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Anniversary

Artist Jo-Ann Corretti and Huntington Hospital Board of Directors Chairman William Frazier unveil the painting. Photo by Alex Petroski

People don’t often get to celebrate a 100th birthday, but on May 5 the Huntington Hospital community came together to do just that.

The hospital cared for its first patient in May 1916. To commemorate the centenary, staffers unveiled a commissioned painting of the original, smaller facility and a display of photos and artifacts that spanned the 100-year history.

Hospital equipment from the 1930s. Photo by Alex Petroski
Hospital equipment from the 1930s. Photo by Alex Petroski

“This is a big day,” Huntington Hospital Board of Directors Chairman William Frazier said in the hospital’s main lobby prior to the unveiling. “You think back 100 years and how modest this institution was — now think where it is today.”

Artist Jo-Ann Corretti was commissioned by the hospital to create a likeness of the building. She used acrylic paint to do the job, which took her about three months.

“They gave me all of these old pictures, anything they could find for me to work from,” Corretti said after the painting was revealed. “I had to lay them all out and I had to take a little from here and a little from there.”

Hospital Executive Director Gerard Brogan spoke about the institution’s mission and how it has remained constant despite many changes to the building and surrounding area.

“I think it’s important just to think about what was the genesis of the hospital,” Brogan said. “It was a 70-year-old woman who was about 5-foot-1 [and] decided that this community needed to have the very best in medical care; care that rivaled any where else in the New York City area or anywhere else on Long Island. That was the spirit that started Huntington Hospital. It was not just to have a hospital, but to have a facility that served the community and provided them the best care that you could find anywhere.”

Hospital equipment from the 1930s. Photo by Alex Petroski
Hospital equipment from the 1930s. Photo by Alex Petroski

Brogan also detailed many of the awards and accolades the hospital has received in recent years, which he credited to the dedicated and caring staff.

“You do not need to leave your area to go into New York City to get outstanding, cutting-edge care,” Brogan said. “That is the commitment of this institution and all of the people that work in it. Everybody here is titled ‘caregiver,’ because everybody impacts the patient experience.”

The Huntington Historical Society helped to amass artifacts, like obstetrician/gynecologist equipment from the 1930s and a bill from 1960 with substantially lower prices than today, to be displayed around the hospital’s lobby.

The painting will be auctioned off in November at the hospital’s annual benefit gala. Prints are also for sale.

St. Johnland Nursing Center in Kings Park is celebrating a milestone this year. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

For a century and a half, the name St. Johnland has been synonymous with helping people from all walks of life. Established in 1866, the Society of St. Johnland is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2016.

In 1866, the Society served as a home for veterans and orphans from New York City, but eventually developed into a self-sustaining industrial village.

Today, the St. Johnland Nursing Center is located on the North Shore near Smithtown Bay in Kings Park and serves as a long-term skilled nursing facility caring for about 300 people every day.

Over the course of 150 years, the role of the facility has changed, but their mission remains the same, according to a press release about the anniversary: “To create a caring and supportive environment committed to the highest standards of quality health care … to uphold the principles of human dignity and worth … affirm the right of every individual to maintain the optimum quality of life.”

St. Johnland Director of Development Cathie Wardell, who has been at the nursing center for 13 years, reflected on the impact St. Johnland has had on the community and people in need.

“The level of care for the people whose care is entrusted to us is very high and it’s amazing to see everyday,” Wardell said in a phone interview.

The nursing center shifted its focus from children to the elderly in the 1950s. Today, their primary focuses are providing care for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and traumatic brain injuries.

“The fact that this institution has survived and persisted for 150 years focusing on different demographics, the fact that we are 98 to 99-percent full all the time, that we have evolved over the years to make the changing needs of the community with our specialty units and adult day care programs is significant and noteworthy,” Wardell added.

In honor of the anniversary, the society will hold four events during 2016. For all of June, historical photographs of St. Johnland will be on display at the Kings Park Library.

On June 18, people who grew up at the facility around 70 years ago will gather for a reunion.

On Oct. 27, a dinner will be held at Watermill in Kings Park to honor the Fire Department and EMT Squad, and on Nov. 18, town historian Brad Harris will deliver a lecture on the history of the Society.

For more information about the anniversary or any of the events, call 631-663-2457 or visit www.stjohnland.org.

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The Smithtown time capsule sits in the hole it will remain inside for 50 years. Photo by Pat Biancanello

Smithtown’s Sesquarcentennial year, which began on March 3, 2015, has come to a close.

Smithtown concluded its yearlong 350th birthday celebration this past March 3 with the burial of a time capsule on the lawn in front of Patrick R. Vecchio Town Hall.

“I think it surpassed anything that any of the members of the committee might have guessed or hoped for,” Maureen Smilow, of Smithtown 350 Foundation, said in a phone interview. She was one of the members of the foundation, which was responsible for organizing the events over the course of the year.

Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R) was also involved with many of the events over the course of the year.

“I think that the public who participated in the events will take a lot out of it because they were living history,” Vecchio said. “For me the last year was a wonderful experience.”

“The gala ball that was held in the midst of basically a blizzard turned out to be a huge success,” Vecchio said when asked which of the events were most memorable for him. The gala dinner-dance was held at Flowerfields in St. James last March.

A time capsule buried in 1965 in front of Town Hall was opened to kick off the celebrations on March 3 a year ago. The Sesquarcentennial year got off to a rocky, yet funny start.

Supervisor Pat Vecchio makes his contribution to the Smithtown time capsule. Photo by Pat Biancanello
Supervisor Pat Vecchio makes his contribution to the Smithtown time capsule. Photo by Pat Biancanello

“The smell was unbelievable,” Smilow said about the moment the half-century-old milk can was opened. “Everyone on stage had to stand back, it was horrendous,” she said laughing.

The can was not properly sealed when it was buried, so over the course of 50 years moisture got in and reeked havoc on the contents, which were arguably not that exciting had they been in mint condition. The milk can contained two hats, a phone book, a local newspaper, a flyer for pageant tickets and an assortment of coins.

Before members of the town board assembled in colonial costumes at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts to open the capsule, they first had to find it.

Members of the parks department searched for the 1965 time capsule in the area they believed it was buried, but after a lengthy search that involved poking a metal rod into the Town Hall lawn, finally it was found. A few days later, it was discovered that the town engineering department, who buried the capsule 50 years ago, had left a map with the precise location.

“That was more humorous than anything else,” town historian and Smithtown 350 Foundation member Brad Harris said in a phone interview. “Had we known there was a map in engineering all that time, we would have saved a great deal of effort and time by the parks department.”

Harris said that he envisions the Smithtown residents who open the 2016 time capsule in 2066 will have a more pleasurable time opening this one, thanks to the efforts of Smilow. They will find a smartphone, baseball cards, menus from town restaurants, letters from community members and Smithtown students, and pieces of memorabilia from the 350th anniversary celebration events, among many other things.

“This time, my good friend Maureen Smilow, really was very careful about how things went in there and how they would be preserved,” Harris said. “We took care so that they would be there for people who open it. We hope they will get a cross section of what the community was like. I think it was a great time capsule.”

Smilow said she ordered a marker for the new stainless-steel, waterproof time capsule. That way it will be both easy to find and preserved in 50 years.

Smilow mentioned the parade that took place on Sept. 26 as one of her favorite events from the year. She said there were more than 2,000 people marching in the parade, which was led by Richard Smith from Nissequogue, who is a direct descendent of the town’s founder Richard Smythe.

Harris said one of his favorite events was the fireworks display that was on the same day as the parade, at Sunken Meadow State Park.

“They were spectacular,” he said.

Some other memorable events included the unveiling of Richard Smythe’s life-size statue in front of the Damianos Realty Group building on Middle Country Road in September and the recognition of Marie Sturm last March, the oldest native-born resident of Smithtown.

Recently appointed Smithtown Highway Superintendent Robert Murphy, who attended High School East and lived in Smithtown for most of his life, said that he was glad to learn more about the town that he grew up in during the year in an interview Tuesday.

Harris reflected on what the Smithtown 350 Foundation accomplished in executing all of the events, both large and small.

“I just think the year and the celebrations we pulled off over the course of the year made it a memorable one for the members of the community,” he said. “I think they’ve got lasting memories of the Town of Smithtown and some of its history. I hope that’s what sticks.”

Smilow was also proud of how successful the year was.

“It was a great year,” she said. “Everyone was really happy. It was just amazing how we had all of these people from different walks of life, different ages and backgrounds coming together.”

Ward Melville at the Stony Brook Village Center, circa 1950s. Photo from WMHO

Long before there were the Gates and the Zuckerbergs of the world, there was Ward Melville.

A major Long Island philanthropist and national business leader, the scope of Ward Melville’s generosity and vision included significant restoration of historic structures, purchase and preservation of environmental and commercial properties, education and countless other endeavors.

Ward Melville’s dream was to create a “living Williamsburg,” a place where history and culture would blend with natural beauty. Along with architect Richard Haviland Smythe, he designed what was to become the first planned business community in America, the Stony Brook Village Center. The Three Village area — Stony Brook, Setauket and Old Field — has been forever changed because of this forward-thinking benefactor.

Melville was president of Melville Corporation, the third largest retailer in the United States with some 10,000 stores, which owned Thom McAn Shoes, Marshall’s, CVS Pharmacies, Kay-Bee Toys, Wilson’s Leather and Suede and more. He also donated the very land that today houses one of our nation’s leading research institutions, Stony Brook University.

The Stony Brook Community Fund, now the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO), was founded in 1939. On Jan. 19, 1940, Ward Melville hosted a dinner at the Three Village Inn to present his plan for the future of Stony Brook Village. On Jan. 19, 2016, this milestone will be commemorated at the Three Village Inn where it all began to “Celebrate What Was … Be Part of What’s To Come.”

Starting at 6 p.m. with live music by The Tom Manuel Trio, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dessert and coffee, guests will enjoy the same menu from 1940, hear Melville’s original speech and see the original model of the village. There will even be chocolate cigars in place of real ones enjoyed in the day.

The evening continues with an 8 p.m. sneak preview of The Jazz Loft next door, which will soon showcase a historic collection of over 10,000 items of jazz memorabilia and serve as an education and jazz performance venue as well. This 6,000-square-foot structure, formerly the site of the Suffolk Museum, now the Long Island Museum, was another of Melville’s philanthropic works. Bringing this culture to Stony Brook Village is a case of history repeating itself while looking toward the future.

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, the likes of Tony Bennett and Lionel Hampton performed at the Dogwood Hollow Amphitheatre in the very spot where WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center now stands in Stony Brook Village. The vision that Ward Melville had over 75 years ago still resonates today and the results of his efforts on behalf of the citizens of Stony Brook and beyond, both economically and culturally, will continue to touch generations for many years to come.

Tickets are $125 per person and seating is limited. Proceeds will benefit The Jazz Loft. For further information call 631-751-2244 or register online at www.wmho.org.

Uerda Zena colors before her heart procedure last week. Photo from Debbie Engelhardt

A 4-year-old girl from Kosovo is recovering after a life-saving heart operation on Long Island, thanks to the work of local volunteers.

Mom Barbara Zena comforts Uerda as she recovers from her heart procedure. Photo from Debbie Engelhardt
Mom Barbara Zena comforts Uerda as she recovers from her heart procedure. Photo from Debbie Engelhardt

It took a village to support Uerda Zena. Rotary groups throughout Suffolk lent a hand to the girl and her mother, Barbara, through the Gift of Life program, which works to provide such stateside heart procedures to children from around the globe. Uerda’s Nov. 4 surgery to repair a hole in her heart the size of a nickel was a milestone effort that celebrated the Rotary program’s 40th anniversary.

The atrial septal defect closure performed on Uerda at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn will add 60 or more years to the little girl’s life, Port Jefferson Rotary member Debbie Engelhardt explained, but the surgery was not available in her home nation.

Engelhardt, who is also the director of the Comsewogue Public Library, said more than 19,000 children from dozens of countries have received life-saving surgeries since the Gift of Life program was born in Suffolk County four decades ago and expanded through Rotary International.

The medical team that took care of Uerda Zena, including Dr. Levchuck second from right, surrounds mom Barbara Zena. Photo from Debbie Engelhardt
The medical team that took care of Uerda Zena, including Dr. Levchuck second from right, surrounds mom Barbara Zena. Photo from Debbie Engelhardt

Rotary groups in the county are still going strong with Gift of Life, which is doubling up its efforts by providing doctors and medical staff in other countries with equipment and training to perform the heart procedures themselves.

“It’s a unique, renowned and respected Rotary-run program,” Engelhardt said.

Dr. Sean Levchuck, the pediatric cardiologist who performed the life-saving procedure on Uerda at St. Francis, described it as minimally invasive. To close the nickel-sized hole, he fed a catheter “the size of a coffee stirrer” into a vein in her leg and up to her heart, where the catheter deployed a device that, once placed in the hole, expanded to plug it. The cardiologist had to position the device properly while Uerda’s heart was still beating, mostly using ultrasound imaging to guide him.

Barbara Zena and daughter Uerda have fun at Chuck E. Cheese. Photo from Joe DeVincent
Barbara Zena and daughter Uerda have fun at Chuck E. Cheese. Photo from Joe DeVincent

The doctor said the procedure took between 45 minutes to an hour and required a team of nurses, an anesthesiologist and techs to assist with the imaging. The hospital donated the use of its facility and staff for the procedure.

Levchuck does about 15 of those procedures a year for Gift of Life, he said, with a fair number of the child recipients coming from Eastern European countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. He also sees kids from places like Haiti and Jamaica.

Just like in those other nations, the procedure to repair a hole in a child’s heart is not available in Kosovo, Levchuck said, because the hospitals don’t have the resources to train their staffs to do it. And the kids who are born with those defects are more prone to pneumonia or respiratory infections, which could also be difficult to treat in a developing nation.

“Problems in this country that are seemingly innocent take a whole new look” in places like Kosovo, the doctor said. But he is willing to help: “Keep ‘em coming. … It’s easy to donate time.”

In Uerda’s case, plenty of Long Islanders donated their time, with many people pitching in to make the girl’s medical procedure a reality. Sayville Rotarian Joe DeVincent wrote letters to get the girl a visa, and she and her mother are staying with a host family in Northport while here. DeVincent has also provided transportation to the Kosovan mother and daughter.

Uerda Zena and mom Barbara are all smiles while in the U.S. to repair the girl's heart defect Photo from Joe DeVincent
Uerda Zena and mom Barbara are all smiles while in the U.S. to repair the girl’s heart defect Photo from Joe DeVincent

The endeavor to save Uerda had an additional element of kids helping other kids — students at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, one of whom is Levchuck’s son, raised funds to bring the girl to the United States from her home in the Kosovan capital, Pristina, where her mother works at a bakery and her father at a public works plant.

“They’re a fine group of students over there that championed a cause,” the doctor said about the St. Anthony’s kids. “When you see something like that, you really get a nice warm feeling about the future.”

Uerda will be staying stateside for a little while longer, and Rotarians are trying to show her a good time. She has already gone on a play date to Chuck E. Cheese and visited a children’s museum, DeVincent said, and this weekend she will go into New York City with her mother and some native Long Islanders to visit Times Square and Rockefeller Center.

“Uerda really enjoys being with her mother,” DeVincent said.

And she has more energy to do these things than before.

After a heart procedure, Uerda Zena is now healthier than ever. Photo from Joe DeVincent
After a heart procedure, Uerda Zena is now healthier than ever. Photo from Joe DeVincent

“Her heart’s working better, her circulation’s better,” the Rotarian said. “The kid generally feels better than she has in her whole life. So this is a very happy story.”

Uerda will also appear at a Taste of Smithtown, an event in St. James on Nov. 17, where there will be food from restaurants along the North Shore. The 10th annual event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz of Smithtown on Middle Country Road and will benefit the Gift of Life program, along with the Smithtown Emergency Food Pantry and the Smithtown Children’s Foundation.

The plan is for the Zenas to head home on Nov. 22, to be reunited with Uerda’s father and her 18-month-old brother.

“Her mother is in touch with her family in Europe through her cell phone and … Uerda has spoken to her brother over the cell phone,” DeVincent said. “She’s actually very maternal toward her younger brother.”

It is a happy ending for both the Kosovo family and Suffolk County Rotarians.

“When you’re doing something like this with an adorable 4-year-old child, it brings you tremendous satisfaction,” DeVincent said. “This is the best way to spread happiness, certainly for these children and their parents but also for yourself. Nothing that I do or have done in my life has brought me as much joy.”

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Rabbi Stephen Karol, Rabbi Sharon Sobel and Rabbi Adam Fisher celebrate. Photo from Iris Schiff

In 1965, a small group of families placed a notice in The Village Times Herald to encourage interested residents to join the new Reform Jewish Congregation. Two years later, the congregation transitioned from working out of the Setauket Neighborhood House to working at its new building, Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook.

Fifty years later, the building, its workers and congregants celebrated the Temple’s 50th from Friday Oct. 23 to Sunday Oct. 25. The festivities started with a potluck dinner at sundown as well as a special service. Alan Goodis served as the entertainment during the celebration. The weekend also included a dessert reception and a Golden Gala.

But the celebration isn’t only about celebrating another year older but also about celebrating the Temple’s founders, taking a stroll down memory lane and acknowledging the Temple beyond the celebration for the Temple’s 50th year.

“It’s really about what we do all year long and how we behave,” Rabbi Sharon Sobel said about the Temple.

In the past 50 years, the Temple established a food pantry had food and blood drives and helped give back to the community with events like Mitzvah Day, which former Board of Trustees President Iris Schiff described as a day where members of the Temple do a good deed for members of the community.

In the past, congregates and individuals who work at the Temple helped build a kitchen on the Shinnecock Reservation according to Schiff. Schiff also said the Temple held a special Mitzvah Day for the adults with disabilities who visit the Temple once or twice a week to help organize the food pantry, file documents, polish areas of the Temple’s sanctuary. According to Schiff these individuals are called “interns” at the Temple.

Sobel, who has served as the Temple’s rabbi since last year, made the suggestion to hold a Mitzvah Day in honor of their “interns.” Not only do they help the Temple, but also some of these interns gained enough experience helping the institution that they have acquired stable jobs themselves.

According to Schiff, who joined the Temple in 1975, the day was a special moment for the parents of these “interns.”

“Their parents were crying because…it was the first time ever…their children were honored for being terrific and for helping,” Schiff said. “They had never been acknowledged before because they are people with disabilities.”

The “interns” and the individuals at the Shinnecock Reservation aren’t the only people the Temple helped or intend to help on the Island. Mitzvah day is an annual event for the Temple. This year, the Temple held its 15th Mitzvah Day on Sunday, May 17. Next year, the Temple is holding the event on May 16. Schiff also added that people in the community who are not necessarily part of the Temple are also recognizing the Temple as an important part of the community. Several business donated money to the Temple in celebration of its 50th year — the money, as well as other donations and money acquired from the membership fee, helps the Temple stay afloat.

Schiff mentioned there’s been a drop in church attendance regardless of the religion. Sobel added that currently the Temple has 330 units — families, couples and singles — who are members of the Temple. She added that former members come back for special events like the Temple’s anniversaries among other events. Despite this, members of the Temple remain excited and pleased about their accomplishments.

“We’re excited [for the 50th anniversary celebration] because we feel proud of what the Temple has done all through the years and what it represents in the community,” Sobel said.

Regardless of attendance and the changes in rabbis in the past 50 years, Schiff added that the Temple has remained the same.

“What hasn’t changed is this organization. We have congregants who are genuine. They come here with really good caring hearts,” Schiff said. “To me that is what religion should really be about — doing unto others. If everybody lived by that golden rule, this [world] would be a wonderful place.”

File photo

The Crab Meadow Golf Course is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.

The town-owned golf course in Northport hosts between 42,000 and 45,000 rounds annually, according to Don McKay, director of parks and recreation for Huntington Town.

“The playing conditions here are outstanding,” McKay said in a phone interview. “There is a very dedicated staff and I think one of the best features of this course is that you have a view of the Long Island Sound from 16 of the 18 holes on the golf course. The views are stupendous.”

McKay has been researching the history of the golf course since its beginnings in the 1920s.

Originally, Crab Meadow Golf Course was part of the Northport Country Club, which was established in the 1920s. McKay believes that world-renowned golf architect Devereux Emmet designed the original course in 1921, and that the membership then was approximately 125 people. The Northport Country Club was abandoned in the 1940s, according to McKay, and he speculates it had to do with the Great Depression.

Then in the 1960s, with Huntington Town Supervisor Robert J. Flynn, the Crab Meadow Golf Course began to develop.

“I say it all the time, if it weren’t for Flynn, we would never have the golf course today, along with many other municipal parks in Huntington,” McKay said. “His vision for Huntington was extraordinary.”

McKay said that in 1961, a $2.5 million bond was put up to vote to Huntington residents to fund a townwide park program. Included in that plan was use of the Crab Meadow property to create a new golf course. The referendum failed, but Flynn did not give up. He got more groups to back his plan, including the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, and was able to get the bond approved the following year in 1962.

Robert J. Flynn Jr. said his father’s greatest pride was knowing how many people enjoyed the town parks and Crab Meadow Golf Course.

“He believed in the importance of recreation,” Flynn said. “His vision was to establish a municipal park program that would last for decades to come.”

According to McKay, once the town made the purchase of the land, the municipality began to restore the course and alter the layout a bit.

William F. Mitchell designed the current course, which officially opened in 1965. It’s an 18-hole course that is 6,574 yards by 5,658 yards and open to the public. There are social clubs at the course, including clubs for men, women and seniors, that anyone is welcome to join. “The club members are the MVPs of the course,” McKay said. There is also a restaurant, concession stand, locker rooms and a pro golf store.

Maureen Lieb worked at the golf course at its inception in the 1960s. She started working for the town in 1964, immediately after she graduated from Suffolk County Community College.

“When the golf course was opening, they asked if I would want to work there,” Lieb said in a phone interview. “It was between being a meter maid or working on the golf course. There wasn’t any question.” She started as a cashier and eventually became the manager.

Lieb said she worked out of a trailer when she first started working for the golf course, because it took another year after the course was opened for the club to be built.

“I always loved my job,” Lieb said. “I was very lucky. I enjoyed the residents the most that came to golf. They were so nice and I’ve actually kept in touch with some I met when I first started working there.” She retired in December 1993.

The Huntington Town Board authorized a special one-day reduced tournament green fee of $25 at the course on Oct. 21, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. The day will also feature reduced fees for golf carts, driving range and food.

Rosamund and Willie Vanderbilt aboard their 264-foot yacht Alva during a 1931 cruise around the world. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum archives

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum will celebrate the 65th anniversary of its official opening on July 6.

William K. Vanderbilt II — great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the railroad and shipping magnate — died in 1944.  His wife Rosamund continued to live in the Vanderbilt Mansion in Centerport until her death in 1947.

He realized the potential for his sprawling estate to become a museum for what he called “the use, education and enjoyment of the general public.” That wish prompted him to leave his estate, and a trust fund to finance its operation, to Suffolk County. The county opened the museum to the public on July 6, 1950.

The anniversary coincides with Arcadia Publishing’s release of “Eagle’s Nest: The William K. Vanderbilt II Estate” by Stephanie Gress, director of curatorial services for the museum. The book is available on the Arcadia Publishing, Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites, in the Vanderbilt Museum Gift Shop and at local bookstores.

Today, the Vanderbilt estate and museum are an important part of Long Island history. It is a destination for regional visitors interested in natural history, the life of the oceans, armchair journeys through space, and the history of the privileged life on the Gold Coast from the Jazz Age through World War II.

The Vanderbilt’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium is another magnet for visitors. The museum decided to add a planetarium in the late 1960s. Trustees knew a planetarium would enhance the museum’s ability to carry out the science education aspect of its mission and to honor Vanderbilt’s love of science and astronomy and his interest in celestial navigation.

A planetarium also would augment the original Vanderbilt trust fund and help to ensure financial sustainability. The planetarium was opened to the public on June 28, 1971.

Vanderbilt — known to family and friends as Willie K. — loved the sea and the natural world. In his global oceanic travels, he collected fish and other marine life, birds, invertebrates and cultural artifacts for the personal museum he planned to build on his Long Island estate.

Willie Vanderbilt exhibited thousands of the marine specimens he had gathered ­— one of the world’s most extensive, privately assembled collections from the preatomic era ­— in his own marine museum, the Hall of Fishes, which he opened to the public in 1922. Wings of the mansion contain galleries of his natural-history and cultural-artifact collections, including the Habitat with its nine wild-animal and marine-life dioramas and eight more in the adjacent Stoll Wing, all created by artisans from the American Museum of Natural History.

The 43-acre waterfront museum complex counts among its extensive collections (which total more than 30,000 objects) the mansion, curator’s cottage, a seaplane hangar and boathouse, centuries-old household furnishings, rare decorative and fine art, the archives and photographic record of Vanderbilt’s circumnavigations of the globe and published books of his travels. The estate, mansion and museum are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Suffolk County Historian Peter Cohalan, flanked by New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and current and former Brookhaven Town officials, cuts a cake in honor of the town’s 360th anniversary. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Brookhaven town officials past and present along with New York’s lieutenant governor came out to celebrate the town’s 360th anniversary on Monday.

“When you think about 360 in geometrical terms, you’ve gone full circle,” Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said on Monday, a day before the town’s April 14, 1655 founding date. “And this town has come full circle since the day six people, one from Southold and five from New England got off a small boat and landed in Setauket and saw land they wanted to make home.”

The first town zoning map, which was created in 1936. Photo by Barbara Donlon
The first town zoning map, which was created in 1936. Photo by Barbara Donlon

The event highlighted the town’s history and featured the original Town of Brookhaven zoning map, a 1936 artifact that doesn’t see the light of day much due to its delicacy, according to Brookhaven Town Historian Barbara Russell. Partygoers, including many local historical societies, also enjoyed a slide show of photos from historic landmarks and homes across the town.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) was also at the party and presented the town with a proclamation of appreciation from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

“I spent the entire day out in Brookhaven [National Lab] then in Stony Brook and stopping in various towns and villages,” Hochul said. “What an amazing quality of life you have here.”

Hochul reflected on celebrating her own town’s 150th anniversary and made jokes about the vast age difference.

Brookhaven Town Board members were also on hand to celebrate the event. Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) who represents the district where the town was founded spoke highly of the celebration.

“Tonight was an evening of celebration and reflection on a rich history in Brookhaven,” Cartright said in an email. “I was extremely honored to be present representing CD-1 and Setauket, where much of Brookhaven’s history originated.”

Town Board members played along with Smithtown’s 350th anniversary celebration Tuesday night, dressing up in outfits similar to those when the town was first founded. Photo by Chris Mellides

By Chris Mellides

Take members of the Smithtown Town Board, dress them up in 17th century garb and the rest is history.

Officials commemorated the town of Smithtown’s 350th anniversary sponsored by the Smithtown 350 Foundation Tuesday with the opening of a time capsule and were joined by residents who braved the snow to attend the event at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts.

Town historian Bradley Harris hosted the night’s proceedings and was joined onstage by Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R) and his colleagues who wore elaborate 17th century period clothing and read passages from the Richard Nicolls Patent of 1665 — which outlined instructions for governance under English rule of what are now the states of New York and New Jersey.

Throughout the presentation Harris and those town officials that participated onstage engaged in playful

Town Board members played along with Smithtown’s 350th anniversary celebration Tuesday night, dressing up in outfits similar to those when the town was first founded. Photo by Chris Mellides
Town Board members played along with Smithtown’s 350th anniversary celebration Tuesday night, dressing up in outfits similar to those when the town was first founded. Photo by Chris Mellides

banter and delivered light-hearted jokes that often got a rise out of the Long Islanders who watched from their seats.

As the night progressed, Harris often pulled from the pages of history and delivered facts about the founding of Smithtown that those in attendance might not have otherwise known.

Despite the witty quips and wisecracks exchanged in the theater room of what used to be a local cinema, the 71-year-old historian and Saint James resident was quite serious and resolute about the importance of preserving history and the passion he holds for his community.

“This town is very interesting because it started with one man’s dream to carve out a niche for himself where he would be his own master and I think that’s [Smithtown founder] Richard Smith in a lot of ways,” Harris said. “He’s left us so many things to venerate.”

During the course of the event, eyes were drawn to a 50-year-old milk can worn with age, which sat to the far right of the stage. The dirtied metal time capsule was originally buried in 1965, and thanks in large part to the town Engineering Department, which had a precise map of its location, its contents were ready to be shared for the first time with audience members.

Town officials and residents were on their feet and the excitement filling the room was palpable. With a hard crack of a hammer, the time capsule was forced open and placed on the long table, where Vecchio and his colleagues were seated.

Among the contents contained within the milk can were: two dusty hats, a phonebook, a local newspaper, a flyer advertising tercentenary pageant tickets and an assortment of aged coins.

James Potts a resident of Smithtown, who has lived in the area for 63 years, was among those in attendance. Potts’ father was the town surveyor, and, due to this, Potts claims to have a very strong knowledge of the town’s history.

Asked about the night’s presentation, Potts said he was very happy with how things shaped up.

“As you can see from how the theater filled up, it shows you the extent of the connection in this town with the residents and basically the pride in the town that they live in,” said Potts.

While he enjoyed the event, Potts expressed some disappointment with the contents of the time capsule and felt as though there could have been more items included that could have better illustrated what life was like on Long Island in the early 1960s.

Town Board members played along with Smithtown’s 350th anniversary celebration Tuesday night, dressing up in outfits similar to those when the town was first founded. Photo by Chris Mellides
Town Board members played along with Smithtown’s 350th anniversary celebration Tuesday night, dressing up in outfits similar to those when the town was first founded. Photo by Chris Mellides

Also expressing his dismay with the time capsule finds was Harris, who as a historian expected a lot more.

“It was the era of Kennedy’s assassination, and I would’ve thought there would have been some commentary on that, but there was nothing and that’s a little disappointing,” said Harris. “The guys who made up the time capsule certainly were trying to stir interest in the past and they did that, but what we learned tonight was very limited.”