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Northport Historical Society

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Join the Northport Historical Society, 215 Main St., Northport for a Victorian Valentine’s Day on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. Make your date night, Gal-entine’s, or early Valentine’s Day celebration unforgettable! Education Coordinator Carol Taylor takes you on a journey from the beginning of Valentine’s Day to modern times while learning (and sampling) wine paired with handcrafted chocolates. Your evening concludes with a gift provided by Nite Owl Promotions. Tickets are $60, $50 members and must be purchased in advance at www.northporthistorical.org. Ages 21+ only. Questions? Call 631-757-9859.

The PRIDE exhibit at the Northport Historical Society runs through June 30. Photo from Northport Historical Society
The PRIDE exhibit at the Northport Historical Society runs through June 30. Photo from Northport Historical Society

In perfect timing with Pride Month, the Northport Historical Society, 215 Main St., Northport presents PRIDE!, a pop-up exhibit curated and designed by Marketing and Membership Coordinator John N. Daniello.

The Society’s first LGBT+ exhibit, PRIDE! explores the history of the LGBT+ movement in the United States and Northport. The month-long exhibit is generously sponsored by Northport Copy and features local artist Greg Fox and his comic Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast. The Society welcomes members of Northport’s (and the surrounding areas) LGBT+ community — and their allies — to share their personal stories of Pride.

Viewing hours are Thursday to Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. including during Northport’s Pridefest on June 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Northport Village Park. Admission to the exhibit is free. For more information, visit northporthistorical.org

From left, Northport Historical Society curator Terry Reid, co-owners of the Engeman Theater Kevin O'Neill and Richard Dolce, and Northport Historical Society Executive Director Caitlyn Shea last Thursday night. Photo from NHS

On March 23, Northport Historical Society board and staff members joined theatergoers at the John W. Engeman Theater as Curator Terry Reid and Executive Director Caitlyn Shea presented co-owners of the theater Kevin O’Neill and Richard Dolce with the Northport Icon Award which honors the people and businesses that helped shape the Village of Northport.

After a fire in April 1932 left Northport’s first movie house (located at 256 Main Street) in ashes, The Northport Theater opened its doors on the site at 248-250 Main Street on November 23, 1932. The new theater was outfitted with 754 seats and offered the “latest and most popular pictures on the cinema screen” at the time. Although it changed hands several times, the movie theater remained in operation until 1999.

On June 30, 2006, Huntington resident and entrepreneur Kevin O’Neill and his wife, Patti, purchased the Northport Theater. O’Neill then partnered with theater expert and attorney, Richard Dolce, who had been running the Broadhollow Theater Company, to convert the Northport Theater into a year-round professional live theater. In tribute to Patti’s brother, Chief Warrant Officer Four John William Engeman, who was killed in Iraq on May 14, 2006, they renamed the theater the John W. Engeman Theater at Northport.

The Northport Icon Award coincides with the Northport Historical Society’s current exhibit, Iconic Northport, which opened last summer.  Other recipients include Tim Hess/The Shipwreck Diner, The Weber Family/Seymour’s Boatyard, The Great Cow Harbor 10K Race,The Northport Yacht Club and Vincent Terranova/Jones Drug Store.

Above, a rock wall in a wildflower garden will be featured in this year's tour. Photo from NHS

By Tara Mae

Step into the serene respite of a restorative stroll through historic gardens and finely curated flora with Northport Historical Society’s annual Summer Splendor Garden Tour on Sunday, July 10.

A self-guided tour of seven unique gardens in Eatons Neck, Northport, Fort Salonga, Asharoken, East Northport, and Greenlawn, this annual fundraiser for the society is one of its most popular events, according to Northport Historical Society Events Director Karol Kutzma. 

One of the gardens in the tour. Photo from NHS

“It’s a joy for the horticulturists of the community. We have carefully selected from some of the most distinguished looking gardens to cover a variety of gardening styles. Every garden is different,” she said.

These privately owned and personally curated plantings include explorations of horticultural artistry, such as an organic farm garden, a modern allusion to Long Island’s agricultural past, and a wildflower garden, carefully expanded over the years, inspired by the famed English gardens. 

The organic farm garden complements herb and pollinator plantings with a vernaculture design for an apiary as well as poultry coops, composting structures, and raised beds. The wildflower garden offers a visual banquet, interspersed with birdbaths and a rock wall. 

Another stop on the tour highlights a garden that was developed by slowly introducing native plants over a 10 year period. Pollinators, birds, insects, and other wildlife recognize the plants and use them for food and shelter. Like many on the tour, it is a deer resistant garden. The property also showcases a pond and rain garden. All of these elements are purposed to benefit the ecosystem. 

One of the gardens featured in the tour. Photo from NHS

Other gardens sport a plethora of shade and sun flowers, annuals and perennials, rose bushes, flowering shrubs, colorful trees, hidden paths, and sitting areas for immersing oneself in the sights, sounds, and natural perfumes. Crafted largely by the homeowners themselves, these gardens reflect different areas of interest. 

“This tour is so much fun because visitors get to explore extraordinary gardens they would not normally have access to and get inspired by the gardener’s creativity,” Northport Historical Society Director Caitlyn Shea said. “I am quite impressed with how the community comes together to support and fundraise for the Historical Society.” 

A few of the gardeners will be available to discuss their inspiration and process. Volunteers will be on site at every location to lead guests through the grounds, some of which also feature historic homes. One of the homes will be partially accessible and have a selection of food, drinks, and raffle tickets ready for purchase.

Each of the gardens will be only open to the public between noon and 4 p.m. Patrons will need to drive to the different stops on the tour and avail themselves of street parking. In order to enter the properties, they must present their tickets, which are actually tour booklets that give driving directions, comprehensive descriptions of the gardens, and other details. 

Interested parties may register for the tour online at www.northporthistorical.org. Tickets are $35 for members, $45 for nonmembers, and $50 if purchased the day of the tour. 

Patrons may pick up their ticket booklets at the Northport Historical Society, 215 Main St., Northport on Friday, July 8 or July 9 between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. or after 11 a.m. on July 10. Raffle donations will be accepted through July 5. 

For more information, please call 631-757-9859.

Image courtesy of Northport Historical Society

Home for Spring Break? Come visit the Northport Historical Society, 215 Main St., Northport on Wednesday April 20 from noon to 2 p.m. for a fun afternoon painting session with 50% of the proceeds going to help those in need in Ukraine. Each child and adult will paint their own canvas with Sunflowers on a Starry Night background. Step-by-step painting instructions will be provided by artist Caitlyn Shea.

$40 covers 2 canvases and all materials. This event is open to ages 8+ with a parent or guardian. To register, call 631-757-9859 or visit www.northporthistorical.org.

Photo from Northport Historical Society

The Northport Historical Society recently presented a historic map of Huntington to Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) in recognition of his support and efforts on behalf of the residents and community organizations within Suffolk’s 18th Legislative District. 

The map was created in 1873 by cartographer Frederick W. Beers as part of his “Atlas of Long Island.” It is a “snapshot” of the area and captures the Town of Huntington during a time of very rapid growth, which was spurred by the coming of the Long Island Rail Road in 1868.  

Spencer was quick to recognize that the boundaries on the 1873 map are almost exactly the same as his legislative district today and include parts of Lloyd Harbor, Huntington, Centerport, Northport, Asharoken and Eaton’s Neck.

With the map, above, are, from left, board member Carolyn Hyatt-Basche, Leg. Spencer, Society Director Andrea Miller and Society Vice President Philip Ingerman.

Reprints of the 1873 Beers map are currently available for sale in the society’s Museum Shop, located at 215 Main St. in Northport. For more information call 631-757-9859.

The Northport Historical Society will present a day of evaluation and intrigue as expert appraiser Lark Mason comes to Northport’s Village Hall, 224 Main St., Northport, on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A celebrity appraiser who has provided appraisals for the PBS traveling antiques show and iGavelAuctions.com, Mason and his team of experts will offer professional appraisals of antique furniture, collectibles, textiles, paintings, silver, jewelry, art and more.

Lark Mason

Last held in 2016, the historical society’s version of the PBS antiques show created quite a stir when a West Hempstead man found a simple pot he had inherited from his great aunt was actually an imperial Chinese brush pot valued at $30,000. As Mason said, “appraising is like trying to unravel a mystery … the thing that’s really joyful about what we do is to find things that have value and that someone is unaware of. … To share that with them sometimes dramatically changes the person’s life.”

A fee of $40 per item will be charged, $30 members, with a maximum of two items allowed per attendee. Along with Mason who will be appraising paintings and American and European works of art, are Lark Mason III who will be appraising Asian art and Niki Tiliakos who will handle jewelry and silver. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Northport Historical Society. Tickets for each item are available on the day of the event or may be reserved at www.northporthistorical.org/events.

In addition to the actual Appraisal Day, a Meet the Appraisers kick-off reception will be held the evening before the event from 6 to 8 p.m. at the society’s museum, 215 Main St. in Northport village. Tickets are $60/$50 for members and include beverages and hors d’oeuvres. To reserve, please call 631-757-9869 or visit the website listed above.

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A photo of Corporal Christopher Scherer of East Northport and some of his personal items on display in the Monuments Men exhibit.
Exhibit honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice

By Kevin Redding

For years, they were neglected. Passersby barely shot a second glance at the nearly 100 names of brave men and women from Northport and East Northport engraved on stone monuments on Main Street and in John Walsh Park — locals who lost their lives in service to their country in every conflict from the Civil War to the Iraq War.

But that all changed in recent months thanks to the efforts of Terry Reid and exhibit committee members of the Northport Historical Society.

Donated uniforms from the museum’s permanent collection, from left, World War II Army Air Force; Alan Salzman, Signal Corps, Vietnam War; and Peggy Zumbach, Navy Waves, World War II are in the exhibit.

“We don’t want people to just walk by these monuments anymore,” said Reid, curator of the historical society’s new and expansive Monuments Men exhibit, which opened Sept. 3. The exhibit showcases the stories behind these heroes with regiment and battle information, personal memorabilia, photographs, letters and mannequins draped in authentic uniforms and jackets — which Reid said is like “having our own troops standing guard.” World War II memorabilia includes a German hand grenade and a gas mask.

Items were pulled from military databases and museum records, while others were donated directly by family members of the fallen. “We wanted to put a face to every single name listed on each of those monuments so their memory would live on,” she said. “A lot of what we received must be priceless to these families but I think they knew the importance of this. Really, the whole gist of this exhibit for the veterans is: We won’t forget you.”

Reid, who was part of an exhibit put on by the historical society in 2015 marking the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, sought out any and all objects pertaining to the conflict at the time and began researching the names on the monuments. She was struck by photographs she found of soldiers and touched by their heartbreaking stories. It was then that she crafted the idea of shedding a light on all the local soldiers.

Once she got the green light from the historical society to helm the project, Reid reached out in search of anybody who had connections to the names, from members of the community on Facebook to the American Legion to Atria nursing home in East Northport. At the nursing home, she found and conducted a video interview with a Korean War veteran who detailed what he and his fellow troops went through during what’s been deemed “The Forgotten War,” which visitors can watch at a kiosk in front of the Korean War cabinet in the exhibit.

Multiple pieces of personal items belonging to Corporal Christopher Scherer, from East Northport who died in Iraq in 2007, is also highlighted, including the veteran’s lacrosse gloves from when he attended Northport High School, his Boy Scout lanyards, dog tags and even a photograph of his old bedroom — all provided by his family.

In mapping out a more personal exhibit, Reid also contacted Kevin O’Neill, a longtime friend of the museum and the co-owner of the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport. The popular venue was named in honor of O’Neill’s brother-in-law, an Iraq War veteran and East Northport native who died in 2006 at 45. Engeman’s medals and awards, as well as other pieces of memorabilia, were donated by his widow.

A photo of Stephen Scudder who fought in the Civil War on display in the exhibit

“It stirs up a lot of emotions when you walk through something like this,” O’Neill said of the exhibit. “It was 11 years ago that John was killed but it feels like yesterday. I think the historical society and Terry did a first-class, wonderful job with this exhibit. It’s very impressive, powerful and beautiful display. I encourage people to go and learn about these men and women.”

Steven King, the chairman of the Exhibits and Collection Committee at the historical society, said the public so far has responded extremely well to Monuments Men.

“We’ve been getting a lot of compliments because of the nature of the exhibit,” King said. “It’s kind of a difficult subject to take on, as it represents a lot of pain for families that have lost soldiers in recent years, but they’ve all come forward and helped us with the exhibit to make sure the War on Terror period is well-represented. Including the most recent heroes has special poignancy for many of the visitors who have spoken to us about their appreciation for this.”

The entire exhibit takes up half the museum and is made up of 10 fully stocked cabinets of items. While no women from the area have lost their lives according to the monuments, the exhibit highlights the history of their roles within the military throughout the years, including the Women’s Army Corps and Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, Reid said.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the society will host a special Veterans Weekend Trolley Tour on Nov. 12 (see below). In addition, a lecture by Ret. Col. Al Vitters, who served in Vietnam and was a powerful figure at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School in West Point, will be held on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. at the society’s headquarters. Vitters will reflect on his military career, which will cover when women were first admitted to the school in 1976. Admission is $5 per person, free for members.

“I just want people to stop and take a pause and really reflect and feel some gratitude for what these people do for us,” Reid said. “It’s important to the families that they are not forgotten and that their sacrifices stay in our hearts and minds. We all should be a little more thankful for our freedoms, as they come at a price, and we’re hoping this exhibit illustrates just how lucky we are.”

The Northport Historical Society, located at 215 Main Street in Northport, will present Monuments Men through May, 2018. Admission is free. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 631-757-9859 or visit www.northporthistorical.org.

Photos above by Heidi Sutton

Veterans Day Weekend Trolley Tour

All aboard! Have you ever noticed the trolley tracks that run through Northport? They’re all that is left of the trolley that ran from Woodbine Avenue to the Northport Railroad Station from 1902 until 1924.

On Sunday, Nov. 12, thanks to its sponsor Nolan & Taylor-Howe, the Northport Historical Society will run a trolley tour giving Long Islanders a chance to relive this important part of Northport’s past. Guided tours of the monuments in town honoring the Northport area fallen will be offered aboard a replica trolley generously provided by Mark of Elegance Limousine Service.

The tour, led by Northport Historical Society curator, Terry Reid, is a great family-friendly way to celebrate Veterans Day and learn about local history. Reid will share the stories of many of the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and who are currently also honored in the society’s new Monuments Men exhibit. Tours, which are approximately 45 minutes long, will depart from the Northport Historical Society at 215 Main Street at 1, 2 and 3 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers, and $10 for veterans and children under 15. Refreshments will be served. To purchase tickets please visit www.northporthporthistorical.org/events or call 631-757-9859. Proceeds from the tour support the society’s mission to preserve and promote the history of Northport and its surrounding communities.

Above, members of the Northport Historical Society and the Gardiner Foundation. Photo from Northport Historical Society

Northport Historical Society recently announced that the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation has awarded the Society a capacity building grant in the amount of $37,271. The funding will be used to strengthen and enhance the stewardship of the Society’s historic collection and resources and provide for greater outreach to the communities it serves, namely Northport, East Northport, Asharoken, Eaton’s Neck, Crab Meadow, and Fort Salonga.

Funds earmarked for the Gardiner capacity building grant center around the development of a comprehensive business plan designed to expand awareness about the Society’s projects, services, and events; determine methods to catalogue and share its Collection; and develop exciting ways to incorporate technology into its exhibits.

“We’re elated that the Gardiner Foundation awarded the NHS this substantial grant and in doing so, validates the Board’s belief that it is imperative for the Society to develop a long range business strategy at this moment in time,” said NHS President, Ted Kaplan. “We’re intent on growing the NHS’s audience and engaging the communities we serve to the best of our ability — and this grant lays the foundation for doing just that,” he added.

“The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation views the Northport Historical Society’s location, collections and programming as a vital part of its community and a key to the economic growth of downtown Northport. This grant will prepare them to move forward to a new era of outreach and engagement,” said Kathryn M. Curran, Executive Director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

In order to meet the needs of its community and better prepare for future audiences, The Society’s Board of Directors has determined that its single most important capacity building requirement is to make the 100-year old Museum building ADA accessible. By instituting the methods and goals outlined in the Gardiner grant, the NHS is confident that the development of a multi-tiered business plan will increase community involvement in the project and provide the framework to make that goal a reality.

Located in the historic 1914 Carnegie Library building on Northport Village’s Main Street, the NHS is the only local organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the communities comprising the Northport-East Northport School District.

Open six days a week, year-round, and operating with a part-time staff and numerous volunteers, the Society provides educational programs for both children and adults, and its Museum building serves as a central repository for the historic objects, photos and papers which encompass the heritage of the area. NHS exhibits and programs like their “Sunday at the Society” lecture series, historic walking tours, and quarterly Book Club meetings, encourage interest and appreciation for all things historical in the Northport area and make the Northport Historical Society one of the most active organizations in the area.

For more information, call 631-757-9859 or visit www.northporthistorical.org.

The Northport Historical Society hosted its annual Holiday House Tour this past Sunday, Dec. 12. Several houses in the area were decked out in Christmas decorations, with musicians playing and treats for each guest.