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East Main Street

A look inside the new Sue La La Couture on E Main Street. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Originally located at 1506 Main Street in Upper Port, Sue La La Couture decided to move down to E Main Street for a new opportunity.

Although the East Main location is a bit smaller, owner Sue Gence said the new space will give her more exposure and have a different atmosphere than her former spot.

“I was waiting for uptown to change,” she said. “But after four years, nothing was done and my landlord was selling the building.”

Gence said she had the opportunity to stay at the old store, but she took it as a sign for her to make a change, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I was closed for nine months,” she said. “I survived somehow.”

Known for selling dresses for prom, Sweet 16s, homecoming, flower girls, bridesmaids and mothers of the brides, the pandemic hit her business since all of those events were cancelled.

But Gence is feeling hopeful now that the vaccines are here and things are beginning to open back up.

“I feel like everybody wants to get out of the house and wants to celebrate something,” she said. “This season is actually really, really, really busy — especially down here.”

The old Sue La La Couture closed on Dec. 31 and reopened next to the former Max & Millie storefront in mid-January. 

Gence, a Rocky Point resident, said she opened the store when she was just 33 because she loved glitter and making other women feel beautiful. 

“Eventually I want to design my own clothes and create my own brand,” she said. 

Sue La La Couture is open five days a week — closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays — by appointment only.

Marianne Hennigar inside her new office on E Main Street in Port Jefferson. Photo by Julianne Mosher

There’s a new approach to releasing trauma and alleviating pain management. 

Marianne Hennigar, a pain specialist with certification in clinical massage and specialist in guided focus therapies, is making it her goal to give people support on their emotional journeys and simply feel better. 

The owner of a new space, located at 156 E Main Street in Port Jefferson, her office is tucked away on the busy main road. Through the gates, walking down toward the door of Insight Healing Ministries, visitors are greeted by Hennigar, who’s energy immediately makes them feel at ease. 

Her job as a health and wellness coach is to heal her clients and help make changes in their lives. 

“I collaborate with the client so that I’m not telling them what to do, because we want them to comply,” she said. “It’s a very non-bossy way of helping people.”

Hennigar has had an interesting career. Since 1994, she had been a clinical and orthopedic massage therapist. Although she doesn’t do massage anymore, she is still a pain specialist who is able to target different ailments through talk therapy and hands-on work.

“You have your general practitioner doctor, and then you have your surgeon who does something very specific,” she said. “I’m the surgeon in that case.” 

She said that she can help combat things like chiropractic care gone bad, or issues that aren’t being resolved through physical therapy.

“I’m really able to mobilize people’s tissues and help them get back into alignment, and live a more painful and free life,” she said, “But also give them instruction, and guidance on how they might want to use their body differently, so that they keep themselves out of pain, and they gain the strength they need.”

With certification from the Mayo Clinic, Hennigar helps build a plan that can work to the client’s individual needs. Some topics she’s successfully helped others with are cutting down on or stopping smoking, increasing nutrition and losing weight, changing toxic habits and getting more movement in their daily routine.

Hennigar uses guided focus therapies, including Somatic Experiencing and Brainspotting — both body-based modalities which support the client harnessing their own internal wisdom through focus to discover healing — to help people deal with trauma. 

“Basically, I’m  a one-stop shop for wellness,” she said. “And I will do a mix of all those modalities.”

If that wasn’t enough, she said she’s also working on her master’s in psychology from Liberty University.

But this isn’t a new hobby, she said. 

Since childhood, Hennigar has been fascinated by how people work. A speaker of several languages, Hennigar moved with family to Europe at 8 years old. Raised on the Island of Crete and in Spain, she realized early on that she wanted to help people feel good and live their lives to their fullest. 

When she came back to the states in her teenage years, she began working toward her practices, gradually adding more services and certifications, while raising her family.

She had a practice in Atlanta for 13 years, and then moved to Arkansas. This past summer, she and her husband moved to Coram and chose Port Jefferson village as her new office space in January.

“I love that we’ve been able to build the energy in here,” she said. “I love how it feels down here, and I needed to be in a population center where there’s a lot of people coming in and out. I wanted to be a part of a community and Port Jeff just felt right.”

Hennigar said the space is designed for play. Inside the office are dozens of different stations where the client can focus on objects through vision or touch, or a place where they can meditate. 

“The sky is the limit with this work,” she said.

Right now, many of Hennigar’s clients are utilizing telehealth, but she is accepting in-person appointments. First sessions are free, and payments are made through a donation box in the front.

“I accept donations, because people will come with all different economic abilities,” she said. “I offer them to go ahead and just make any type of offering that’s comfortable to them … The most important thing is that we get you to feeling better.”

Hennigar said that anyone who can use a little support, and who could use a peace of mind can seek her services.

“I love seeing people grow,” she said. “And even though a lot of this work is based on trauma models, what you really often want to see is people growing and blossoming, and for certain people, they come to a greater sense of their spiritual self, which really makes them happy because they feel connected.”

For more information, visit insighthealingministries.com or call Marianne at 404-944-8397.

Bill and Lauren Brown, the new owners of SkinMed Spa in Port Jefferson. Photo by Julianne Mosher

A new spa has opened up Down Port, but it’s different than the rest.

Lauren Brown, a village resident and registered cosmetic nurse, decided during the COVID-19 pandemic that she wanted to own her own space. 

“I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” she said. “The pandemic just got me reevaluating life and seeing what really matters and where my passions are.”

With her husband, Bill, on board to help, Brown officially took over the former Max & Millie storefront at 142 E Main Street in February. She said it felt like destiny.

In the industry for eight years, Brown has worked for dermatologists and plastic surgeons. While in those offices, she noticed that patients were tired of taking medications, antibiotics and putting chemicals into their skins. 

“I thought about it and there are so many great, all-natural treatments out there and other things that we can do instead of always loading ourselves up with medicine,” she said. 

So that’s when she got to work.

After finding the space in January, and signing the lease a month later, she and her husband completely revamped inside the former clothing boutique that closed in December. 

“I’ve noticed that a lot of the businesses that do really well around here are many of these holistic businesses, because people are looking for more natural treatments to take care of their skin,” she said. 

SkinMed Spa offers all the things that a typical spa doesn’t bring to the table. 

“We are a place that offers all-natural rejuvenation services that are really targeting conditions of the hair, skin and nails,” Brown said.

An inside look at SkinMed Spa in Port Jefferson. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Some treatments are for thinning hair, hair loss, acne and its scars, facial rejuvenation for fine lines and the breakdown of collagen. Brown said that SkinMed Spa is a place where troublesome issues can be fixed.

“If you actually have something going on in your skin, or you’re trying to maintain your skin to keep it up, this is the place for you,” she said. “I just wanted to offer a very calming and relaxing environment where people could just come and look around and even ask questions.”

Brown said her spa is a place where there is no judgement. Part of her store is an apothecary where she will sell affordable skin products that won’t break the bank.

“We sell affordable skincare products that are all natural that don’t have any dyes, sulfates or chemicals in them,” she said. “And customers can actually sit down with someone who knows about skin, and that I can help guide them in the right place to help treat some of these conditions.”

SkinMed Spa officially opened its doors on April 1 and since then, Brown has already gotten dozens of happy clients.

“What I’ve noticed over the last two weeks is everyone that I’ve been treating — within 24 hours — their relative or best friend is booking a treatment which honestly makes me feel over the moon,” she said. “I’m not just trying to do a facial treatment. I really wanted to have people’s skin be transformed and be happy with it.”

Bill said the services his wife offers are medical grade.

“You’re getting that kind of quality without going to a doctor’s office,” he said. “You’re getting real quality service in a more boutique kind of fashion.”

Some of the services include micro needling, which helps regenerate cells, plasma lifts, microdermabrasion, dermaplane, jet peels and no-needle lip plumping with hyaluronic acid.

“I wanted it to be almost like when you’re walking in the city, and you find like a really cool, swanky place,” she said.

But without the price tag. Brown said the services offered are a fraction of the cost compared to a doctor’s office.

“I wanted to be different where people could escape and you could think about yourself for a little bit,” she said. “How many how often do we put ourselves first? This is a place where you can relax, you can turn everything off, focus on yourself for a good hour, and go home with some stuff that makes you feel happy without spending a ton of money.”

SkinMed Spa is taking appointments online. To book, visit skinmedspapj.com.

“If it’s not the right service for you, we’ll talk about it,” Brown said. “It’s not we’re not going to just do something if it’s not right for your skin.”

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BiblioFlames and Breathe Inspiring Gifts are among the places in Port Jefferson Village cited by Village Center building manager Bob Hodum as hotbeds for paranormal activity. Photo by Kyle Barr

There are the old stories told only in whispers, and then there are the legends, which hide in the dark corners of local homes and shops. Port Jefferson has a long history, and such a village always has one foot in modern times with compelling ghost stories of days gone by constantly trailing in its wake.

Bob Hodum, the building manager of the Port Jefferson Village Center, annually takes willing participants on a ghost tour of the village to peer into its haunted past. Back in the days when Port Jeff was known as Drowned Meadow, a port settlement with a thriving shipbuilding industry and only a few shops to its name, spirits made their way into the woodwork of these lasting structures, according to Hodum. In the 19th century there was no Main Street as it’s known today, and instead East Main Street was considered the real commercial district.

BiblioFlames and Breathe Inspiring Gifts are among the places in Port Jefferson Village cited by Village Center building manager Bob Hodum as hotbeds for paranormal activity. Photo by Kyle Barr

All along East Main Street, stories abound about a haunted past. Jena Turner, the owner of Breathe Inspiring Gifts, which sells a number of spiritual items — such as crystals, minerals, tarot cards, incense and oils — said she has sensed a number of spirits who live in her store. One she and her friends named George or The Captain and another they named Charles. Another apparition once came into the store just a few months after Turner moved in 2009, a Mae West-looking woman they dubbed The Madam, she said.

“The day I came to look at the building I sensed it right away,” Turner said. “One day I felt like I was pushed, and I broke a mirror. Another day I was in a store with a customer, it sounded like somebody was trying to get out of the bathroom. The mirror came off the wall and landed on the floor. … There’s an office door next to cash register which opens at random times and freaks people out.”

During the 1930s, the space that Turner occupies was a bar, Hodum said, which gained the gruesome name The Bucket of Blood because of the number of fights started by sailors and shipwrights. Hodum added legends say the local village doctor was a regular attendant to those hurt in fights at The Bucket of Blood, and those who survived his treatment were offered a free drink.

“The place was a real dive — men fought all the time in it, and knives were their weapon of choice,” Hodum said.

The house across the street from Breathe was owned by a man named Capt. George Washington Brewster, a well-known mariner of the mid-19th century, Hodum said. Turner suspected his spirit must be the one making an appearance, perhaps among others who once visited the saloon. Despite the spirits being hosted in the building, she said she feels the ghosts aren’t malicious, and they add a little bit to the atmosphere of her shop.

Many other buildings on East Main Street belong to the late-19th and early 20th centuries. In the shop now occupied by BiblioFlames, a book-inspired candle shop on East Main Street, Hodum told another story of Lee Jong, an amiable laundryman and Chinese immigrant to Port Jefferson. Jong was known as a model citizen, and often gave refuge to people down on their luck. That is how he came into contact with John Rys, who was given space by Jong after the young man found himself homeless. Rys later went on a robbing spree, which Jong found out about and subsequently told the police. As Rys was being led away, he vowed revenge on his benefactor.

“One day I felt like I was pushed, and I broke a mirror. Another day I was in a store with a customer, it sounded like somebody was trying to get out of the bathroom. The mirror came off the wall and landed on the floor.”

— Jena Turner

The robber got his revenge in 1922 by murdering Jong in his own shop, according to Hodum. The crime was witnessed by a woman in the shop next door, and he was sentenced to death at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining. Both Rys and his accomplice John Emieleta were put to death in 1925 via the electric chair, gravely given the sobriquet “sparky.”

Sometimes Hodum said people can still hear Jong in his shop, continuing his lifelong profession by ironing shirts.

Hodum told another story of a lurid murder spree by Henry Walters of his wife Elizabeth Darling-Walters and her son-in-law over the family’s inheritance in 1857. The tragedy took place near the site of the Port Jefferson Power Station. Emmet Darling, the youngest member of the household, survived and managed to escape. Knowing that he would most likely be caught, Walters hung himself, according to Hodum. If you listen on a cold November day, some locals still say they hear the murderer’s voice.

“In November, when the murder took place, in the evening you can actually hear Walters moaning, where he’s crying about the fact that he would be discovered, and how sorry he was for it,” the building manager said.

Hodum hosted ghost tours to help promote the Port Jefferson Conservancy and the Village Center’s Haunted Mansion night Saturday, Oct. 27. The night will included fun and scares for all ages, mad scientists, ghosts, spooky fortune tellers and more. 

The funds raised by the event will go toward supporting the conservancy.

Patty Lutz, manager of Fetch Doggy Boutique & Bakery. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Kyle Barr

As it does every day in the summer, the Bridgeport to Port Jefferson ferry lowers its huge drawbridge door to reveal a host of cars growling like they are about to stampede into the town. Instead, they file out one by one. Every car is greeted with Port Jefferson’s Main Street and its stores lined up on both sides of the road like a buffet.

Unknown to many tourists though, only a few yards from the ferry dock and Main Street, stores offer a whole host of out-of-the-ordinary services from spiritual crystals to handmade jewelry. Almost all the stores on East Main Street are owned or operated by women, and they have developed a communal sense of offbeat character. Most of the owners believe it’s what keeps them alive.

“If they want to be successful on East Main Street they have to be different and unique,” owner of Pattern Finders & Stacy’s Finds on East Main Street Stacy Davidson said during an interview. “I think at this point the stores we have now, I can’t see any of us having a problem.”

Anna Radzinsky, co-owner of The Barn. Photo by Kyle Barr

Davidson has owned Pattern Finders for 23 years, and in that time she had to reinvent herself to keep up with the times. Now her store is a boutique that sells different and unique sets of clothing, dresses, jewelry and other home items.

Many of the stores on East Main host classes inspired by what they sell. The Knitting Cove, owned by Toni Andersen and her partner Barry Burns, is one of those stores. Along with the specialty yarn offered in the shop, the store also hosts classes for experienced and beginner knitters or “knit-alongs” where customers all try to complete a design using whatever choices of yarn they want.

Breathe Inspiring Gifts sells a number of spiritual items, such as crystals, minerals, tarot cards, incense, oils and many others. A door in the shop empties into another large room where owner Jena Turner does meditation and yoga sessions every day of the week.

“Some people don’t even know this street exists — isn’t that crazy?” Turner said. “I love it, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. Main Street gets more foot traffic because there are more tourists who know of it, but there are a lot more Long Islanders aware of East Main Street.”

One consistent aspect of daily life East Main Street stores face is they do not depend nearly as much on tourists as they do on Long Islanders, specifically the regular customers that they come to know well.

Joann Maguire, the owner of Max & Millie Women’s Fashion boutique on East Main sees her store as dedicated to her regular customers. In the 13 years she’s owned the store, she said she has learned regulars keep her in business.

“Most of my customers are local residents and what I mean by that is from the Commack area or the Hamptons,” she said. “They come out here for dinner and then they find me. And then they become regulars. I’m a destination store, not a tourist store.”

In Fetch Doggy Boutique & Bakery, manager Patty Lutz is often there talking extensively with the customers she knows well.

Susan Rodgers, owner of Susan Rodgers Designs. Photo by Kyle Barr

“Last night, I was home and it was 8 [p.m.] and a customer called me regarding their dog; their dog wasn’t feeling good, and their vet had closed,” she said. “You know what I mean, like there’s no cut out. We have hours that the store is open; but, if someone needs to talk to me and they have my number, they’re always welcome to call.”

Some of the shop owners on East Main sell products produced by hand, often in their own studios. Anna Radzinsky, the co-owner of The Barn, sells custom woodwork and signs. She also takes old furniture like wardrobes and cabinets, refinishes them and puts her own designs on them. At the same time her partner, Shawn Keane, does landscaping and completed the small garden laid into the bricks just outside of her shop.

Susan Rodgers of Susan Rodgers Designs traveled the country for 15 years selling her artwork in art shows. When eventually it came time to settle down in order to sell her work and the work of her friends, she chose East Main Street because she said it feels like what she imagined a small town to be.

“I think people are tired of things being the same,” Rodgers said. “The cookie-cutter sacrificing quality, and I think people are beginning to realize, compared to big box stores, the link to an individual person.”

Business on East Main is rarely stagnant. Miranda Carfora, a young entrepreneur, said she soon plans to open a store on East Main Street called BiblioFlames that will sell books and candles inspired by books. 

“It’s really hard for independent bookstores, but I’m hoping that since I tied in my candles into the books I’ll have more customers that way,“ she said.

Carfora fits right into the scene that exists on East Main Street. Though the future for perspective small-business owners is always uncertain, Davidson’s advice for someone opening a shop on East Main Street is rather simple.

“Be unique,” she said. “You have to be unique and have what nobody else has.”

One of the three cars involved in the Centerport crash. Photo from Centerport Fire Department.
One of the three cars involved in the Centerport crash. Photo from Centerport Fire Department.

Members of the Centerport Fire Department responded to a three-vehicle crash on East Main Street and North Drive Jan. 25 at about 12:40 p.m.

Centerport firefighters and EMS volunteers were on the scene with a heavy rescue truck, engine, two ambulances and fire police, under the direction of First Assistant Chief Rich Miltner.  An additional ambulance was requested from the Greenlawn Fire Department.
Three injured patients were transported to Huntington Hospital by the Centerport and Greenlawn rescue squads.

 

Louise Brett explains a painting of a ship called the Enchantress. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Louise Brett often paints and draws scenes from the past — a horse walking through the Belle Terre gate, ships in Port Jefferson Harbor, a buggy on East Main Street and the cottages at West Meadow Beach.

The area “is changing so fast,” she said. “I wanted to show everyone what it looked like when I was here.”

Louise Brett does drawings of the area in the past, including this one of a horse walking through the Belle Terre gate. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Louise Brett does drawings of the area in the past, including this one of a horse walking through the Belle Terre gate. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Some of Brett’s works are on display in Edna Louise Spear Elementary School, in the same room the Board of Education uses for its meetings. At the last session, the district presented Brett, who attended the high school but did not graduate, with a certificate of recognition and she received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Brett said in an interview at her home that the acknowledgement was exciting.

It isn’t the first time her work has been displayed — her paintings of a Victorian Port Jefferson appeared on the covers of the Charles Dickens Festival guides for 2006 and 2007. Under sunset skies, she included characters found in both Dickens novels and the village.

Brett, 83, was born in Old Field and moved to Port Jefferson 10 years later. She said she has always been able to draw well, but didn’t always have the resources — including pencils and paper. When she was growing up during the Great Depression, if she saw her teacher throw away a piece of chalk, she would take it home and — with her twin sister, Gussie — draw on the sides of their piano.

Louise Brett, above, paints almost every day. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Louise Brett, above, paints almost every day. Photo by Elana Glowatz

She got some help when she was in her teens while working as a soda jerk, operating the soda fountain at a local shop. On paper bags in the shop, “I would sketch anybody that walked in,” she said. The owner bought her a paint set and she took art lessons in Mount Sinai. At the Board of Education meeting, while presenting the certificate of recognition, elementary school principal Tom Meehan said Brett would walk to the lessons with her brushes in her boots.

While she was learning, she got in trouble with her mother for keeping dead birds under her bed to draw. “I had to know what they looked like,” Brett explained.

Years later, she still paints almost every day, even with her cats, Bonnie and Clyde, wandering around the room that holds her easel and past works. She said art is an outlet for her. When her husband of 54 years, Nicholas, had health problems a few years ago, she painted the Roe House using descriptions in letters former village historian Rob Sisler collected. Brett used details such as the fact that the Roes owned two oxen and carts — which led her to paint a barn with a thatched roof — to determine how to illustrate the scene. “You have to use your imagination,” she said.

Louise Brett's first oil painting was of the house next door to her childhood Port Jefferson home.
Louise Brett’s first oil painting was of the house next door to her childhood Port Jefferson home.

Brett signs all her paintings “Lou Gnia,” for her maiden name Gniazdowski. Her father, who died when she was 3 years old, came to the United States from Poland just before World War I. Brett once took a trip to her family’s village in Stare Miasto, in Poland’s Leżajsk County, a few hours southeast of Warsaw. The village name means “old city,” and she took photographs of various scenes to paint once she got home. In her Reeves Road house she has a “Polish room,” in which there are paintings of houses, cattle drinking from the San River and wagons with rubber wheels, like those on cars.

Paintings also line the walls of the rest of her home, including depictions of ships and beaches and a mural of grazing horses on the far side of the living room.

The artist said painting calms her, to the point where she can forget she is in the middle of cooking dinner. “I just go into a different world,” she said. “I love to paint. It’s just like a sickness.”