By Cayla Rosenhagen
With a flap of the mechanical eagle’s wings above the stately façade of the Stony Brook Post Office, the Secrets of Stony Brook Village Tour had begun.
On August 26th, the small group gathered on the shady lawn beside the post office in the center of the charming village. There we met our enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guide, Deborah Boudreau, the education director for the Ward Melville Heritage Organization for the past 12 years. She began the tour by telling us about the picturesque shopping center where we stood.
Built in 1941 by philanthropist Ward Melville as a part of his industrializing ‘rehabilitation’ project in the area, it was the first shopping center of its kind in the country. We then proceeded to visit the firehouse and the Jazz Loft, which at the time of Ward Melville was the Suffolk Museum. The museum, housing works by genre artist William Sidney Mount and a large collection of wagons and carriages, was eventually moved down the road to where the Long Island Museum stands now.
The tour group visited the historic Three Village Inn and the Hercules pavilion overlooking the magnificent Stony Brook wetlands stretching into the Porpoise Channel. The vista was spectacular and full of life; a flock of geese swam by and momentarily joined our tour, and cormorants and gulls flew overhead.
Inside the pavilion stands a figurehead of Hercules which once adorned the prow of the USS Ohio, and a wooden whaleboat recovered from an expedition to the Arctic in 1870. The tour concluded on Main Street across from the All Souls Episcopal Church with fascinating stories about the architect of the church and an actor who once resided in one of the Victorian-style homes along the road.
It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. Accompanied by such a congenial group of people, I learned so much about the village I love and grew even closer to it.
As we said our goodbyes, Deborah announced that the Ward Melville Heritage Organization would be running another tour, called the Stony Brook Village Secrets and Spirits Tour. Just in time for Halloween, this walking tour is taking place for two days only — on October 28th at 2:50 pm, and October 29th at 10:50 am. It will begin at the Stony Brook Post Office. The event costs $10 per participant and the WMHO recommends that participants make reservations. To reserve a spot on the tour or to find out more about the program, call 631-751-2244.
Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in teaching.