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Chris Ryon

The silver maple tree outside Chris Ryon’s home in Setauket rises about 60 feet. Photo by Kyle Barr

Along a small East Setauket street off Shore Road and near Se-Port Deli, a giant stands dying. 

It’s hard to relate just how large it is in words, let alone photos. Nothing does it justice. At approximately 60 feet high and 222 inches in circumference, measured at 4.5 feet off the ground, the enormous silver maple in Setauket is one of the few of its kind that remembers a time potentially up to the Revolutionary period or even further back.

Three-year-old Dina Amelchenko standing in front of the enormous tree in Setauket. Photo by Chris Ryan

Along Carlton Avenue, in front of Chris Ryon’s house, the best way to gauge the size of it is by comparison. Three-year-old neighbor Dina Amelchenko is dwarfed by it. Ryon, at 5 feet, 7 inches tall, can only reach the crook of the lowest branches with the tips of his fingers.  

Ryon, a lifelong area resident and village historian for Port Jefferson and Poquott, has taken care of it for more than two decades. Now its bright bark is flaking off its core, and limbs are starting to tear from the trunk.

“Although the tree has been admired by many, for hundreds of years, it has reached the end of its lifetime,” he said. 

Silver maples once lined the streets in the Setauket community, but the tree is not known for its steadfastness over such a long lifespan. Ryon said almost all have fallen or been removed, though none were anywhere near the size of the one in front of his house.

Ryon and his wife Karen purchased the house in 1996 from Fred and Betty Griffith, he said, which meant they also started taking over care of the tree. Prior to their moving in, the Griffiths had installed three cables connecting six of the giant tree branches together. Since then, the Ryons have paid for trimming the maple and removing any of the dead wood, with the help of neighbors Rich and Jeff Usher. 

Despite these efforts, the tree still seems to be on its last legs. Some of the tree’s limbs have snapped off and crushed a part of the Ryons’ fence. Others could also come loose and damage neighboring homes or cars. 

“We want to document it before it goes, if it does go, since it is unsafe at this point,” Chris Ryon said. “There’s a lot of question marks — we don’t know what the town is going to do with it.”

The race is now on to preserve the great silver maple and find some way to preserve the specimen for future generations.

There are ways to date it, either by bisecting it to count the rings or by coring it using a specially made device, or by carbon dating it. Without state foresters able to take any kinds of measurements, the exact age is still unknown.

John Wernet, the regional state forester of Long Island, said he has had conversations with Ryon but has not been able to go out to see the tree, as the pandemic and state cuts have left him unable to leave his office. Though he said the tree is not the biggest tree of its type in New York state, based solely on its circumference, it could easily be one of the largest on Long Island, if nothing else. 

The state keeps a registry of all large trees, but the list does not offer any kind of protections. 

“It’s more for bragging rights,” he said, adding that there is little he can do on the state side in tree preservation efforts, though he hopes the silver maple can somehow be protected.

Setauket groups are especially keen on preserving local history. with entities like the Three Village Historical Society and its annual Culper Spy Day event. Ryon said the tree could be used by local historical societies, where even a bisection of the tree could show what years showed more or less rain, and even relate which years local or national historical events took place.

The question lingers on what can be done to or for the tree. Three Village Civic Association 1st Vice President George Hoffman said the organization was just recently contacted about it, but said that they want to work with both residents and the town to help preserve the giant maple in some way, shape or form. 

“I know highways [department] have responsibility, but that should be the last resort to take down a tree,” Hoffman said. “We’re here to support the community, but it’s still really early.”

Those in the community who were there in the 1970s are still burned by the loss of another tree, known as the Lubber Street Oak at the corner of Lubber and Black Duck Drive in Stony Brook. According to a bronze plaque residents set up at the site, the tree stood at 84 feet tall with a circumference of 280 inches. It was believed to be over 300 years old when it was taken down by the Town of Brookhaven Highway Department in 1979.

Bill Schaub, the Ryons’ neighbor and member and past president of the civic, said they would like the tree preserved in some way, especially considering residents’ past consternation with local government unilaterally removing those trees without first speaking to residents.

“If it has to be cut down because of disease then that’s understandable, there has to be a balance between beauty and safety,” he said. “But I think we can achieve that.”

A Highway Department spokesperson said the tree was only recently brought to the department’s attention, and no final decision has been made.

Port Jefferson Station LIRR depot

By Daniel Dunaief

The development of steel highways beginning in the early 1800s has had an enormous impact on our society, especially on Long Island, where the Long Island Rail Road was chartered in 1834. To commemorate the 185-year history of trains in Suffolk and Nassau counties, the Port Jefferson Village Center will host a new exhibit titled Railroads: Tracking the History on Long Island from Sept. 5 to Oct. 30.

Sponsored by the Port Jefferson Harbor Education and Arts Conservancy and the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson, the unique show perfectly captures generations of railroad history with unique photos of trains, tracks and commuters from the Village of Port Jefferson archives, the Long Island Railroad Museum and the Queens Public Library’s Digital Collection.

Port Jefferson Station LIRR depot

In addition to the numerous images, the exhibit, which was curated by Port Jefferson village historian Chris Ryon, will also feature artifacts and a 50-foot time line, starting in 1834, that shows the history of a railroad that is the oldest in the country operating under its original name and with its original charter.

Currently, the train system carries over 350,000 commuters back and forth around the area each day, ranking it first among railroads in shuttling commuters.

According to Don Fisher, the president of the Railroad Museum of Long Island, laborers came from numerous countries to build the railroad. Initially, many of the workers were English and German, said Fisher. As more immigrants arrived, the workers included people of Italian and Irish descent as well as African Americans.

The railroad was originally designed to help people travel from New York to Boston. The trains brought people to Orient Point, where they took the ferry to Connecticut, which was harder to cross because many of its rivers didn’t have bridges.

Port Jefferson Station LIRR depot

One of the featured artifacts is a huge lantern that has its own serendipitous story. A resident of Wading River donated the lantern three years ago to the railroad museum. Initially, the railroad experts at the museum weren’t sure where it came from or how old it was. Later, they received a call from a resident of Toms River, New Jersey, who had a picture of a steam engine from the late 1800s. The picture features a kerosene, whale oil-burning lantern that looked incredibly similar to the one donated.

“While this is not the exact same lantern, it likely came off a locomotive like this, so we could make the story come to life,” said Fisher who suggested that the LIRR is “our railroad, which we love to hate.”

While he thinks typical commuters who ride the trains each day may not be as drawn to the exhibit, Fisher expects families with young children enthralled by Thomas the Tank Engine or by stories and photos of railroads may find numerous train treasures at the upcoming exhibit. He also expects that some senior residents will come and reminisce about everything from the horror of a snowstorm to a ride aboard a steamy train without air conditioning on a hot day to stories about friends they met aboard the train.

Port Jefferson Station LIRR depot

“The history of the Long Island Rail Road is the history of Long Island,” said Stephen Quigley, president of the Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, who added that one of the many noteworthy railroad riders includes President Theodore Roosevelt who frequently took the LIRR to Oyster Bay while in office.

Quigley said he plans on contributing memorabilia to the exhibit, including a Dashing Dan logo, which is a popular feature from the 1950s trains. The typical Dashing Dan logo featured a commuter running with a briefcase, with half of his striped tie flying behind his head, as he’s checking his watch. The tagline on the logo was: The Route of the Dashing Commuter, which appeared above an LIRR placard.

The exhibit will also include numerous other versions of the Dashing Dan family, including a Dashing Sportsman, a Dashing Dottie and a Dashing Dan Weekend Chief, which features a commuter heading out aboard the train on the way to the beach.

Fisher and Quigley each have numerous stories about the history of the railroad and of their time aboard the trains.

In more modern times, Fisher said the Oakdale Station has featured at least two weddings. The LIRR has also been the setting for movies. The Mark Wahlberg film “Broken City,” which also stars Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, included scenes filmed aboard a train going back and forth from Long Island City to Montauk. During the filming, the LIRR added two extra cars, Fisher said.

Quigley recalled how one commuter, who had become friends with several other riders during his trek back and forth from Babylon to Mineola, had a baby shower on board the train.

Fisher added that many people are aware of some of the stories related to the Transcontinental Railroad, which involved moving Native Americans and gerrymandering properties. What people don’t often know, however, is that the “shenanigans with Congress and political bodies, the payoffs to get property so the railroad could be built, the sweetheart deals with companies, all happened here [on Long Island] first.”

Railroads, Fisher said, were the “dot.com of the time. Anybody with a few bucks wanted to invest. It was a hot commodity. More people worked for the railroad than any other industry. It was an economic generator.”

The community is invited to an opening reception of the new exhibit on Thursday, Sept. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. Ryon said he hopes to have a panel discussion featuring railroad experts at the reception and is in the process of reaching out to a number of train executives.

The Port Jefferson Village Center, located at 101A East Broadway in Port Jefferson, is open seven days a week, except holidays, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.. For more information, call 631-802-2160.

Photos  from the Kenneth Brady Collection

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Cadets in the Naval Academy’s Summer Navigation and Seamanship Training Block toss a line as they prepare to dock in Port Jeff Harbor Aug. 8. Photo by Kyle Barr

From the west, a storm came in. Five U.S. Navy boats watched the clouds sweep in from the opposite direction they sailed, with lightning flicking out of dark skies. 

With the direction of the officers on the small 44-foot crafts, they knew what to do.

Two made it into Port Jefferson Harbor through the night of Aug. 7, while the other three stayed out in the Sound beyond the harbor. People on the vessel Valiant said they saw gusts of wind driving them at 38 knots, then staying in the mid 20s for a time after that. With two reefs in the mainsail and no jib, the boat, carrying eight midshipmen and two other officers, was as light and fast as a bird over a rough swell.

The Intrepid sailing into Port Jeff Harbor on Aug. 8. Photo by Kyle Barr

“We did hit that storm for a little while; for an hour and a half it was pretty rough,” said senior officer first class Joe Llewellyn, laughing, “It was a bit of a thrill … these guys,” he looked to the other young midshipmen, “handled the boat great though.”

The rapid entry into Port Jefferson Harbor was part of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Summer Navigation and Seamanship Training Block, where Lt. Matt Vernam, a commanding officer on one of the vessels, took around 40 young midshipmen (despite the name, it consists of both men and women) from Annapolis, Maryland, to Delaware Bay into New York City Harbor, where the cadets watched the Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower roll by, before climbing up the Hudson and visiting the USS Intrepid. The boats then sailed down the East River and made good sail until they came outside Port Jefferson during the storm. 

The program that Vernam helps run, called the Offshore Sail Training Squadron, is meant to give cadets a leadership experience. Four midshipmen are up on deck at a time and are instructed to listen to advice as they carry out operations of the vessel, even getting the vessel safely into dock through their own muscle and sweat.

“We try to let these guys run the boat and exercise leadership,” Vernam said. 

George Hoffman, cofounder of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, had helped suggest Port Jeff as a place the sailors could visit on their tour. When the boats came in the Thursday morning, they did so with a police boat escort.

Vernam, a graduate of Shoreham-Wading River High School and a Wading River native, said it was nice to be back to his home on the North Shore. His father, Don Vernam, was acting on the Valiant as a civilian volunteer, and his family reunion would include his mother who came up to greet them both on the harbor.

“It’s nice having two local bodies to plan this,” he said.

Rob LoScalzo, a Wading River resident, helped contact the Navy to have the midshipman take their boats into Port Jefferson. His son Mike, a fellow SWR graduate, had just graduated from the Navy academy in May. 

LoScalzo said he has been trying to get the Navy to Long Island for years, originally trying with the Village of Patchogue but the keel was too long for the harbor. 

“With all the naval history that’s around here, with the Culper Spy Ring, to the Taylor Brewster, to the shipbuilding — its rich history — we’re just so excited that we could piece it together.”

The Town of Brookhaven allowed the visitors to use the dock space, and the public was able to visit for tours on the vessels.  

People on the Port Jefferson Tall Ship Committee, who have been working to bring tall, masted sailing ships into Port Jefferson Harbor, watched the tall ship Lady Maryland sail away on the morning’s tide, listening for the cannon shot to announce its departure. Chris Ryon, village historian, said he expects the historical schooner Amistad to make its appearance once again in PJ Harbor some time in the near future.

 

This past weekend, Port Jeff residents got a glimpse of a historical schooner in the harbor. Photo by David Luces

With her twin, slanted masts, the 120-foot schooner Amistad, a replica of a famed 19th century ship, rose from Port Jefferson Harbor like a ghost of history the weekend of July 19.

It’s a ghost that has haunted Port Jeff in the past, as local historians and sailing enthusiasts try to bring a tall ship into harbor.

“This harbor was filled with schooners back in the 1800s. We would love to bring those masts back [to Port Jefferson],” said Chris Ryon, Port Jefferson village historian. “We found out they [Amistad] were in Greenport and they were like ‘Can we stop by?’ and we said sure.”

Ryon and other schooner enthusiasts have been trying to bring a tall ship back to Port Jeff Harbor for quite some time. Together they set up the Port Jeff Tall Ship Committee, a subset of the Port Jefferson Harbor Education & Arts Conservancy as well as creating the Port Jeff Maritime Facebook page in an effort to advertise for interested tall ships.

The Amistad at the village dock July 19. Photo by David Luces

One of those interested tall ships was the Amistad, which briefly made an appearance this past weekend at the village dock. The ship is a re-creation of the famed African slave ship where Mende captives from Sierra Leone rebelled against their captors and took control of the ship in 1839. Unable to navigate back to Africa, the ship was towed into port in New London Harbor, Connecticut. The captives were faced with execution or slavery, but their case for freedom was supported by many throughout the state. The U.S. Circuit and District courts ruled in the Mende’s favor, and the Mende would eventually gain their freedom with a final decision by the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the lower court’s decision in 1841. Georgette Grier-Key, Long Island history initiative director at Nassau Community College, had the chance to tour the Amistad, where she also showed the ship’s crew historical memorabilia from that time. She said tall ships are something the greater Port Jeff community could really benefit from.

“It would be great to have that history there, they [schooners] are so beautiful to see in the harbor,” she said. “The Amistad has a great legacy and it is critically important to tell the story. I really hope they can get a ship there.”

The crew of the Amistad was impressed with what Port Jeff had to offer.

“This is a beautiful waterfront. There’s no question in my mind that you guys need an attraction vessel. This town needs it,” said Chris Stirling, captain of the Amistad.

During the summer, the Amistad goes from port to port providing dockside programs where they show patrons the ship and tell them the history behind the vessel. In the evening, the New Haven-based ship does a sunset sail where they take people out on the water to watch the sunset.

Ryon said they’re continuing the quest to get tall ships in the harbor and the Amistad could potentially be one of those ships.

“The owner is up in Connecticut — we have been talking. She seems very interested,” the village historian said.

Stirling said when traditional boats come into port it is an attraction.

“Everybody gets jazzed; they love it,” he said.

The captain of the Amistad said he thinks a boat like theirs can come to Port Jeff and do stuff periodically but mentioned the need for the village to have a flagship vessel.

This past weekend, Port Jeff residents got a glimpse of a historical schooner in the harbor. Photo by David Luces

Back in March, the village had announced negotiations with the Halie & Matthew, a 118-foot-long schooner originally set to dock in Port Jefferson Harbor. But village officials said negotiations fell through when the schooner company, Maine Windjammers Inc., wanted to work the vessel partly as a restaurant, operating outside the normal hours of the pier.

“When the Halie and Matthew deal fell through, we said ‘Let’s not sit here with an egg on our face and let’s try to get someone in here,’” Ryon said.

Ryon said they have been reaching out to the schooner community for a while now and have made it known they are interested in getting a ship in the harbor and are offering a free dock.

“We’re working on it; there are no promises on anything,” he said. “It’s fine on our side. It’s a big boat, that’s the issue — it’s really up to them.”

The village historian mentioned that ideally a ship around 70 feet would be a good size for the dock. Ryon said it may be a little tight for the Amistad to maneuver as it is a 120-foot ship and the water is a little shallower.

There are plans to use committee member Jason Rose’s own still-to-be-reconstructed schooner, Elizabeth, as a placeholder at
the dock.

Rose said he hopes to be able to take the Elizabeth out in the water in the next couple of weeks.

“It would be great to have another schooner join the Elizabeth here,” he said.

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The Schooner Elizabeth will be used as a placeholder at the village dock. Photo from Jason Rose

Port Jefferson residents continue to look toward the harbor expecting to see masts of a tall ship high above the surrounding buildings, but they may have to wait for a while longer.

The Amistad will make a brief appearance in Port Jefferson Harbor July 18. Photo by Chris Ryon

Back in March, the village had announced negotiations with The Halie & Matthew, a 118-foot-long schooner originally set to dock in Port Jefferson Harbor. It was the result of months of work by the Port Jefferson Harbor Education & Arts Conservancy and local maritime enthusiasts, but village officials said negotiations fell through when the schooner company, Maine Windjammers Inc., wanted to work the vessel partly as a restaurant, operating outside the normal hours of the pier.

“We’re like, nope, absolutely not,” said Mayor Margot Garant at a July 15 village meeting. ”The pier closes at dusk … The tone and tenor of that agreement changed so drastically that it just fell apart.”

Village Attorney Brian Egan confirmed the scope of the operation the schooner company desired was inconsistent with what the village originally intended, that the ship would be used for tours and as a promotional platform for the village. Port Jefferson would have given the boat exclusive access to one side of the pier near Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park for four years.

However, the search for tall ships in the harbor is far from over, at least according to Port Jefferson village historian Chris Ryon. 

Ryon and other enthusiasts had set up the Port Jefferson Tall Ship Committee, a subset of the conservancy, to bring a tall ship to the harbor. Ryon said he was unfazed by the setback, saying they already have other plans in the works. The village historian and other committee members set up the Port Jeff Maritime Facebook page to advertise for additional tall ships, from which he said they have received several offers.

“We’re opening up the dock for free to schooners and are saying ‘come on down,”
he said.

These plans include using fellow committee member Jason Rose’s own still-to-be-reconstructed schooner, Elizabeth, as a placeholder at the dock site.

“[Rose] is a very altruistic person,” Ryon said. “He really wants that schooner to be a part of Port Jeff.”

The Amistad will make a brief appearance in Port Jefferson Harbor July 18. Photo by Chris Ryon

Ryon, who attended the July 15 meeting, said there were two ships they were looking at, one being the Amistad, a re-creation of the famed African slave ship where slaves rebelled against their captors in 1839. Famously, the slaves would eventually gain their freedom in court after being brought into New London Harbor in Connecticut. The ship will dock for a brief time Thursday, July 18, while the ship’s crew takes measurements of the dock.

Another ship, the schooner SoundWaters, has also been in talks with Ryon, Rose and the tall ship committee about docking in the harbor for a yet undetermined space of time.

In anticipation of the Hallie & Matthew, the village hooked up the dock to be used by the schooner with electricity, but whichever ship next moors there would be able to use it.

The dock in question currently only contains the Stony Brook University-owned Seawolf, which resides on the dock’s west edge. There is currently no other boat residing on the east edge.

Ryon added the Port Jefferson Yacht Club has made its own dock available should the village wish to house two tall ships at the same time. The club’s dock is actually deeper than the village-owned dock, the village historian said. The yacht club’s dock is 11 feet deep at dead low waters, while the village-owned dock is 5½ feet deep at dead low closest to the shore.

The owners of a historic mansion in Poquott, above, are doing their best to prevent land developers from purchasing it. Photo from Chris Ryon

The owners of a historic mansion in Poquott are hoping history won’t be lost when they sell the home which their family has maintained for more than 70 years.

Located on Van Brunt Manor Road, the mansion, which was built in 1893 and is part of the Benner-Foos-Ceparano Estate, was added to both the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places in August 2016 along with a neighboring farmhouse built in 1895 on Osprey Lane. The first homes in Poquott to be added to the registries, they are surrounded by houses constructed in the mid-to-late 20th century.

Rosemarie Sabatelli, who owns the mansion along with her sisters Felicia and Christina, said it has been difficult to find a buyer. In addition to interested parties offering less than the nearly $4 million asking price, Sabatelli said another factor is the family doesn’t want to sell the mansion to a land developer who may tear down the home, which is structurally sound. Most recently, she said she was wary of a potential buyer who wasn’t concerned with securing a house inspection, which led her to believe he was a developer who had no intent in keeping the home intact.

Chris Ryon, village historian for both Poquott and Port Jefferson, said while the mansion is on the registries for historic places, the recognition only protects it from various types of federal construction such as a new roadway, but not developers.

“It was my grandmother’s dream house so I feel like it’s ours,” Sabatelli said. “My mission is to make sure her legacy and the house go on.”

Ryon said local historians as well as representatives from the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities have come to look at the mansion.

A photo from the early 1900s of the Poquott mansion when it was used as a summer home. Photo from Port Jefferson Village archive

“We want as many eyes on it as we can,” he said. “We want people to know that this house is here and it’s significant.”

When the mansion was built in 1893, Charles Benner, a New York City lawyer, was searching for a summer retreat where he could spend his days fishing and yachting, according to Ryon. It was a time when Long Island was less hectic than the bustling city. Two years later the farmhouse was constructed where the Benner family’s servants lived.

The historian said the house is architecturally significant as Charles Alonzo Rich and Hugh Lamb designed it. The duo were known for their work with President Theodore Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill in Cove Neck near Oyster Bay as well as many of the buildings at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

A shingle-style structure with asymmetrical elements such as end gables, the mansion features a bowed footprint that overlooks Port Jefferson Harbor.

“I haven’t found anything with that shape to it,” Ryon said. “So it’s unique.”

A banker by the name of Ferguson Foos bought the property in 1909 and maintained ownership until 1944 when Sabatelli’s grandparents, Joseph and Rose Ceparano, bought it. She said the life of her grandmother, who was a seamstress, was a rags-to-riches tale.

After hearing stories about America, Rose married so as to be able to emigrate from Italy to the United States in 1928, since she would not be able to come here as a single woman. When the marriage failed, she married her second husband, Joseph. Soon after they bought the Benner home, Rose opened the original Schooner Restaurant in Port Jefferson, the eatery known for being a converted sailing vessel, and owned it for a few years.

Sabatelli and her sisters would visit from Flushing, Queens in the summers and play and run around the three floors of the mansion as well as the 18 acres of land. She said coming to her grandmother’s home in the 1970s was like being in a sanctuary. In 1980 after her father’s death, Sabatelli, along with her sisters and mother Mary moved in with her grandmother, who died in 1989.

The mansion remained in the family after Rose’s death, and Mary became known in the area as a philanthropist, humanitarian and businesswoman, who organized many events at the home including fundraisers for John T. Mather Memorial Hospital and the Suffolk County Police Emerald Society Pipe Band.

Sabatelli and Ryon said they think the mansion represents a time when the affluent would vacation on Long Island, and it’s important to save the reminder of a simpler time. They believe that many feel the same way.

“We love looking back at the past,” Ryon said. “Once it’s gone, that’s it. It was the past, and you just erased a piece of it. Part of it is that we can’t get it back, and people love houses like that. It takes them back in time. A time that they remember or time they would like to remember.”

Chris Ryon photo from Naomi Solo

By Naomi Solo

Chris Ryon has officially been appointed Village Historian for the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson. Chris brings to this position a very interesting historical story. His parents were introduced to one another by Rob Sisler who was the village’s first historian. At the time Chris’ father had been teaching in Port Jefferson High School along with Rob. Chris’ mother Theora Newcomb was a personal family friend. Theora’s father and his brother Spurge owned the very well known Newcomb Brothers Automobile dealership located where the present ferry dock is.

Back in the 1980s I was fortunate to interview Andrew Newcomb, Chris’ grandfather. I was doing research on the building of the schooner Palestine. I got some of my earliest history lessons of the village from him.

Chris’ interest in our local history comes naturally to him because he was raised in a family where history was the conversation during dinner. Chris has for several years been the historian for the Village of Poquott. His appointment to this additional position comes at a time when he has just retired from a career in teaching and is excited about the possibilities of expanding and enriching the Archive of Port Jefferson Village.

To that purpose he cordially invites any residents in the area to stop by the Archive room in the Port Jefferson Village Center on Saturdays or Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon and share stories and/or photos with him.  He fully realizes that the enrichment of the Archive room necessitates villagers’ participation and he is eager to talk to many of you.    

Chris succeeds Ken Brady who held the position and was largely responsible for the development and rich holdings that the Archive room now possesses. Ken welcomed one and all from Port Jeff and surrounding communities to drop in and visit to share old photos and to chat. Chris wants to follow that same pattern.  Preceding Ken Brady in that position was Rob Sisler, and it was Rob’s idea that the Village Center have a Mezzanine/Gallery. Because of this we are able to have continuing art and historical exhibits. It is through Rob’s efforts that two of our historic buildings were moved and restored and have become the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce office and the Zinna house at West Broadway.

  In chatting with Chris, he said that history exists in the rich memories of the families living in and around the village. For the 150th anniversary of Cedar Hill Cemetery Chris worked on the photo exhibit. Recently my husband has passed away and when I go up to Cedar Hill I see so many of the local family names. I learned most of their histories  from Ken and Chris.

A historian’s job goes beyond simple knowledge and is enriched by the contributions including stories and photos that provide a more complete picture. The job of a historian is to be the gatherer of information where people can come and share their stories.

Those wishing to speak with Chris are welcome to call 631-802-2165 and/or email him at [email protected]