical three-month stay, the men prepared for new careers and received medical care. For recreation, they were entertained by theatrical troupes, went on field trips and enjoyed Friday night concerts. 

Port Jefferson’s Plant Hotel was still under construction on October 15, 1918. Photograph by Arthur S. Greene, National Archives

Despite pressure from local business groups and politicians, in June 1923 the Veterans Bureau left Port Jefferson as part of a nationwide plan to consolidate its rehabilitation facilities. 

As demobilization continued, local businessman Jacob S. Dreyer purchased the Liberty Avenue cottages, which have changed hands several times over the years and are still standing. In July 1929, taxpayers in the Port Jefferson school district voted to purchase the Plant Hotel itself and the remaining 13 acres.

In subsequent elections, the citizens authorized the board of education to sell some of the hotel’s furnishings, grade the grounds and construct an athletic field on the site. In June 1934, the taxpayers voted to build a high school on the property.

The board of education quickly sold the Plant Hotel to a high bidder for $250. Workers then demolished the building and hauled away the wreckage. 

 

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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The Hotel Echo was located immediately north of the LIRR tracks; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

For some of the residents of Comsewogue, now Port Jefferson Station, getting the mail once meant traveling from three to five miles to the post office in downtown Port Jefferson.

Tired of the inconvenience, a group of Comsewogue’s citizens petitioned the government in 1888 to establish a post office within their community.

The Echo Building on the west side of Main Street housed the Charles A. Squires Real Estate Agency, Port Jefferson Echo newspaper and Port Jefferson Station Post Office. Photo by Arthur S. Greene; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

The Postmaster General responded that so many places in the State ended in “ogue” that to avoid confusion Comsewogue would have to be renamed if a post office was to be considered for the area.

The name Comsewogue and its many variants was an Algonkian term meaning “a walking place,” had appeared in Brookhaven Town records as early as 1805 and was rich in etymology and history.  

Nevertheless, the petitioners acquiesced and submitted several names as Comsewogue’s replacement: South Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson South, Maple Hill, Enterprise, Cedar Grove, and Jefferson Heights. Each was rejected, either for being too common or too long.

In the next round of proposals, William I. Wyckoff suggested Echo, the same name as a famous racehorse once owned by Comsewogue’s Nathaniel Dickerson. Echo — only four letters long — was accepted by the postal authorities and Charles A. Squires appointed as the office’s first postmaster.

A native of Good Ground (Hampton Bays), Squires had begun work as the depot agent at the Port Jefferson Railroad Station in 1886 and soon earned a reputation in Comsewogue for his competence and geniality.

Under Squires’ able leadership, the Echo Post Office opened in a building on the west side of today’s Main Street (Route 25A), immediately north of the LIRR tracks.  

Charles A. Squires, the “father of Port Jefferson Station.” Photo by Arthur S. Greene; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Squires also championed his bailiwick in the Port Jefferson Echo, a newspaper that he had founded with G. Frederick Hallock in 1892. The “Republican journal” helped establish the uniqueness of Echo and operated out of the same building as the Echo Post Office.

Following A. Jay Tefft’s purchase of the Echo in 1899, Squires devoted his considerable energies to buying and selling real estate, developing several subdivisions in the area including Belle Croft, Norton Park, Fairview Place, and Bergen Estates.

In 1904, Echo’s post office and newspaper, along with Squires’ Real Estate Agency, resettled a few steps north on Main Street in the new Echo Building. Hugo Kreitzberg then transformed the unoccupied property resulting from the move into the Hotel Echo.

The Echo Post Office was renamed the Port Jefferson Station Post Office in 1910. Squires had led a popular petition drive in support of the change and later became known as the “father of Port Jefferson Station.”

Key among the reasons for the switch, it was argued that Echo was a “meaningless place name” and that the presence of the Port Jefferson Railroad Station best defined the area.

After being called home for 22 years, Echo just faded away.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as s well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

Interior view of Fort Moultrie, Charleston, South Carolina, April 1861, where Scanlan served during the attack on Fort Sumter. Photo from a stereograph; Library of Congress

Cedar Hill Cemetery is located in Port Jefferson on a commanding site high above the village’s downtown and harbor.

Among those at rest in the cemetery, there are over 40 soldiers and sailors who served with the North during the Civil War.

Capt. C. A. Scanlan is also buried in the cemetery, but he fought against the Union forces in the South’s Lost Cause. His tombstone is inscribed with “C.S.A.,” the initials representing the Confederate States of America.

Who was this former Rebel officer and how did he become one of Port Jefferson’s permanent residents?

Charles Anthony Scanlan was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, in 1825. Married twice, he had a daughter with his first wife.

Scanlan worked as a shipsmith on the docks in Charleston, South Carolina, worshipped at the city’s First Baptist Church, was a Freemason, and belonged to the local militia.

Scanlan’s tombstone at Port Jefferson’s Cedar Hill Cemetery.
Photo by Kenneth C. Brady

After South Carolina seceded from the Union, Federal troops transferred from the garrison at Fort Moultrie to the stronger Fort Sumter, both part of Charleston’s harbor defenses. Scanlan was among the Carolinians who then occupied the abandoned Fort Moultrie.

Scanlan began his duties at the emplacement on Jan. 1, 1861, served as an acting military storekeeper and readied the stronghold’s guns and ordinance for what would become the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

The action began on April 12, 1861, when a ring of Confederate batteries around Charleston Harbor hammered Fort Sumter, the barrage announcing the start of the Civil War. Described as a “sergeant” in a later account of the assault, Scanlan led a detachment of six men in Fort Moultrie’s magazine, one of the emplacements blasting the Union forces

Following the evacuation of the Federal garrison at Fort Sumter, Scanlan was assigned to Fort Walker on South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island. In official accounts of the battle, Scanlan was identified as a “lieutenant” and commended for his work in the citadel’s magazine.

After tours at South Carolina’s Castle Pinckney and Fort Beauregard, Scanlan was assigned to Fort Sumter, where he was wounded in August 1863 during the Union’s bombardment of the Confederate stronghold.

Scanlan ended his days in the military as a captain. He returned to Charleston where he resumed his work as a shipsmith, later pursuing an entirely new career.

Phosphate rocks, which existed in large quantities near Charleston, were used in the manufacture of commercial fertilizer. Scanlan fabricated machinery that improved the dredging of the valuable rock from South Carolina’s riverbeds. Securing patents on his inventions in 1877 and 1883, Scanlan profited handsomely from the extensive phosphate digging in the Ashley River region.

During the mining operations, fossils were found in the phosphate deposits. Fascinated with natural history, Scanlan began gathering the specimens, amassing the largest private collection of fossils in South Carolina and among the largest in the nation.

Following the death of his second wife Eliza in 1890, Scanlan moved to Port Jefferson to live with his daughter Mary Estelle who had married Henry Randall, a prominent Port Jefferson businessman and banker.

The Randalls spent summers at their house on Port Jefferson’s Myrtle Avenue and winters at their home in Brooklyn, with the elder Scanlan joining in the seasonal move.

Scanlan quickly became well-known in Port Jefferson. In 1893, he exhibited portions of his fossil collection at the village’s Athena Hall (Theatre Three) and later in many of Port Jefferson’s storefronts.

But two events brought Scanlan even wider acclaim. His fossils were displayed at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and at the Agricultural Palace during the Charleston Exposition, both shows earning Scanlan rave reviews for his superb collection.

Interior view of Fort Moultrie, Charleston, South Carolina, April 1861, where Scanlan served during the attack on Fort Sumter. Photo from a stereograph; Library of Congress

Besides providing his fossils for public viewing, Scanlan donated items from his collection to universities and museums in the United States and abroad, where paleontologists used the specimens in their studies of early forms of life.

Growing older, Scanlan reflected on his years in the military, thinking that at the time of the Civil War he had been “in the right” to support disunion, but later coming to believe he had fought in a “mistaken cause.”

Although he had once worn Confederate Gray, Scanlan was treated respectfully in Port Jefferson by his former foes. During Decoration Day ceremonies at Cedar Hill Cemetery in May 1905, he was among those honored by Lewis O. Conklin Post 627, Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a Union veteran organization with a “camp” in the village.

Scanlan died in Brooklyn in 1907. Following Baptist services held at his son-in-law’s Port Jefferson home, Scanlan was buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

In 1913, Scanlan’s massive collection of fossils, amounting to over nine barrels of diggings, was sold by his estate to Connecticut’s Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History where Scanlan’s legacy lives on.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as s well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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The second Bayles Chandlery, left, was destroyed in an 1897 waterfront fire and the Willse-Bayles Homestead, right, was leveled in 1917. Photo by George B. Brainerd; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Professional photographer Arthur S. Greene and amateur photographer John M. Brown are well known for their images of early Port Jefferson, but another talented photographer who also recorded life in Port Jefferson is hardly a household name. 

Unlike Greene who had a studio in Port Jefferson or Brown who besides being a shutterbug was Port Jefferson’s postmaster, photographer George B. Brainerd primarily documented urban Brooklyn.

Razed in June 1965, the Petty Building stood on Port Jefferson’s Main Street and housed the Port Jefferson Times weekly newspaper. Photo by George B. Brainerd; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Renowned for his city scenes, it is often forgotten that Brainerd also photographed the rural landscape on his jaunts throughout Suffolk County including then sleepy Port Jefferson.

Born in 1845, Brainerd attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, worked as a civil engineer, was Brooklyn’s deputy water purveyor from 1869 to 1886, and is considered a pioneer of amateur photography.

Over the course of his trips to Port Jefferson in 1878 and 1879, Brainerd photographed a variety of the village’s buildings — many of which are no longer standing. 

One image shows the Methodist Church, which was later sold at auction, moved from Port Jefferson’s Spring Street to Main Street, converted into a storehouse, and destroyed in a September 1904 blaze.

Another view depicts the office of the Port Jefferson Times. The weekly newspaper was housed on the west side of Port Jefferson’s Main Street in the Petty Building which was razed in June 1965. 

Brainerd’s photo of the north side of Port Jefferson’s East Broadway pictures the second Bayles Chandlery which was destroyed in a July 22, 1897 waterfront fire and the iconic Willse-Bayles Homestead which was leveled in December 1917 to make way for what is now the Port Jefferson Village Center.

Additional images show the Port Jefferson Flour Mill on West Broadway, sold in 1918 and later dismantled; Smith’s Hotel on Main Street, renamed the Ardencraig Inn and lost in a 1920 blaze; and Raynor’s Hotel on East Main Street, commonly known as the Port Jefferson Hotel, demolished in 1949. 

Raynor’s Hotel on Port Jefferson’s East Main Street was demolished in 1949. Photo by George B. Brainerd; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Besides these shots, Brainerd’s panoramic views of Port Jefferson capture the village’s Cedar Hill Cemetery, original railroad station, Emmett B. Darling Shipyard, John R. Mather Lumber Shed, tranquil harbor, inviting streets, and gracious homes. 

Gifted in freezing the Port Jefferson scene for posterity, Brainerd has left us with a treasure, providing an invaluable record of what it was like to live in the village before its suburban development.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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Pictured in 1911 during Old Home Week, Griswold’s Garage was built of Unit Brick and located on the west side of Port Jefferson’s Main Street. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Incorporated in 1910, the Unit Brick and Tile Company was located on Hallock Avenue, just south of the LIRR tracks, in today’s Port Jefferson Station.

Employing 20 workers on an 11-acre site, the plant manufactured standard brick, roofing and flooring tile, and hollow block, but was best known for producing Unit brick.

Made from sand, gravel and cement, Unit brick had a distinctive U-shape and could be finished in a variety of shades thus eliminating the need for interior painting.

According to its boosters, Unit brick was 33-66% cheaper than common brick, impervious to dampness and as strong as conventional building materials. 

Fanning’s Garage, West Broadway, Port Jefferson, and Chris Henningsen’s residence, Hallock Avenue, Port Jefferson Station, were among the first buildings in the area to be constructed of Unit brick. It was later used in building projects in Belle Terre, St. James, Patchogue, Old Field, Smithtown and Wading River.

Unit brick was also shipped by schooner, such as the Emma Southard, to destinations in New York as varied as Hastings-on-Hudson, Staten Island and Lloyd Neck.

To popularize Unit brick, the company exhibited its signature product in a store on Port Jefferson’s East Main Street. The showroom opened in August 1911 during Old Home Week, an event that brought thousands of visitors to the village.

The Unit Brick and Tile Company was situated on Hallock Avenue, just south of the LIRR tracks, in today’s Port Jefferson Station. Photo by Arthur S. Greene; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

In addition, the corporation was promoted by members of the Port Jefferson Business Men’s Association, especially Jacob S. Dreyer, publisher of the Port Jefferson Times, and advertised in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Port Jefferson Echo. In August 1912, newspapermen from the Long Island Press Association toured Unit Brick’s factory.

The company received glowing testimonials from customers such as Belle Terre’s William Wadsworth who wrote in 1913 that Unit brick was “the best all-around building material on the market.”

Prominent Port Jefferson lawyer Thomas J. Ritch, Jr. and physician Luther H. Chambers, both of whom served on Unit Brick’s Board of Directors, lent their respected names to the venture.

Unit Brick enjoyed a meteoric rise marked by encouraging sales and good publicity, but much like a shooting star soon burned out, several factors contributing to the corporation’s early demise.

Unit Brick faced competition from another local startup, the Dyett Sand-Lime Brick Company on the west side of Port Jefferson Harbor, as well as from the established Port Jefferson Cement Block Company on High Street. 

Court proceedings followed allegations that Unit brick was an inferior product and being delivered “damp.” 

The company expanded too rapidly, opening subsidiaries in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where demand for its goods was not as strong as anticipated. 

Perhaps most important, the building trades had a long tradition of using red clay brick and simply balked at trying a new product.

After Unit Brick dissolved in 1917, a receiver was appointed. The corporation’s machinery and equipment were sold at public auction in 1918 and bought by the Port Jefferson Junk Company for $2,150. In 1920, Unit Brick’s former property in Port Jefferson Station was purchased by the LIRR which built a yard for its locomotives and cars on the acreage.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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Prohibition agents examine barrels of booze found on a rumrunner seized by a Coast Guard cutter. Photo from the Library of Congress

On Saturday afternoon, Aug. 22, 1931, William Fillbach was sitting in his car, which was parked on the ferry dock at Port Jefferson, waiting to serve a warrant on a man due there at 5:30 p.m.

An investigator for the Suffolk County District Attorney, Fillbach was turning the pages of a newspaper when he caught a glimpse of a boat being hauled out of the water and on to the ways of the Port Jefferson (aka Long Island) Shipyard at the foot of Main Street.

The rumrunner Artemis was hauled out of the water and on to the ways of the Port Jefferson Shipyard shown at the foot of the village’s Main Street. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

All Fillbach could read on the vessel were the letters “Art,” but they were enough for him to identify the boat as the notorious Artemis, a rumrunner that had disappeared following her heated battle with a Coast Guard cutter.

Fillbach climbed aboard the now high and dry craft, which had been moved into a shed, and carefully observed the scene. There was no contraband on the battered booze boat, but the bullet-riddled vessel was strewn with broken glass and three planks on her port side were smashed inward.

Fillbach learned that the crippled Artemis had been towed to Port Jefferson by the swordfisher Evangeline, but workers at the Port Jefferson Shipyard claimed not to know who owned the disabled craft, which bore no registration numbers, or who gave the orders to make her seaworthy.

Fearing that the mysterious smugglers might attempt to spirit the stranded Artemis out of Port Jefferson, Fillbach and five deputy sheriffs guarded the fugitive vessel until Sunday, Aug. 23, when a Coast Guard cutter took over the watch.

Just days before, on Thursday evening, Aug. 20, CG-808 was patrolling Long Island Sound, searching for suspected rumrunners. The cutter had sighted the 53-foot Artemis about two miles east of the Cornfield Point Lightship and commanded her to stop.

Although loaded down with illicit liquor, the speedy rumrunner answered by racing off into the darkness, propelled by her powerful Liberty aircraft engines that had been converted for marine use.

The Coasties gave chase and fired hundreds of shots at the fleeing craft, many hitting the mark. During the thick of the running battle, the agile Artemis suddenly turned about and rammed the 45-foot CG-808, forcing the severely damaged cutter to stop the pursuit and limp back to the Operating Base in New London, Connecticut.

Known as a ‘Six Bitter,’ a 75-foot Coast Guard patrol boat is docked at Port Jefferson’s Bayles Landing. During Prohibition, the government’s patrol boats waged a relentless war against rumrunners operating in local waters. Photo from the Michael F. Lee Collection

The rumrunners then landed on the beach three miles west of Orient Point, where two badly wounded men were taken off the speedboat and driven to Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport while the vessel’s prized cargo was quickly unloaded by swarms of willing local residents. 

Angered by the attack on CG-808, and miffed by the escape of the Artemis, Coast Guard officials brought in a private airplane and dispatched two patrol boats to locate the infamous rumrunner. Despite their best efforts, the Artemis was secreted away, stopping briefly in Mattituck Harbor for some patchwork before moving on to Port Jefferson for major repairs.

In the aftermath of the incident, the two crewmen who were aboard the Artemis and severely injured by gunfire from CG-808 were discharged from the hospital, both refusing to talk with the authorities.

The Artemis was seized by the United States Marshal, who claimed that her owners had an outstanding debt at the Gaffga Engine Works in Greenport. After the dispute was settled, the Artemis posted bond and quietly left Port Jefferson, much to the dismay of the Coast Guard.

Over the ensuing years, the Artemis changed hands and home ports several times, but never lost her reputation as a lawbreaker. In May 1935, the Coast Guard captured the Artemis off Chesapeake Bay and brought her to New York Harbor on suspicion of rumrunning, but without any evidence of illegality, the speedboat and her crew were released by the government.

Cases of Scotch Whisky fill the hold of a rumrunner captured by the Coast Guard. Photo from the Library of Congress

With the end of prohibition, the Artemis began a new, but less exciting career, running as a ferry between Bay Shore and Fire Island.

In Port Jefferson, however, the Artemis will always be remembered for bringing the rum war directly to the village.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.     

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The steamship Nonowantuc, which ran from Bridgeport to Port Jefferson, 1884-1902, is shown underway in Port Jefferson harbor. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

On July 4, 1840, the diarist George T. Strong arrived in Port Jefferson for the holiday, not on a packet or other sailing ship, but on the Sun, the first in a succession of steamboats to make regular runs between New York City and the village.

In his account of the trip, Strong wrote that the Sun had left Manhattan at 8 a.m., stopped at Cow Harbor (Northport) and arrived in Drowned Meadow (Port Jefferson) at 2:30 p.m., all in all “a comfortable voyage.”

Excursion ticket for the steamer Favorite which sailed the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson route. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

The vessel had carried about 100 passengers who were entertained by a “cotillion band” that, according to Strong, had “squeaked, twanged, and tooted Hail Columbia.”

The Sun, which began serving Port Jefferson in spring 1840, was replaced during the ensuing years by a series of steamers including the Mt. Pleasant, Suffolk, Island Belle, Golden Gate and John Faron.

The steamships typically ran for three seasons but discontinued service during the winter months. Over time, Huntington and Stony Brook were added to the ports of call. Stages were made available in Port Jefferson to convey travelers to Old Mans (Mount Sinai), Miller Place and other locations. The Mt. Pleasant charged 50 cents for passage from New York City to Port Jefferson while the Suffolk priced tickets at 75 cents and the John Faron at $1.00. 

Long at the mercy of outsiders who had monopolized steam navigation on the sound, a group of prominent businessmen from Port Jefferson and the vicinity began talks in 1858 to incorporate the Long Island Steamboat Company as a way to exercise more local control over routes, schedules and fares.

Engraving of the steamship Ocean Wave from an 1860 stock certificate issued by the Long Island Steamboat Company. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Led by investors Thomas Ritch, Reuben Wilson and Thomas Strong, the company purchased the sidewheeler Ocean Wave which started its trips between New York City and Port Jefferson in summer 1859.

In July 1860, the Ocean Wave struck a rock off Crane Neck, beached but safely landed her passengers. Although the steamer was repaired and returned to service the following month, low ridership led to the company’s bankruptcy and the sale of the Ocean Wave in a December 1861 auction.

Beginning with the Pioneer, a succession of steamboats followed the Ocean Wave. Often cited in the diary of Azariah H. Davis, the Sunbeam made the New York City run from 1867-1868 and the Mattano from 1868-1869, both sidewheelers stopping at Stony Brook. 

With the coming of the Long Island Rail Road to Port Jefferson in 1873, the public had a convenient means of traveling between the village and New York City other than on a steamboat. As business opportunities in one market came to an end, attention shifted to developing a steam ferry link between Port Jefferson and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The June 1860 schedule for the sidewheeler Ocean Wave which ran from New York City to Port Jefferson with a stop at Stony Brook. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

The steamer Brookhaven, known locally as the “Little Bedbug,” ran the Port Jefferson to Bridgeport route from 1872-1881 except for 1873-1874 when it was covered by the Spitfire. Besides carrying passengers, the steamships transported strawberries and other produce from then agricultural Long Island to industrial New England. 

Succeeding the Brookhaven, the 115-foot Favorite crossed the Sound from 1882-1883 and became well known for her special excursions to visit P.T. Barnum’s circus in Bridgeport and to see Jumbo the Elephant. 

The incorporation of the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company in 1883, followed by the beginning of ferry operations on the 120-foot steamer Nonowantuc in 1884, brought order, consistency and dependability to cross-Sound travel, a tradition of service which continues today. 

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.