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Kenneth Brady

Ken Brady. Photo by John Griffin

By Philip Griffith

I was sorry to read in The Port Times Record [Oct. 25] that Kenneth C. Brady Jr., born April 17, 1943, passed away on Oct. 24.

Ken inherited Rob Sisler’s title, Port Jefferson village historian. Brady was the quintessential explorer of our Port history. He leaves us a legacy of 17,500 priceless photographs, numerous articles, eloquent historical lectures, fascinating artifacts and public exhibitions. A wise Irish patron of a local pub advised me, “Always expect the worst. You’ll never be disappointed.”

It was my pleasure to meet Ken as a co-writer and editor of The Echoes of Port newsletter distributed by the Historical Society of Greater Port Jefferson. He taught me much about accurate research and reporting. Along with me, Brady was a founding member of Port Jefferson Conservancy and later became its president. He worked tirelessly to preserve our village history, architecture, parks and surrounding waters of the Long Island Sound.

Beyond Port Jefferson, he served as president of the Suffolk County Historical Society. His books on Belle Terre and photographs of Arthur S. Greene are gems. I especially enjoyed his many photographic exhibits at the Port Jefferson Village Center and at our annual dinner of the Port Jefferson Historical Society at Port Jefferson Country Club.

In addition, Ken was a frequent contributor to The Port Times Record, best known for his Hometown History series. TBR News Media named him as a 2013 People of the Year winner.

I visited Ken many times in his archive office, which he designed and created on the second floor of the Village Center. He was always gracious about my interrupting his work and generous with sharing information for my research. Ken was a walker and often greeted residents on his journey. My grandson Jack lived on South Street, and Ken always gave him a high five and a smile. When Jack went ice skating at The Rinx adjoining the Village Center, he always went upstairs to visit Ken, who offered him a few peppermint candies to enjoy.

A retired Sachem teacher, Ken loved children and Jack loved him — as all who knew him did.

Ken had a great sense of humor. He was a kind, intelligent, unassuming gentleman. You’d see him in his Montauk sweatshirt, a place where he spent many days at his second home. In this small resort village called “The End,” and the location of seven Stanford White homes, Ken spent many hours with his good friends, Mike and Claire Lee. The surrounding ocean waters beguiled them. Ireland, the land of his ancestors, is noted for its saints and scholars. In my judgment, Ken qualified for both categories.

It is ironic that days before Ken’s death, I met Mike Lee at the Colosseo Pizzeria in Port Jeff Station. As I frequently do, I asked Mike, “How is Ken?” He replied, “Fine.”

There’s an old Hasidic adage that goes, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for the next week.” At 11 a.m. on Oct. 27 in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Kenneth C. Brady Jr. was laid to rest before more than 100 friends and neighbors. The Methodist Rev. Charles Van Houten conducted the solemn graveside service. Van Houten and attending mourners offered prayers.

Mike Lee made a fittingly concluding remark. I made a fittingly concluding remark, too. I said, “Ken, you are now a part of Port Jefferson’s history.”

Rest in peace.

Port Jefferson’s temporary village hall was located in leased facilities on the west side of Main Street. Photo from author's collection

After Port Jefferson incorporated in 1963, the village Board of Trustees established a temporary village hall in leased facilities on the west side of Main Street.

Since the easily forgotten storefront location was hardly impressive and the small space soon proved inadequate, a plan for a permanent village hall was advanced in 1964 by Port Jefferson’s first mayor, Robert L. Robertson.

He proposed the construction of an elegant and capacious million-dollar village center that would house both government offices and recreational facilities, including a community swimming pool.

The multipurpose complex would be built on West Broadway, facing Port Jefferson Harbor, on land acquired by the village and once occupied by Loper Brothers Lumber Yard.

While The Port Jefferson Record applauded Robertson’s “visionary” proposal, the Board of Trustees decided not to proceed with the project, pending the completion of a village master plan by consultants Raymond & May.

The master plan, released in July 1965 during the administration of Port Jefferson’s second mayor, Clifton H. Lee, provided a guide for the future development of the village and recommended that the West Broadway tract be used exclusively for Port Jefferson’s seat of government.

Village of Port Jefferson founding mayors Clifton H. Lee, left, and Robert L. Robertson, right, both worked to establish a village hall. Photo from the Lee Family collection

Milton S. Osborne, who had directed the Penn State School of Architecture, also conferred on the project, and supported using the West Broadway site strictly for village hall while building public parks and recreation areas at other locations throughout Port Jefferson.

With a clear goal in mind, the Board of Trustees formed the Architectural Selection Committee which reviewed sketches and interviewed architects before recommending Anthony J. Lorio (1928-2013) as their choice to design village hall.

Lorio proposed the construction of a 7,000-square-foot, two-story, Georgian-style brick building, on a raised podium. Preliminary renderings were displayed throughout Port Jefferson, and residents were invited to offer their opinions.

While most reviews were positive, there were some who called for softening the village hall’s facade. After making minor modifications in his design, and with the trustees’ support, Lorio began preparing working plans for the building.

In April 1966, construction of village hall went out to bid, but all 19 proposals were rejected as too expensive. The Board of Trustees, which had wanted to keep total costs under $200,000, went out to bid a second time in winter 1967 but was frustrated again with the high numbers.

Today’s Port Jefferson village hall, located at 121 W. Broadway. File photo

After considerable discussion, the trustees agreed that construction costs were likely to increase because of the Vietnam War’s inflationary impact and it was best to accept a $264,000 bid before prices rose even more.

Port Jefferson broke ground for village hall in April 1967, but nationwide strikes in various industries so delayed progress locally that the building was not ready for business until May 1968.

Over the years, village hall has become more than just a municipal building and is now a seaside landmark, evoking that sense of place that makes Port Jefferson so special.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of the village.

Photo by David Ackerman

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Maybe it sounds like I’m tooting our horn too much, but I have to say how proud I am of the columnists who write for our papers and website. They are clearly bright and offer the reader information and knowledge that aren’t usually found even in a big metro daily or a glossy magazine. They are, collectively and individually, one of the main reasons our hometown newspapers have managed to survive while so many of our colleagues, 25% of them in the nation, have had to shut their doors.

Readers want to learn from our regular columnists, who, by the way, are local residents. That’s not surprising, though, because the population we serve is exceptional, accomplished in their own right, and can be expected to harbor such talent. Let me explain.

The columnists are found in the second section of the newspaper, called Arts & Lifestyles. In the interest of full disclosure and without false modesty, I point out and salute my youngest son, Dr. David Dunaief. He is a physician totally committed to helping his patients, and the high regard is returned by them in equal measure, as testimonials about him confirm. In addition, he writes every week about current medical problems and brings readers up to date with the latest research and thinking regarding common ailments. I know him to be a voracious reader of medical journals and he footnotes his sources of expertise at the end of every “Medical Compass” column. 

Dr. Matthew Kearns is a longtime popular veterinarian who writes “Ask the Vet,” keeping our beloved pets healthy. Michael E. Russell is a successful, retired financial professional who cannot cut the cord with Wall Street, and  shares his thoughts on the economy and suggesting current buys on the stock market. He will also throw in something irreverent, or even askance, to keep you tuned in. 

Also writing knowledgeably on the contemporary scene about finance and the economy is Michael Christodoulou, who is also an active financial advisor. Ever try to read your auto insurance policies? If I had trouble falling asleep, they would knock me out by the second paragraph. Enter A. Craig Purcell, a partner in a long-established local law firm, who is attempting to explain auto insurance coverage, a merciful endeavor, with his column. His words do not put me to sleep. Shannon Malone will alternate the writing for us. Michael Ardolino, a well-known realtor, somehow manages to make both ends of a real estate transaction, for buyers and sellers, sound promising at this time. 

Our lead movie and book reviewer is the highly talented Jeffrey Sanzel. In addition to being a terrific actor, he is a gifted writer and almost always feels the same way about what he is reviewing as I do. No wonder I think he is brilliant.  Father Frank has been writing for the papers for many years and always with great integrity and compassion. 

John Turner, famous naturalist and noted author and lecturer, keeps us apprised of challenges to nature. This is a niche for all residents near the shorelines of Long Island. He also writes “Living Lightly,” about being a responsible earth dweller. Bob Lipinski is the wine connoisseur who travels the world and keeps us aware of best wines and cheeses.

Lisa Scott and Nancy Marr of the Suffolk County League of Women Voters, keep us informed about upcoming elections, new laws and important propositions. Elder law attorney Nancy Burner tells us about Medicare, estate planning, wills gifting, trustees, trusts and other critical issues as we age.

The last columnist I will mention is Daniel Dunaief, who, like bookends for my salute, is also my son. Among several other articles, he writes “The Power of Three,” explaining some of the research that is performed at Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Labs and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He makes a deep dive into the science in such a way that layman readers can understand what is happening in the labs. He has been paid the ultimate compliment by the scientists for a journalist: they pick up the phone and willingly talk to him, unafraid that he will get the story wrong or misquote them. In fact, he has been told a rewarding number of times by the researchers that his questions for the articles have helped them further direct their work.

When my sons began writing for TBR News Media, a few readers accused me of nepotism. I haven’t heard that charge now in years.

P.S. Of course, we can’t forget Beverly C. Tyler and Kenneth Brady, stellar historians both.

Kris Kringle and the St. John's Ophan Asylum Band from Brooklyn lead Cheese Club down Port Jefferson's Main Street toward Infant Jesus Roman Catholic Church; charitable organization; gifts for children at St. Charles

The Cheese Club was a charitable organization formed in 1915 and comprised of members of Brooklyn’s Knights of Columbus.

Considered among the leading citizens of Brooklyn, each a “big cheese,” the group’s influential founders self-mockingly referred to themselves as the Cheese Club, though other stories about the name’s origin abound.

The Cheese Club is best known in Port Jefferson for its Christmas pilgrimage to the village, which it made without interruption from 1916-58 despite stormy weather, world wars and the Great Depression.

During each annual holiday visit, the club members gave yuletide gifts to the youngsters at the Brooklyn Home for Blind, Crippled and Defective Children, known today as St. Charles Hospital, and donated money for the year-round comfort of the handicapped boys and girls and their caregivers.

The club members and their entourage typically traveled from Flatbush to Port Jefferson on a specially chartered LIRR train, the Santa Claus Express, made up of coaches and a freight car filled with Christmas presents.

After disembarking at the Port Jefferson railroad station, Kris Kringle and the St. John’s Orphan Asylum Band from Brooklyn led the group as it marched to Infant Jesus R.C. Church at Myrtle and Main to attend Mass.

Christmas postcard. Photo courtesy the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive
Collection

Numbering 400 strong during peak years, the procession then continued to St. Charles Hospital, where the sisters of the Daughters of Wisdom, who operated the hospital and looked after its disabled charges, served a welcoming luncheon.

Following the reception, children at the hospital provided two hours of entertainment, performing as singers, dancers, musicians and actors.

When the talent show ended, Santa Claus and his helpers took the stage and gave each boy and girl a Christmas stocking stuffed with toys, candy, games, clothing and fruit.

The Daughters of Wisdom also received a check to fund various projects at the hospital and on its grounds. Over the years, the money was used to purchase radios, movie projectors and physical therapy equipment for the children, build a sun shelter, defray the costs of a memorial organ, improve the sisters’ living quarters and maintain outdoor Stations of the Cross. 

Following the establishment of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1957 out of territory once within the Diocese of Brooklyn, the Cheese Club phased out its holiday visits to Port Jefferson and concentrated on charitable work closer to home.

The Cheese Club was a pioneer in bringing Christmas cheer to the handicapped children hospitalized in Port Jefferson and spurring other religious and nonsectarian organizations to support the disabled youngsters at St. Charles — not just at the holidays but throughout the year.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of the village.

In 1916, Joseph Vandall opened his own meat market on East Broadway at what was previously Lester Davis’ store. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Joseph Vandall was a well-known resident of Port Jefferson and one of the village’s prominent businessmen.

In 1892, he was hired as a butcher at Lester Davis’ Meat Market, which was located on today’s East Broadway. After purchasing Davis’ shop in 1916, Vandall found that he needed more space for his growing business.

Vandall bought land to construct a modern store in 1923 and broke ground the next year. The building was situated on the south side of East Broadway between the Harbor View Hotel and Smith’s Plumbing.

The brick and concrete structure, known locally as the Vandall Building, provided room for three shops on the first floor. A large meeting area, Vandall’s Hall, filled the entire second floor.

The Vandall Building opened in 1925 and was occupied on the ground level by Vandall’s Meats and Groceries, Lerch’s Music Shop and Azenaro’s Fruits and Vegetables.

While these establishments were important to the local economy, Vandall’s Hall quickly gave the building its identity. Soon a landmark in Port Jefferson, the hall became “the” place for a variety of events including dances, fundraisers, recitals, musicals and wedding receptions.

Among the booths and exhibits at Vandall’s Hall during the Second Industrial Show, March 1930. The event promoted local businesses, their products and services. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

In February 1929, local businessmen exhibited their products and services at Vandall’s Hall during the village’s first Industrial Show. Sponsored by the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, the event proved so popular that another show was held in March 1930. 

In one of the more unusual uses of the Vandall Building, a miniature golf course, requiring all of the space on the second floor, opened at the hall in November 1930 but closed the following year.

In 1932, the Port Jefferson Moose Lodge leased the hall and, in turn, rented the venue to other groups, reducing Vandall’s active involvement in the business.

Following Vandall’s retirement in 1940, the South Bay Consolidated Water Company moved its Port Jefferson office into what had been Vandall’s Meats and Groceries. The Suffolk County Highway Department rented the entire second floor for its quarters, ending the hall’s days as a place for social gatherings.

After Vandall’s death in July 1945, the Vandall Building was sold and rented to various tenants with one redefining the East Broadway property. 

Max “Mac” Snyder opened an Army & Navy Store in the Vandall Building on Sept. 3, 1954, days after Hurricane Carol wreaked havoc in Port Jefferson.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1912, Snyder had moved to Brooklyn in 1932 with his wife Florence. The couple and their children later relocated to Valley Stream before being drawn to Port Jefferson.

Snyder saw the village’s downtown near the waterfront as an ideal location for his store, believing that harbor improvements, suburbanization, population growth, road construction and cultural tourism would bring potential buyers to Port Jefferson.

The Vandall Building was located on the south side of East Broadway. (Left to right) Lerch’s Music Shop, Azenaro’s Fruits and Vegetables, and Vandall’s Meats and Groceries. Photo by Arthur S. Greene. Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive.

These customers found a variety of merchandise in Snyder’s store, which was stocked with clothing, footwear, fishing rods, camping gear, marine supplies and military items.

Snyder also developed a niche market, advertising his store as a skin-diving center where sportsmen could purchase scuba equipment, wet suits, masks, fins and snorkels.

Snyder became so well known in Port Jefferson that the Vandall Building was soon called “Mac Snyder’s,” supplanting the original owner’s name in the local vocabulary. 

By 1968, Snyder’s Army & Navy Store was still on the ground level of his building, but the first floor was also occupied by a laundromat. The Mary Beth dress manufacturing company, which specialized in piecework, filled all of the second floor.

While the Vandall/Snyder Building had survived hurricanes, a fire on Jan. 21, 1968, left the property in ruins. What remained was later demolished.

The blaze brought an end to a building but not to one business. Just months after the fire, Snyder opened a new Army & Navy Center in Port Jefferson at 214 Main St., opposite what was then the Brookhaven Town Tax Office.

The approximate site of the former Vandall/Snyder Building is now occupied by what was formerly Ecolin Jewelers, across from Brookhaven Town’s Mary Bayles Park.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

The Bayles Shipyard Band is pictured on the steps of Port Jefferson’s Plant Hotel, June 10, 1919. The band performed at ship launchings, Friday night dances, receptions, and costume parties. Source: National Archives

Following America’s entry into World War I, the number of employees at the Bayles Shipyard in Port Jefferson jumped from 250 in November 1917 to 1,022 in January 1919. 

Since many of these workers could not find housing in the village, the United States Shipping Board campaigned to persuade the area’s homeowners to rent rooms to Port Jefferson’s shipbuilders.

A painting by commercial artist Rolf Armstrong was offered as a prize to the villager who did the most to alleviate the housing shortage. Since this and other efforts did not meet much success, the USSB retained architect Alfred C. Bossom to design cottages and dormitories in Port Jefferson for the burgeoning population.

Bossom recognized the urgent need to provide accommodations for the wartime labor force, his numerous commissions including the Remington Apartments high-rise complex built for workers at the Remington Arms munitions factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

To secure a site for Port Jefferson’s housing development, the Bayles Shipyard purchased almost 16 acres of land just west of Barnum Avenue from Catherine Campbell in July 1918. 

Nine detached, one-family homes were designed by Bossom to reflect the character of “old Long Island fishing villages” and erected along Cemetery Avenue, later renamed Liberty Avenue.

Between 1921-23, Port Jefferson’s Plant Hotel served as a United States Veterans Training Center. Source: Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Bossom also designed a dormitory unit called the Plant Hotel since it accommodated employees at the Bayles plant. The Mark C. Tredennick Company, which had constructed buildings at the Army’s Camp Upton in Yaphank, was named the general contractor.

Now the site of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, the Plant Hotel included 206 rooms, a cafeteria, powerhouse, athletic field and water purification facilities. A porch connected the three major wings of the complex.

Completed in December 1918 just after the Armistice on Nov. 11, the hotel soon became the center of social life for shipyard workers. A band was formed, a baseball team was organized and dances were held on Friday evenings. 

In April 1919, the Emergency Fleet Corporation commandeered the Bayles Shipyard because of the unsatisfactory progress at the facility. The seized property, which included the Plant Hotel, was then sold to the New York Harbor Dry Dock Corporation.

When the new owners fired hundreds of shipyard workers, the number of boarders at the Plant Hotel dropped dramatically. To compensate for this loss, the hotel began offering rooms to transients by the day or week.

The Port Jefferson Times scolded the hotel’s new clientele for destroying electric bulbs, smashing wash basins, spitting on the floors and generally behaving as if they were hoodlums. 

In December 1920, the NYHDDC shut down the Bayles Shipyard, dismissing all of its workers except for a skeleton crew. Confronted with a virtually empty Plant Hotel, the NYHDDC leased the complex to the Federal Board for Vocational Education, later renamed the United States Veterans Bureau. 

The Plant Hotel, which had been extensively damaged by some departing boarders, was refurbished as a training center charged with teaching disabled soldiers and sailors.

The initial group of 125 veterans arrived at the Plant Hotel in October 1921. During a typical three-month stay, the men prepared for new careers and received medical care. For recreation, they were entertained by theatrical troupes, went on field trips and enjoyed Friday night concerts. 

Port Jefferson’s Plant Hotel was still under construction on October 15, 1918. Photograph by Arthur S. Greene, National Archives

Despite pressure from local business groups and politicians, in June 1923 the Veterans Bureau left Port Jefferson as part of a nationwide plan to consolidate its rehabilitation facilities. 

As demobilization continued, local businessman Jacob S. Dreyer purchased the Liberty Avenue cottages, which have changed hands several times over the years and are still standing. In July 1929, taxpayers in the Port Jefferson school district voted to purchase the Plant Hotel itself and the remaining 13 acres.

In subsequent elections, the citizens authorized the board of education to sell some of the hotel’s furnishings, grade the grounds and construct an athletic field on the site. In June 1934, the taxpayers voted to build a high school on the property.

The board of education quickly sold the Plant Hotel to a high bidder for $250. Workers then demolished the building and hauled away the wreckage. 

 

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson village historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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Clifton “Kip” Lee, who served as Port Jefferson’s mayor from 1965 to 1971, is shown on the village’s Main Street. During his administration, Project Rejuvenation brought a “new look” to Port Jefferson and helped revive the village’s ailing downtown commercial center. Photo from the Michael F. Lee Collection

By Kenneth Brady

Gene Marvey could not stop thinking about the magazine article that he had just read. The story described how communities across America were reviving their failing business districts by following a simple plan. The same approach, thought Marvey, might succeed in rejuvenating the commercial area of Port Jefferson where he had a store.

“Old Towns Come Alive,” the article that had caught Marvey’s imagination, appeared in the March 1965 issue of the Rotarian and featured the work of Dr. Milton S. Osborne who had revitalized 42 communities in the United States.

Known as the “village restorer,” Osborne showed shop owners easy ways to dress up the facades of their establishments. The face lifting did not involve any structural changes or major expenditures, guaranteed local control over the project and maintained the architectural integrity of the subject area.

Marvey shared Osborne’s ideas with Port Jefferson’s mayor, Clifton “Kip” Lee and the village trustees, who voted unanimously to invite Osborne to Port Jefferson for a consultation and to underwrite the attendant fees.

Osborne’s method was simple: each merchant submitted a photo of his storefront. Osborne then prepared a sketch of the shop’s remodeled façade which served as a guide for the suggested renovations.

For $500 to $1,000 per building, estimated Osborne, a typical Port Jefferson merchant could reface his store by merely replacing shutters, hanging flower boxes, adding wrought iron railings, installing mullions and painting the shop’s exterior in harmonious colors.

The button was used to publicize Project Rejuvenation. The numbers refer to the July 4, 1967 weekend when Port Jefferson staged a summer festival to showcase its “new look.”
Photo from the Michael F. Lee Collection

These actions, explained Osborne, would preserve and enhance what he deemed was the semi-colonial character of the village. Osborne cautioned, however, that the effort would only succeed if there was cooperation between government and the business community.

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce enthusiastically endorsed Osborne’s plan and formed a committee charged with implementing what became known as Project Rejuvenation.

With a target date of July 4, 1967 set for the plan’s completion, work on remodeling Port Jefferson’s storefronts began in earnest. Davis Comfort Corporation, fuel oil dealers on East Broadway, was the first firm to reface its building. Frank Hocker and Son, real estate and insurance agents on Main Street, was the second and Kella’s Steak House, located on Main Street a stone’s throw from the railroad station, was the third.

Opening in 1903, the Port Jefferson railroad station was in need of a face lift. The LIRR embraced the Osborne Plan and renovated the terminal’s stark interior and landscaped its dreary grounds. A sign at the depot celebrated the effort and proclaimed that the modernization of the station would create a “new look” at the “doorway” to the village.

As summer 1967 approached, merchants rushed to dress up their shops by Project Rejuvenation’s rollout on July 4. Along the village’s streets, residents joked they were unable to enter the very stores that were clamoring for customers because their paths were often blocked by the dozens of contractors laboring in Port Jefferson’s commercial center.

With the remodeling finally over, the Chamber reported that about 85% of the village’s shops had renewed their facades. The “unveiling” occurred during the July Fourth Rejuvenation Festival, which featured a parade, soap box derby, fireworks display, and other activities.

Measured by the Chamber’s goal of drawing crowds to Port Jefferson to show off the village’s spruced up shops, the event scored a hit. An estimated 25,000 people visited Port Jefferson during the festival weekend, but aside from its immediate effect, Project Rejuvenation had a lasting impact on the village.

Port Jefferson’s “new look” caught the public eye, put the historic seaport village on the map and sparked Port Jefferson’s commercial renewal by recapturing the tourist market that the village had once enjoyed but had lost to the ravages of time.

Despite this rosy picture, Project Rejuvenation had its detractors. According to critics, the Osborne Plan was to supplement Port Jefferson’s 1965 Master Plan, not became its substitute. Rather than tackling thorny problems that demanded long-range planning, some argued that Port Jefferson went with a short-term solution and kicked the can down the road.

Project Rejuvenation dealt with the village’s shops, not with its waterfront industries. While the Osborne Plan improved Port Jefferson’s storefronts, overburdened trucks still rumbled through the village’s downtown, driving potential customers away.

Although the architecture in Port Jefferson’s business district was eclectic, Project Rejuvenation prescribed an early American style. The results may have been pleasant, but they hardly reflected the village’s history. 

Upper Port Jefferson took a back seat during Project Rejuvenation. While the railroad station and some nearby buildings were refaced, most of the work occurred in the village’s downtown. Even the July Fourth Rejuvenation Festival was geared to lower Port Jefferson.

As with any innovation, the Osborne Plan had its drawbacks, but in recognition of its overall success, in 1968 Project Rejuvenation received the Long Island Association’s coveted Community Betterment Award. In addition, Marvey and Lee were honored in 1967 and 1968, respectively, with the Chamber’s prestigious “Man of the Year Award,” given for their outstanding contributions to the community, particularly their roles in Project Rejuvenation.

Over 50 years since the launch of the Osborne Plan, Port Jefferson remains committed to village improvement, continuing the mission of Project Rejuvenation in the revitalization initiatives of today.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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This photo by John M. Brown shows what is now the village’s East Main Street and captures the Port Jefferson Hotel on the left. The view is toward the Baptist Church and the intersection with Prospect Street. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

By Kenneth Brady

Two boys are shown sitting on a dock. The west shore of Port Jefferson Harbor is pictured in the background. Photo by John M. Brown. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Amateur photographer John M. Brown recorded life in Port Jefferson, his images conveying what it looked like and felt like to live in the village at the beginning of the 20th century.

Simple cameras, then for sale in Port Jefferson, had democratized photography, once largely the realm of professionals, enabling Brown and other laymen to take pictures of their surroundings.

Brown’s work contributes to our understanding of Port Jefferson’s past, but is unique in offering the unvarnished perspective of a common man, not the stylized view of a commercial photographer.

His straightforward snapshots of the village capture a variety of people, places, objects and events including bathers at the East Beach, Petty’s Confectionery, an American flag and sailboat races, respectively.

Brown’s direct photographs also include views of Port Jefferson’s yacht basin, Methodist Church, post office, ferry Victor, Athena Hall, residents, Parker’s Pond, school, Overton’s Agricultural Implements, and bank, all combining to create a shutterbug’s portrait of the village during the early 1900s.

Opening in 1900, the First National Bank was located on the corner of Main and East Main streets. This image by John M. Brown shows the building without its 1922 addition. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive.

Described in the Port Jefferson Times as “an enthusiastic photographer,” three of Brown’s one-of-a-kind shots of the Aug. 2, 1902 launching of the schooner Martha E. Wallace at the village’s Mather and Wood Shipyard were even made into printed post cards and then sold by local stationers.

Brown was appointed Port Jefferson’s postmaster in 1900 and served in that capacity until 1916. During his tenure, the village’s post office was upgraded to second class and its employees were required to take civil service examinations, a Postal Savings Bank was established, and Parcel Post was introduced. In 1911, the Port Jefferson Post Office opened at its new address, 202 Main Street.

Brown’s house in Port Jefferson, often the subject of his photographs, was moved to 105 Tuthill Street in 1929 from its former location on the northeast corner of Main and Tuthill streets where the New York Telephone Company subsequently built an office on the choice site.

Brown resided at his new address until March 1940, dying there at the age of 86. He was buried in Port Jefferson’s Cedar Hill Cemetery where his wife, Evelyn, had been interred in May 1930.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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Athena Hall, now Theatre Three, is shown in 1909 on the west side of Port Jefferson’s Main Street. The building has been remodeled extensively during its 133-year history and used for a variety of purposes. Photograph by Waters, photo from Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

By Kenneth Brady

In an 1873 column appearing in the weekly Long Island Leader, the newspaper’s publishers bemoaned that Port Jefferson lacked a suitable public hall for lectures, exhibitions, shows and parties.

Lamenting that the village did not have a meeting place to accommodate a sizeable audience, the Leader called upon an investor to build a “creditable” hall in Port Jefferson for assemblies and performances.While waiting for a public-spirited person to construct a large hall in the village, its residents got together at some of Port Jefferson’s smaller venues.

Typical of these settings, Lee’s Hall occupied the top floor of John S. Lee’s tin shop on what is now Port Jefferson’s East Broadway. Dances, suppers, cake walks and sociable’s were held in the building.

Bayles Hall, located in rooms above the second Bayles Chandlery on today’s East Broadway, was another popular gathering place. During one evening, the audience enjoyed a play based on Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Though horribly cramped, Henry Hallock’s Hall on Main Street featured vocal groups, magicians and outside speakers.

Athena Hall, now Theatre Three, is shown in 1909 on the west side of Port Jefferson’s Main Street. The building has been remodeled extensively during its 133-year history and used for a variety of purposes. Photograph by Waters, photo from Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Besides these three halls, other meeting places in Port Jefferson were important to the village’s cultural and social life. Tom Thumb performed at Smith’s Hotel, exhibits were displayed at the local schoolhouse and, in a unique use of the space, concerts were held in John R. Mather’s lumber shed.

Port Jefferson’s houses of worship also hosted a variety of events. Swiss bell ringers played at the Baptist Church, minstrels entertained at the Presbyterian Church and temperance lecturers held forth at the Methodist Church.

Villagers continued to get along without a large hall until 1888 when construction on a spacious meeting house finally began. Fifteen years had passed since the Leader claimed that the demand for a public hall was “growing rapidly” in Port Jefferson. What could explain the delay?

The financial Panic of 1873 and its aftermath brought tight money, sluggish sales and hard times to Port Jefferson, perhaps dampening any enthusiasm for the venture.

The cast of the H.M.S. Pinafore is pictured in 1897 on the stage at Port Jefferson’s Athena Hall. Photograph by Arthur S. Greene, photo from Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

As the economy improved, there was renewed interest in the project. L. Beecher Homan, publisher of the Port Jefferson Times, grocer D. Oliver Petty, who’s building also housed the Times, and insurance agent Albert T. Norton were among the investors who financed the hall’s construction. 

Their timing could not have been better. During the 1880s, Port Jefferson began transitioning from a shipbuilding center to a vacationland. With the influx of tourists, businessmen could turn a profit in entertaining visitors on top of the money to be made in satisfying the needs of villagers.

The New Hall, later named Athena Hall, was located on the west side of Main Street and opened on Thursday evening, Sept. 20, 1888, following a parade. The night’s playbill featured local talent.

The public entered the New Hall using a broad staircase leading up to a wide veranda. The frame building, which purportedly could seat 1,000 people, had two levels.

The upper floor included the main hall, a U-shaped balcony, the stage, a space for the orchestra, dressing and property rooms and a committee room. The lower floor contained a coal room and a hot air furnace, pantry, dining room and lower hall.

Remodeled extensively throughout its storied history, what was once Athena Hall has been used as a playhouse, graduation site, movie theater, community center, polling place, machine shop, steam laundry, roller skating rink, radio and television sales store, dance hall and cabaret.

Known today as Theatre Three, the 133-year-old building is a Port Jefferson treasure.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

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The Schooner Restaurant was once a familiar sight on West Broadway in Port Jefferson. Formerly the yacht Ilikamo, the vessel was brought to the village in 1946, placed on land and converted into a distinctive eatery. The restaurant was razed in April 1968. Photo from Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

By Kenneth Brady

The Schooner, once advertised as Long Island’s most novel restaurant, was a waterfront landmark in Port Jefferson from 1946 through 1968.

Located on the south side of West Broadway (Route 25A), the eatery was the brainchild of brothers Charles and Elmer Mapp who had found the schooner yacht Ilikamo languishing in a Riverhead, New York, boatyard.

Taken with the Ilikamo’s graceful lines, the Mapps purchased the 44-ton ship, which they had towed to the west side of Port Jefferson Harbor and brought ashore for remodeling.

Transformed into a distinctive restaurant, the Ilikamo was then moved to a site on West Broadway and placed on a concrete foundation.

Sitting on land, her days on the seas over, the Ilikamo had reached her final destination, but surprisingly the ship’s last voyage was not her first to Port Jefferson.

Built in 1899 at Rice Brothers in East Boothbay, Maine, the Ilikamo was formerly the yawl Regina. In 1901, the 61-foot Regina was converted into a schooner yacht at Port Jefferson’s Bayles Shipyard, just one of the pleasure craft’s many ties with the village.

Later renamed Sita and ultimately Ilikamo, the luxurious schooner yacht regularly visited Port Jefferson during the early twentieth century, often returning to Bayles Shipyard where she was hauled out for repairs and laid up for the winter.

Over the years, sailing under her different names, the ship cruised along the east coast of North America, never straying too far from Long Island’s waters.

By summer 1940, the Ilikamo was under the command of William J. Marshall of Greenport, anchored in Southold Bay and being used as a training ship for Sea Scouts, the maritime branch of the Boy Scouts.

Marshall enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) before America’s entry into World War II and died of natural causes in 1944 while serving as a lieutenant. He was the Ilikamo’s last documented owner before the Mapps brought the ship to Port Jefferson.

Sensitive to the yacht’s rich and varied history, the Mapps were careful to preserve many of the craft’s original features while preparing the ship for its new life as a landlocked restaurant. With the yacht’s character intact, the Schooner opened on Oct. 26, 1946.

The entrance to the dining room, as well as a service counter for takeout, were located on the port side of the restaurant. The menu featured standard fare with the emphasis on short-order selections with nautical names, such as “Sea-Pups (small meatballs).”

Adding to its curb appeal, the sides of the Schooner were painted in gleaming white. Two masts towered over the restaurant; their “sails” outlined at night by strings of electric lights that could be seen by ships passing in Long Island Sound.

In 1949, the Mapps sold the Schooner to Rose Ceperano of Poquott, who over time made several changes at the eatery. Among the improvements, she expanded the menu, enlarged the kitchen, added a covered patio for outdoor dining and constructed small outbuildings on the grounds. Ceperano also closed the restaurant during the winter months, reopening in the spring.

Although she initially ran the Schooner as a family business, Ceperano subsequently leased the establishment. Called “Tom’s Schooner,” the eatery broadened its menu to include Italian cuisine.

Wer-Kay Realty Corporation purchased the Schooner from Ceperano in January 1968. After the eatery was razed that April, the New Schooner Restaurant was built on the cleared land. The site is now home to SāGhar Indian Fusion Restaurant.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.