Stony Brook Post Office Eagle restored to glory

Stony Brook Post Office Eagle restored to glory

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) recently announced the successful restoration of the iconic Stony Brook Eagle, a beloved landmark perched atop the historic Stony Brook Post Office. After 83 years of service, the eagle has been meticulously restored thanks to the unwavering support of local and dedicated community members. The restoration was completed just in time for Memorial Day, allowing the patriotic eagle to be displayed for the holiday.

Built in 1940 and completed in 1941 by the visionary businessman and philanthropist Ward Melville, Stony Brook Village stands as a testament to his grand vision. Among the thirty-five buildings modified or relocated by Melville, the Post Office stands out with its remarkable 20-foot mechanical eagle, captivating generations of visitors with its lifelike movements. However, after so many years in service, the hand-carved wooden fixture was in need of restoration.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Englebright successfully secured a $125,000 grant to restore several of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s (WMHO) historic properties, including the eagle. To supplement the grant, WMHO launched a fundraising campaign. This campaign reached people through newsletters, social media, and word-of-mouth, drawing donations from a diverse group of supporters. Contributions came from former and current residents, locals from neighboring towns, and eagle enthusiasts from as far away as San Antonio, Texas. 

Olivia and Harlan Fischer, Branch Financial Services made a significant donation. Frederick, Jeannie, and Margeaux Ringwald, grandchildren of Friederich Wilhelm Ringwald, the man who carved the 20-foot eagle in the 1940s, also donated to the cause. The restoration, totaling $85,000, was fully funded by the donations specifically raised for the eagle.

Renowned for their expertise in historic restoration, Henry Restoration Ltd. of Nesconset was entrusted with the project. With a reputation built on prestigious projects like the Sheraton St. Regis Hotel and Trinity Church in New York City, the company commenced work on April 2nd, completing the project in less than seven weeks. WMHO worked closely with Timothy Henry, President of Henry Restoration Ltd. on the restoration.

Sidewalk bridging and scaffolding were constructed at the Post Office to facilitate the restoration work. Missing, loose, and broken parts, including the feet and arrowheads, were expertly restored or replaced. New stars, crafted from mahogany by Carl Reinke, Vice President of Henry Restoration Ltd., replaced the original Masonite stars. 

Enhancements included aluminum straps for wing stabilization and a new stainless-steel chain to replace a rusty steel one. The eagle has been reconnected to its internal clock mechanism, which remains in excellent working condition. This ensures it will continue to flap its wings every hour, on the hour, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, captivating onlookers for years to come.

This project stands as a testament to the community’s commitment to preserving its rich heritage and honoring the legacy of Ward Melville. WMHO has established a dedicated fund to support the eagle and its mechanisms moving forward. Checks can be made payable to the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, and can be sent to P.O. Box 572, Stony Brook, NY 11790. Your donation is tax-deductible.