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Historic

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Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, Brookhaven Historian Barbara Russell, Kerri Glynn, Old Field Farms President Sally Lynch, Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn pose for a photo in front the clubhouse. Photo by Giselle Barkley

In the early 1930s, Setauket’s Old Field Club was a recreational hotspot that brought community members together for various events or programs. Now 87 years later, the club is still a reminder of Three Village’s past — especially now that it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) designated Wednesday, March 9, as Old Field Club and Farm Day in the town in honor of that club’s newfound status. He joined Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Brookhaven Historian Barbara Russell, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), club member Kerri Glynn and Old Field Farm President Sally Lynch this week to pay tribute to the site and look ahead.

While some clubs have had its setbacks with fires, the Old Field Club’s clubhouse is still the original structure designed by architect Richard Haviland Smythe. Smythe didn’t only design the clubhouse but also the beach cabanas — his original court layout included a plan for the cabanas, which was modified due to storm damage and increased demand for cabanas.

Glynn helped to start the effort to register the club, its farm and the nearby beach and cabanas around three years ago. She said she saw other historically designated buildings and clubs throughout the county with similar stories, making the Old Field Club on West Meadow Road an obvious choice.

“I looked around at various other clubs like [Old Field Club] in the area, like the St. George club and Nissequogue club, and they had both had fires that destroyed their buildings,” Glynn said. “It occurred to me that [Old Field Club] was a very special building.”

Cartright, who represents the town’s historic 1st District, said the designation was not only appropriate, but also necessary for preserving the North Shore’s character.

“The Old Field Club, farm and out buildings reflect the past of the Three Village area all the way back to the 1930s,” Cartright said in an email. “The club continues to serve as a location for community gatherings nearly a century later.  It is a staple in our community.”

Glynn, who has been a member since 1977, added, “the preservation of the beach and cabanas is especially important in light of the loss of the West Meadow cottages.”

The cottages were also added to the register after they were destroyed in the early 2000s. Romaine said that members of the community felt the property should be a natural beach at the time.

The cottages as well as the club were part of the Old Field South, a property subdivision that was being established at the time.

“Having a beach, swimming, tennis club to augment the sale was very much apart of the social life in the 1920s and 1930s,” Russell said.

Members paid $50 per visit at the time to use the club and attend programs and events. Various events were open to all community members, including the North Shore ball. The ball, one of the most important social events at the time, was held at the Old Field Club. The club also organized a number of dances for teenagers, which attracted countless teens.

The Old Field farm grounds were also used for horse shows. The 13.2-acre parcel is divided into the main barn complex and the horse show grounds.

A schoolhouse was also built on the property but was not included in the National Register of Historic Places alongside the clubhouse, farm and beach and cabanas because the building is privately owned.

Although Long Island is bustling with historic sites like the club, Russell said sites must be at least 50-years-old and must have a clear important historic significance, which Old Field certainly satisfied.

Some sites like the Old Field Club have more than one qualification — the club was placed on the register for its social and agricultural significance. The clubhouse includes a large ballroom with four sets of French doors among other characteristics.

Romaine commended those involved, for helping preserve this historic landmark.

“The work done by our historian [and] by these individuals involved, has ensured that these structures [the clubhouse and farm] will forever remain as they are,” Romaine said. “They can be improved upon but they can’t be changed and this piece of history…will forever be with us and remind us of our past.”

Tours of decorated mansion held through Dec. 30

From left, Karen Mills-Lynch, Phyllis Kelly and Mary DiFronzo of the Three Village Garden Club trim the tree in the Vanderbilt Mansion library. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Interior designers and garden clubs deck the halls of the Vanderbilt Mansion in Centerport each year, and hundreds of visitors see the delightful results beginning the day after Thanksgiving.

The 24-room Spanish Revival house — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is enhanced with garland, holly, 10 elegantly ornamented trees, poinsettias, brightly wrapped packages, greens and pine cones from the Vanderbilt estate and an enchanting atmosphere of early- and mid-twentieth century holiday cheer.

Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the museum, said, “We’re grateful to these imaginative decorators, who generously donate their time and talent to create an atmosphere of charming holiday grandeur and sophisticated living. They bring magic to this historic house.”

Participating this year were the Dix Hills, Centerport, Honey Hills, Nathan Hale and Three Village garden clubs; Harbor Homestead & Co. Design; and the master gardeners of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension. All have participated in the project for many years.

Artists and garden specialists from the Three Village Garden Club (representing Old Field, Setauket and Stony Brook) decorated the spacious, paneled Vanderbilt library and its tree. Beneath the tree are faux gifts wrapped with bright papers, foils and ribbons. Ornate, two-foot, stylized silver trees adorn the fireplace.

“We trimmed the tree with gold and copper ornament balls and with strands of clear, multi-faceted stones to reflect the light from the small white bulbs,” said Joann Canino of the Three Village Garden Club. “The white poinsettias used as ornaments suggest doves, a symbol of peace. We also placed white poinsettias with silver bows on the mantel of the library’s large fireplace.

“The Vanderbilt Mansion is an architectural celebration. It’s one of those grand houses that has a warm, family feeling. Our club is pleased to be part of dressing it up for the holidays. It’s great fun.”

Mary Schlotter and daughter Krishtia McCord, both of Centerport, decorated the bedroom of William K. Vanderbilt II, and the Moroccan Court next to the Vanderbilt library. They operate the Harbor Homestead & Co. design firm.

For the past several years, Schlotter also has been among the designers invited to decorate The White House for the holidays, the Fourth of July and Halloween.

“Mr. Vanderbilt loved peacocks and had them on the estate,” Schlotter said. “The bedroom color scheme is inspired by the colors in peacock feathers — deep teal, cobalt blue, apple green, plum and gold. We wanted it to look like a sophisticated man’s room,” Schlotter said.

Schlotter and McCord added wreaths of teal-blue feathers to the top of the French doors that open onto the bedroom porch with a view of Northport Bay. “Acorns are a feature of the Vanderbilt family crest, and we used acorn ornaments with the greenery that decorates the fireplace mantel. Ivy vines sprayed with gold paint and woven through the garland trim the doorways.”

In the Moroccan Court, with its rare Spanish and Portuguese tiles, they decorated the built-in tiled bench with throw pillows. The colors of the pillows match those in the antique tiles, each of which is a miniature folk painting. Decorations include a café setting with a small round table and two chairs; a basket of fruits and nuts; silver candles in ornate, antique bronze candlesticks; up-lighted palm trees; a candle-lit silver lantern next to the small fountain set into the floor; and gauzy, transparent fabric hung in front of the tall, arched windows.

Christine Lagana and her friends from the Dix Hills Garden Club decorated the Portuguese Sitting Room. “The tone was set by the deep blue in the rug and the sculpture of a knight on horseback, which has the same colors as the rug,” Lagana said, “and by the medieval theme of the 1494 fireplace surround, which features carved faces of crusaders.

“We added gold ribbon and pine cones to the garland, and small turquoise and cobalt ornament balls on the tree. One group of large ornaments displays a replica of the Vanderbilt family crest inside clear-glass globes.” Acorn-shaped ornaments echo the acorns in the family crest, which is painted on the fireplace hood in the dining room.”

Guided tours of the decorated mansion will be held through Dec. 30. During the day, tours are given Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday (including Dec. 28 and 30) at 12:30, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. Visitors pay the general admission fee plus $5 per person for a tour.

The popular Twilight Tours of the mansion will be given Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 26 and 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors (62 and older) and $5 for children 12 and under. Hot chocolate and cookies are included. This event is a treat for visitors, and the only time of the year the Vanderbilt family’s private living quarters can be seen at night.

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

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The restored Judge John Lawrence Smith Homestead porch is in Smithtown. Photo from Kris Melvin-Denenberg

In April, the Smithtown Historical Society began groundwork on a buildings and grounds project made possible by an anonymous donor. After receiving some much- needed preservation work, the Judge John Lawrence Smith Homestead was ready for the restoration of its front porch.

Once a beautiful gathering spot for the family, this architectural feature was lost over time, as the structure underwent multiple renovations. Under the guidance of Mancini Architecture and the craftsmanship of School House Remodeling, the physical reconstruction is complete, and the house is back to its original glory.

“To have this porch be completed, to have this building be completed, is such an achievement for the Smithtown Historical Society. With this new structure, we are now able to tell another chapter of the story of the families that lived here,” said Executive Director Marianne Howard. “We are very grateful to our anonymous donor, Mancini Architecture and to School House Remodeling for helping to make this dream a reality.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony was the centerpiece of the Smithtown Historical Society’s annual community summer barbecue. More than 100 residents gathered around the porch to celebrate its completion and to enjoy an all-you-can-eat barbecue, catered by Panico’s Community Market.

Tilden Lane Farm in Greenlawn. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The Huntington Town Board is considering partnering with Suffolk County to buy the development rights of a Greenlawn Christmas tree farm.

The board held a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss a plan to buy a conservation easement and the development rights of the Tilden Lane Farm on Wyckoff Street in Greenlawn. The Tilden family has operated the farm for generations, and the property has been recognized as a National Bicentennial Farm for its more than 200 years of continuous farm use.

The town would use money from its Environmental Open Space and Park Fund and would split the cost with Suffolk County, according to a Town Board resolution.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said the legislator supports the move: “Few and far between are there opportunities in this district to have open space preservation, so he is in support of this.”

Tilden Lane Farm in Greenlawn. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Tilden Lane Farm in Greenlawn. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), who sponsored the measure, said he brought it forward because it was a “win-win” in that it offers the possibility to preserve the land, but also allows the Christmas tree operation to continue. Cuthbertson said he’s frequented the farm on occasions.

“It costs us less to outright purchase and allows something that’s a very compatible use to continue,” he said.

Asked how much the development rights would cost, Cuthbertson said the town is at the “beginning stages” of that process.

At this week’s public hearing, members of the Tilden family urged the board to move forward with the acquisition of the development rights, which would preserve the property as farmland forever. Six years ago, the town and county made an offer to buy the rights, and an appraisal of the property was done, but the farm’s owner at the time turned the offer down, according to town spokesman A.J. Carter.

The opportunity came up again when the current heirs became interested in selling the land.

“We’re trying to keep our Christmas tree operation going,” Bruce Tilden said. “We’re thankful the town is supporting this endeavor and we’re looking forward to keep it going.”

Neighbor Jane Irving also urged the board to move forward with the purchase, noting that the Tilden family “has always been good neighbors.”

“Isn’t it wonderful that the Town of Huntington has a working tree farm within the town borders?”

Spencer’s spokesperson said the development rights purchase would be reviewed by the county’s farmland committee on Sept. 15.

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Photo from Jeff Bressler

The Smithtown Fire Department is in the final stages of having its historic 1935 Mack Ladder Truck fully restored. A Department Restoration Committee has been given the task of having this piece of Long Island history returned to its former glory.

The restoration is not using Fire Department funds or taxpayer dollars for the project. The entire restoration is being funded by the generosity of Smithtown Fire Department members and the general community.

For the second consecutive year the Restoration Committee will host a chicken barbecue at 5 p.m. on Aug. 1, featuring the sounds of South Bound, a popular Long Island country band. Entry is $25 in advance or $30 on the day of the event.

Last year’s event was enthusiastically received with hundreds of music lovers in attendance to enjoy a complete BBQ chicken dinner, hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, beer and wine. The event is held on the scenic Nissequogue River at the department’s River Property, located behind 419 West Main St., Smithtown.

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Work will add parking spots, greenery near historic area

The parking lot east of Mariners Way will get a makeover. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Village officials have lined up a construction company to redo the parking lot behind the Fifth Season restaurant, recently dubbed the Baker’s Alley lot, as part of a larger project that aims to restore a downtown historical area.

The Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees hired East Moriches-based Rosemar Construction, the lower of two bidders on the work, at its meeting on Monday night. At the municipal lot by Mariners Way, the work includes repaving and striping, putting in a pedestrian walkway and adding landscaping.

In addition to the parking field east of Mariners Way, the lot includes 14 spaces in a strip on the road’s western side.

Restriping will make room for seven to eight more parking spots, Mayor Margot Garant said at the meeting.

It will also eliminate a dead end in the middle of the parking lot, improving access for public works employees when they remove snow from the village’s lots in the winter.

East Coast-based engineering firm VHB — the group that put together the construction drawings and plans for redoing the metered parking lot based on designs by Port Jefferson’s Campani and Schwarting Architects — still has to review Rosemar’s bid, which came in close to $350,000 and will be funded by village parking meter revenue.

“I’m told that this is quite a good price,” Trustee Larry LaPointe said. “VHB expected it to come in significantly higher.”

Officials are now calling the area the Baker’s Alley parking lot, making it the namesake of a nearby path the village is working to restore. Baker’s Alley was, in turn, named as a nod to Port Jefferson’s so-called bakery wars that took place there in the early 1900s, in which William West’s New England Bakery famously competed with another local shop. The feud fully erupted in 1916, when both owners changed the establishments’ names to Port Jefferson Bakery.

The now-overgrown and often overlooked dirt path starts at East Main Street, heads down to the parking lot and turns north toward East Broadway. Village officials are looking to turn the alley into a brick walkway, with classic lighting and native plants along the way. After turning north, it would run along a short stone wall as it passes between the parking lot and adjacent businesses, then connect with the small Founders Park at East Broadway.

The village has not yet received bids on the alley portion of the project, LaPointe said, but officials want to get moving on the parking lot work.

“We need to get started as quickly as possible so we don’t interfere any more than necessary with the use of that lot in the high season.”