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Interior view of Fort Moultrie, Charleston, South Carolina, April 1861, where Scanlan served during the attack on Fort Sumter. Photo from a stereograph; Library of Congress

Cedar Hill Cemetery is located in Port Jefferson on a commanding site high above the village’s downtown and harbor.

Among those at rest in the cemetery, there are over 40 soldiers and sailors who served with the North during the Civil War.

Capt. C. A. Scanlan is also buried in the cemetery, but he fought against the Union forces in the South’s Lost Cause. His tombstone is inscribed with “C.S.A.,” the initials representing the Confederate States of America.

Who was this former Rebel officer and how did he become one of Port Jefferson’s permanent residents?

Charles Anthony Scanlan was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, in 1825. Married twice, he had a daughter with his first wife.

Scanlan worked as a shipsmith on the docks in Charleston, South Carolina, worshipped at the city’s First Baptist Church, was a Freemason, and belonged to the local militia.

Scanlan’s tombstone at Port Jefferson’s Cedar Hill Cemetery.
Photo by Kenneth C. Brady

After South Carolina seceded from the Union, Federal troops transferred from the garrison at Fort Moultrie to the stronger Fort Sumter, both part of Charleston’s harbor defenses. Scanlan was among the Carolinians who then occupied the abandoned Fort Moultrie.

Scanlan began his duties at the emplacement on Jan. 1, 1861, served as an acting military storekeeper and readied the stronghold’s guns and ordinance for what would become the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

The action began on April 12, 1861, when a ring of Confederate batteries around Charleston Harbor hammered Fort Sumter, the barrage announcing the start of the Civil War. Described as a “sergeant” in a later account of the assault, Scanlan led a detachment of six men in Fort Moultrie’s magazine, one of the emplacements blasting the Union forces

Following the evacuation of the Federal garrison at Fort Sumter, Scanlan was assigned to Fort Walker on South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island. In official accounts of the battle, Scanlan was identified as a “lieutenant” and commended for his work in the citadel’s magazine.

After tours at South Carolina’s Castle Pinckney and Fort Beauregard, Scanlan was assigned to Fort Sumter, where he was wounded in August 1863 during the Union’s bombardment of the Confederate stronghold.

Scanlan ended his days in the military as a captain. He returned to Charleston where he resumed his work as a shipsmith, later pursuing an entirely new career.

Phosphate rocks, which existed in large quantities near Charleston, were used in the manufacture of commercial fertilizer. Scanlan fabricated machinery that improved the dredging of the valuable rock from South Carolina’s riverbeds. Securing patents on his inventions in 1877 and 1883, Scanlan profited handsomely from the extensive phosphate digging in the Ashley River region.

During the mining operations, fossils were found in the phosphate deposits. Fascinated with natural history, Scanlan began gathering the specimens, amassing the largest private collection of fossils in South Carolina and among the largest in the nation.

Following the death of his second wife Eliza in 1890, Scanlan moved to Port Jefferson to live with his daughter Mary Estelle who had married Henry Randall, a prominent Port Jefferson businessman and banker.

The Randalls spent summers at their house on Port Jefferson’s Myrtle Avenue and winters at their home in Brooklyn, with the elder Scanlan joining in the seasonal move.

Scanlan quickly became well-known in Port Jefferson. In 1893, he exhibited portions of his fossil collection at the village’s Athena Hall (Theatre Three) and later in many of Port Jefferson’s storefronts.

But two events brought Scanlan even wider acclaim. His fossils were displayed at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and at the Agricultural Palace during the Charleston Exposition, both shows earning Scanlan rave reviews for his superb collection.

Interior view of Fort Moultrie, Charleston, South Carolina, April 1861, where Scanlan served during the attack on Fort Sumter. Photo from a stereograph; Library of Congress

Besides providing his fossils for public viewing, Scanlan donated items from his collection to universities and museums in the United States and abroad, where paleontologists used the specimens in their studies of early forms of life.

Growing older, Scanlan reflected on his years in the military, thinking that at the time of the Civil War he had been “in the right” to support disunion, but later coming to believe he had fought in a “mistaken cause.”

Although he had once worn Confederate Gray, Scanlan was treated respectfully in Port Jefferson by his former foes. During Decoration Day ceremonies at Cedar Hill Cemetery in May 1905, he was among those honored by Lewis O. Conklin Post 627, Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a Union veteran organization with a “camp” in the village.

Scanlan died in Brooklyn in 1907. Following Baptist services held at his son-in-law’s Port Jefferson home, Scanlan was buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

In 1913, Scanlan’s massive collection of fossils, amounting to over nine barrels of diggings, was sold by his estate to Connecticut’s Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History where Scanlan’s legacy lives on.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as s 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 second Bayles Chandlery, left, was destroyed in an 1897 waterfront fire and the Willse-Bayles Homestead, right, was leveled in 1917. Photo by George B. Brainerd; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Professional photographer Arthur S. Greene and amateur photographer John M. Brown are well known for their images of early Port Jefferson, but another talented photographer who also recorded life in Port Jefferson is hardly a household name. 

Unlike Greene who had a studio in Port Jefferson or Brown who besides being a shutterbug was Port Jefferson’s postmaster, photographer George B. Brainerd primarily documented urban Brooklyn.

Razed in June 1965, the Petty Building stood on Port Jefferson’s Main Street and housed the Port Jefferson Times weekly newspaper. Photo by George B. Brainerd; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Renowned for his city scenes, it is often forgotten that Brainerd also photographed the rural landscape on his jaunts throughout Suffolk County including then sleepy Port Jefferson.

Born in 1845, Brainerd attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, worked as a civil engineer, was Brooklyn’s deputy water purveyor from 1869 to 1886, and is considered a pioneer of amateur photography.

Over the course of his trips to Port Jefferson in 1878 and 1879, Brainerd photographed a variety of the village’s buildings — many of which are no longer standing. 

One image shows the Methodist Church, which was later sold at auction, moved from Port Jefferson’s Spring Street to Main Street, converted into a storehouse, and destroyed in a September 1904 blaze.

Another view depicts the office of the Port Jefferson Times. The weekly newspaper was housed on the west side of Port Jefferson’s Main Street in the Petty Building which was razed in June 1965. 

Brainerd’s photo of the north side of Port Jefferson’s East Broadway pictures the second Bayles Chandlery which was destroyed in a July 22, 1897 waterfront fire and the iconic Willse-Bayles Homestead which was leveled in December 1917 to make way for what is now the Port Jefferson Village Center.

Additional images show the Port Jefferson Flour Mill on West Broadway, sold in 1918 and later dismantled; Smith’s Hotel on Main Street, renamed the Ardencraig Inn and lost in a 1920 blaze; and Raynor’s Hotel on East Main Street, commonly known as the Port Jefferson Hotel, demolished in 1949. 

Raynor’s Hotel on Port Jefferson’s East Main Street was demolished in 1949. Photo by George B. Brainerd; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Besides these shots, Brainerd’s panoramic views of Port Jefferson capture the village’s Cedar Hill Cemetery, original railroad station, Emmett B. Darling Shipyard, John R. Mather Lumber Shed, tranquil harbor, inviting streets, and gracious homes. 

Gifted in freezing the Port Jefferson scene for posterity, Brainerd has left us with a treasure, providing an invaluable record of what it was like to live in the village before its suburban development.

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.

Stock certificate issued by the American Mining and Milling Company. Note the signature of Thomas Girvan, Silas B. Dutcher’s successor as the corporation’s president. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

What was happening at the entrance to Port Jefferson Harbor?

Between 1887-88, the American Mining and Milling Company had built some kind of a plant on the beach adjoining the harbor’s east jetty, but the secretive corporation had not told villagers what it planned to do at the factory.

Located on land in what is now McAllister County Park, the complex included three frame structures containing engines and machines, a track for railcars, stables, a dock and housing for laborers. Pipes brought fresh water to the works from an offsite well.

This chart, prepared by the United States Army, Corps of Engineers, June 30, 1884, shows the beach adjoining the Port Jefferson Harbor East Jetty where the plant was built. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Led by its president, prominent Brooklyn financier and politician Silas B. Dutcher, the AMMC had cobbled together the property by leasing shorefront on the east side of Port Jefferson Harbor from Brookhaven Town and the 1200-acre Oakwood estate from the Strong family. 

Thomas Girvan, the superintendent of the plant and Dutcher’s successor as the AMMC’s president, was pressed by Port Jefferson’s residents and local newspapers to reveal the corporation’s intentions, but Girvan was not forthcoming. In addition, the AMMC’s employees were sworn to secrecy and worked behind barricaded doors.

The mystery only fueled wild rumors in Port Jefferson where villagers speculated that the AMMC was digging for Captain Kidd’s treasure, extracting aluminum, manufacturing roofing materials or making fine glass.

The AMMC was actually experimenting with a new method for grinding stone and sand. Seeing enormous profits in the venture, management was guarding the process from potential competitors.

The finished product, as fine as flour, was sold for filtering purposes, while byproducts, such as bird gravel, were marketed as well.

Not enjoying much commercial success, the plant closed in summer 1892, its income insufficient to meet the AMMC’s significant outlay of capital and labor. Lawsuits quickly followed, creditors demanding monies due and employees back wages.

After the works was sold at a sheriff’s sale, limited operations at the plant resumed in Dec. 1892, but attempts at reviving the flagging business were dashed on Sunday, Jan. 15, 1893, when a spectacular fire of undetermined origin destroyed most of the complex.

The American Mining and Milling Company’s factory was located on land in what is now McAllister County Park. A rare 1890 photo by Elmer P. Smith. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Without insurance on the plant, the new owners removed what could be salvaged from the ruins of the blaze and closed shop in Port Jefferson.

In the years following the fire, there were reports that some of the former employees at the AMMC’s complex had contracted a fatal lung disease, perhaps brought on by continually inhaling stone dust, marking a deadly end to the plant’s operations in Port Jefferson.

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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View of Port Jefferson village and harbor from Cedar Hill Cemetery from a colorized post card. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

There is a rich selection of non-fiction books about Port Jefferson’s early years, but perhaps because they are mostly novels and magazine articles, L. Frank Tooker’s literary works are not often found on Port Jefferson’s local history bookshelf.

This omission is unfortunate since Tooker’s writings transport us back to nineteenth-century Port Jefferson, letting readers feel the village’s past as formal history cannot, making a bygone age live again.

Tooker was born in Port Jefferson on Dec. 18, 1854 and came from a seafaring lot. He was raised in a house at 108 High Street, a short walk from the village’s harbor and shipyards where he spent much of his spare time.

While still a youth, Tooker sailed aboard his family’s ships and traveled to exotic ports, including one memorable voyage during the Civil War to Christiansted on Santa Cruz Island in the West Indies.

After graduating from Yale, Tooker served as the Suffolk County deputy clerk before joining the editorial staff of The Century Magazine where he worked from 1885-1925 and first recognized the talents of “unknown” author Joseph Conrad.

Tooker and his wife Violette (nee Swezey) resided in various communities including Brooklyn and Riverside, Connecticut, but frequently returned to Port Jefferson where they summered with their children, Lewis and Helen.

L. Frank Tooker, while on the editorial staff of The Century Magazine. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

In Tooker’s first novel, “Under Rocking Skies,” we sail on a brig bound for Santa Cruz Island along with Tom Medbury, the vessel’s mate, and Hetty March, the captain’s daughter, a couple destined to fall in love.

The plot is typical of many romances, but it is the author’s depiction of “Blackwater,” the homeport where the story begins, that holds the reader’s attention.

Tooker peppers his tale with references to Blackwater, a thinly veiled Port Jefferson, with descriptions of its streets, churches, shoreline, cherry trees, shops, and wharves, capturing life during the village’s shipbuilding heyday.

“The Middle Passage,” Tooker’s second novel, recounts the adventures of David Lunt, a native of Blackwater, who sails on a number of ships, one chartered to transport a “cargo” of enslaved Africans to the New World, another to carry arms for South American revolutionaries.

Returning to Blackwater between each of his hair-raising voyages, the high-spirited Lunt woos Lydia Wade, but is prohibited from seeing the young woman because of his wild ways.

After a penitent Lunt publicly acknowledges his reckless behavior, Lydia’s father relents and allows the courtship to continue.

Through Lunt, we also discover there is a dark side of Blackwater, where a two-faced “Captain Joe” pretends to be an upright citizen, but secretly profits from the illegal slave trade, suggesting the complicity of some from Port Jefferson in fitting out the slaver Wanderer in 1858.

Besides historical fiction, Port Jefferson is central again in “A Boyhood Alongshore,” one of the scores of features penned by Tooker and published in The Century Magazine.

In the story, Tooker reminisces about growing up in the 1860s during Port Jefferson’s “cherished past,” a time for him of flying kites, playing marbles, fishing, swimming, boating, and gathering beach plums.

But Tooker is at his best when writing about the “smells of the shipyards,” especially in the article’s excellent account of the launching of the bark Carib at Port Jefferson’s Bayles Shipyard in 1868.

“As long as life lasts,” Tooker concludes the piece, “I shall go to the high, green hill back of our village where lie our dead” and the view over land and water is “always beautiful.”

Seemingly drawn to Port Jefferson’s Cedar Hill Cemetery, Tooker was buried there following his death on Sept. 17, 1925, marking the return of a native son to his beloved village.

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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Crowds gather at Port Jefferson’s Bayles Landing awaiting the departure of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the yawl Myth II. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Franklin D. Roosevelt launched his 1932 campaign for president of the United States by sailing from Port Jefferson across Long Island Sound into New England coastal waters.

Roosevelt had accepted the Democratic presidential nomination on July 2, 1932, at the party’s convention in Chicago.

Returning to New York where he was governor, FDR announced he would be going on a week’s cruise with his sons and departing from a secret Long Island location, later revealed as Port Jefferson.

Escorted by state troopers, Roosevelt motored from his home in Manhattan to Port Jefferson, arriving in the village around noon on July 11, 1932.

As seaplanes roared overhead, FDR was greeted by the tooting of boat whistles, screeching of car horns and the cheers of the hundreds who had lined Water Street (East Broadway).

Roosevelt made his way to Bayles Landing and boarded the Myth II, a 37-foot yawl rented for the trip from Prescott B. Huntington of St. James, New York.

Offering sleeping accommodations for six and a galley with a two-burner range, the unpretentious vessel had a black hull, orange deck and white cabin. With no auxiliary engine, the Myth II was solely dependent on her three sails for power.

Before casting off, FDR chatted with two local boys, Randall Woodard and Gilbert Kinner, who would become instant celebrities in Port Jefferson when they appeared in dockside photos and newsreels with the presidential nominee.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York State Governor and Democratic presidential nominee, is pictured aboard the yawl Myth II as he prepares to leave Port Jefferson on a vacation cruise with three of his sons.
Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Getting underway, a launch captained by E. Post Bayles pulled the Myth II into the choppy waters of Long Island Sound where the tow was parted, and the yawl caught the wind.

At the helm, Roosevelt laid a course for Connecticut, backed by a crew of three of his four sons, as well as friend George Briggs, who kept the ship’s log.

The luxury yacht Ambassadress, chartered by FDR’s supporters and advisers, and the motor yacht Marcon, packed with newspapermen covering Roosevelt’s voyage, followed in the Myth II’s wake.

Ostensibly, the vacation cruise was to provide FDR with rest and relaxation before beginning his campaign for president, but the trip was more about politics than recreation.

Roosevelt anchored at several ports during his “holiday” including New Haven, Connecticut; Marblehead, Massachusetts; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

At these locations, FDR worked to bring dissident Democrats into the fold, meeting with political leaders from New England who had supported former New York State Governor Alfred E. Smith as the party’s presidential nominee.

During each stop, political heavyweights attended strategy sessions aboard the Ambassadress and Roosevelt held daily press conferences with the reporters tagging along on the Marcon.

A victory for the Democrats, the extensively photographed cruise showed Roosevelt as a vigorous leader who was prepared to command the “Ship of State” as well as he captained the Myth II, countering claims that FDR was a helpless invalid crippled by polio.

Roosevelt would go on to defeat Republican candidate and incumbent President Herbert Hoover in the Nov. 8, 1932 election, marking the end of a campaign that began on a summer day aboard a sailboat in Port Jefferson Harbor.

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 photo shown here of the 1910 hill climb are from the Lazarnick collection, Detroit Public Library, credited to Spooner & Wells, a New York City photography company

By Robert Laravie 

A 1907 two-day endurance tour by the Long Island Auto Club may have planted the seed of a hill climb event in Port Jefferson. The 1907 tour had a stop in Port Jefferson for lunch at Mrs. Smith’s house, then went on to Greenport and back to Brooklyn. 

A June 30, 1910, article in The Automobile indicated that a well-known promoter and local “live wire,” W.J. Fallon, organized a hill climb which was held June 25. Sixty-seven cars were entered.

The hill climb was sponsored by the Port Jefferson Auto Club and run on West Broadway, a course of about 2,000-feet in length, with an average grade of 10% and a peak of about 15%, ending at the Belle Terre Gatehouse. The local club contact was listed as G.E. Darling.

The hill climb was divided into 16 events by cost of auto, cubic inches of engine displacement as well as a “free for all” and a few events for cars owned by local club members and residents of Port Jefferson. 

The fastest time was 20.48 seconds (about 68 mph) in a Fiat owned by E.W.C. Arnold and driven by Ralph DePalma. The slowest car, 1 minute, 36.58 seconds (about 14 mph), in a Knox driven by E.B. Hawkins.

Two other clubs participated in the events, the Crescent Athletic Club and the Long Island Auto Club. Knox cars won the most events totaling five wins and the results were widely used in advertising for the cars. 

Various manufacturers entered their cars in the event including  Oakland, Buick, the Only Motor Car Co. (a Port Jefferson-built car), Houpt-Rockwell, Pope-Hartford, Zust and Berkshire Automobiles.

Two cars entered were owned by women, Mrs. J.N. Cuneo entered her Knox and Mrs. J.A. Ferguson entered her Lancia.

The photoshown here of the 1910 hill climb are from the Lazarnick collection, Detroit Public Library, credited to Spooner & Wells, a New York City photography company

Hawkins, the postmaster of Huntington, protested one event, claiming that the car driven by Fallon was not in fact owned for the required 30 days prior to the event.

A second protest was entered by J. Bell claiming the Knox entered by Fred Belcher in the stock events was in fact not in “stock” condition. 

The hill climb was rerun on Sept. 9, 1911, and a commemorative event was staged in 1925. That event was won by a locally built car, the F.R.P. — Finley Robertson Porter. 

A F.R.P. now resides in the Seal Cove Auto Museum in Mount Desert Island, Maine.

Reenactments of the hill climb took place in 2010 and 2015. There will be another event Saturday, Aug. 14, starting 10 a.m. at the Village Center. A rain date is set for the following day. For more info visit the website: portjeff.com/events/hillclimb.

Robert Laravie grew up in East Greenbush. He is a retired landscape architect, and worked for the New York State Department of Transportation on Long Island, New York City and on the Tappan Zee Bridge project in Tarrytown. He is currently a resident of Port Jefferson and has been a local conservancy member for the past six years. 

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A steam locomotive is shown in August 1878 at Port Jefferson’s original LIRR depot and freight house situated west of Main Street (Route 25A). Photograph by George B. Brainerd; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive.

After the Long Island Rail Road brought a branch to Northport in 1868, a group of prominent Port Jefferson businessmen lobbied for extending the north shore branch eastward to their village.

Although a leading wooden shipbuilding center in the years following the Civil War and blessed with one of the finest harbors on Long Island, Port Jefferson was surprisingly isolated for so important a village.

Going to New York City by train involved a tedious stage ride from Port Jefferson to Medford, the nearest station on the LIRR’s main line, followed by a rail trip to Long Island City and a ferry run across the East River to James Slip in Manhattan.

Stock certificate for the Smithtown and Port Jefferson Rail Road Company, which was absorbed by the LIRR. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Port Jefferson Harbor often froze over during the winter and limited travel by packets, steamboats and other vessels engaged in waterborne commerce.

Hoping to make Port Jefferson more accessible and boost its economy, a committee of villagers was formed and charged with inducing the LIRR to bring freight and passenger service to Port Jefferson.

The diverse group included realtor William Fordham, publisher Harvey Markham, druggist Holmes Swezey, and tinsmith John Lee. They met regularly from 1868-1870 with representatives from St. James, Setauket, Stony Brook, and other communities where support for extending the Northport branch was strong.

Following lengthy discussion, a proposal was submitted to and accepted by the LIRR. The Smithtown and Port Jefferson Rail Road Company, organized in 1870, pledged to raise the money necessary to construct the 18-mile extension from Northport to Port Jefferson. Upon completion of the project, the LIRR agreed to lease and operate the franchise for 20 years.

Respected Port Jefferson shipbuilder James M. Bayles was elected president of the Smithtown and Port Jefferson Rail Road Company, and Robert W. Wheeler, who ran a flour/saw mill in Port Jefferson, served on its board of directors. The corporation had an authorized capital stock of $200,000, divided into shares of $25 each.

After surveys were completed, rights-of-way secured and contracts finalized, construction began on the 18-mile road. Gangs worked from 1871-1873 on separate parts of the route. The eastern, or Port Jefferson section, employed 200 men under the direction of Captain John Scully.

On Monday, Jan. 13, 1873, the first train left Port Jefferson at 6 a.m. with 24 passengers for the over three-hour, 58-mile trip to Long Island City. The fare on the inaugural run was $1.90.

The terminal at Port Jefferson, including a depot, freight house, turntable, and platform, was located on the west side of today’s Main Street (Route 25A).

The coming of the Smithtown and Port Jefferson Rail Road Company, which was absorbed by the LIRR in 1892, raised property values in Port Jefferson and eased travel to and from the village. 

The railroad also brought tourists to Port Jefferson, hastened the village’s transition from a shipbuilding center to a vacationland, lessened Port Jefferson’s dependence on sea trade, and made the village a transit hub. 

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 Bay View Pavilion, left, and Wilson’s Sail Loft, right, are pictured on the waterfront off Port Jefferson’s East Broadway. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Once a lively Port Jefferson hotspot, the Bay View Pavilion was located in the village on the north side of Water Street (East Broadway).

The building was situated on shorefront property leased from Brookhaven Town by the Ladies Village Improvement Society (LVIS) of Port Jefferson, which also funded Bay View’s construction.

The two-story pavilion was 20 feet wide and 40 feet long, open on all four sides and protected from shoreline erosion by a stone seawall.

Bounded by a small lawn on its east and west, the building was painted green and adorned with a decorative sign, “Bay View,” donated by gifted local artist William M. Davis.

Opening to the public on July 4, 1901, the pavilion soon became a village landmark and well known for its summertime activities including ice cream socials, bazaars, cake sales, band concerts, dances and church outings.

Bay View Pavilion was located on the north side of Port Jefferson’s East Broadway. Shown decorated for Old Home Week, 1911, the building was the center of summertime activities in the village. The site of the former pavilion is known today as Mary Bayles Park. Photo by Perry; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Water carnivals were also held at Bay View’s public dock which had been built by LVIS in cooperation with the Port Jefferson Yacht Club.

During the Old Home Week celebrations of 1908 and 1911, the pavilion hosted swim meets, boat races, diving contests and other aquatic activities.

Because of its prime waterfront location near Wilson’s Sail Loft, the Harbor View Hotel, F. F. Darling and other establishments, people were drawn to Bay View where they took in the ever-changing sights, but unfortunately the pavilion was also a magnet for rowdies.

The situation had gotten so out of control by 1924 that Leopold Cordier, who ran a paint store next door to Bay View, was appointed a deputy sheriff with authority to keep order at the pavilion.

Bay View also suffered from neglect and was in such poor condition that in 1927 the Port Jefferson Business Men’s Association called for the pavilion’s immediate removal.

After the Bay View eyesore was razed, the plot where it had stood remained largely unimproved until 1943-1944 when Brookhaven Town developed the property as parkland and the Suwassett Garden Club of Port Jefferson landscaped and maintained the grounds.

The site of the former pavilion is known today as 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.

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Port Jefferson’s salt meadow land is depicted west of Jones Street, today’s Main Street, on this portion of E. Belcher Hyde’s 1909 Atlas of Suffolk County, volume two. Photo from Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Typhoid fever broke out in Port Jefferson in 1919, 1921 and 1924, sickening scores of villagers, claiming the lives of others and revealing shortcomings in the public health system.

Although uncommon in the United States today, typhoid fever is contracted by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by someone who is shedding Salmonella Typhi or if sewage contaminated with the bacteria gets into the water used for washing food or drinking.

The symptoms of typhoid include sustained fever, weakness, stomach pain, headache, diarrhea or constipation, cough and loss of appetite. 

The communicable disease struck Port Jefferson during September and October 1919, resulting in 29 cases and one death. The State Health Department concluded that the outbreak was probably due to the “infection of the milk supply by a typhoid carrier.” Officials who investigated the epidemic found other unsanitary conditions in Port Jefferson.

Sewage was disposed in the village’s downtown by surface drains which emptied on the salt meadows located west of Jones Street, now Main Street. The marshes flooded during high tide, carried human waste over a wide area and polluted soil and water. 

Port Jefferson’s salt meadow land is depicted west of Jones Street, today’s Main Street, on this portion of E. Belcher Hyde’s 1909 Atlas of Suffolk County, volume two. Photo from Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

The salt meadow land, referred to as the “swamp section” in local parlance, was used as a public dump, known for its horrible stench and avoided by villagers during low tide when the unsightly filth hidden by high water was exposed.

As early as 1894, members of the Ladies Village Improvement Society had urged Brookhaven Town to build modern sewers in Port Jefferson, but a new system was still not in place during the 1919 typhoid outbreak.

The dread disease returned to the village in fall 1921, left 14 dangerously ill and took the life of prominent Port Jefferson businessman Gilbert E. Loper. Once again, a dairy employee was suspected of being a typhoid carrier. 

Charles L. Bergen, former chief of the Port Jefferson Fire Department, fell victim to typhoid in August 1924 when the disease struck the village and sickened 31 others. Health officials surmised that the typhoid outbreak was likely “milk-borne,” adding that the offending milk was unpasteurized and that local dairies were not regularly inspected.

The epidemic also showed that Port Jefferson was unprepared to handle the surge of typhoid victims. St. Charles Hospital then specialized in the care of disabled children and Mather Hospital was yet to open.

The Catholic sisters from the Daughters of Wisdom had graciously proposed to establish an annex on the grounds of St. Charles Hospital for typhoid sufferers alone. Out of an abundance of caution, their kind offer was not accepted because there was a dairy nearby the planned site.  

When a critically ill patient from Port Jefferson was transported to a private hospital in Patchogue for medical treatment, some of the latter’s merchants decried the move, contending it might frighten away summer vacationers during the height of the tourist season.

Jacob Dreyer, editor of the Port Jefferson Times, attacked the Patchogue Argus, alleging that its slanted coverage of the typhoid outbreak was no more than an attempt to boost Patchogue at the expense of its stricken sister village. 

The Port Jefferson Business Men’s Association was also concerned about the impact of the outbreak on the local economy, arguing that the metropolitan newspapers had exaggerated conditions in the village and that the negative publicity had dampened sales in Port Jefferson. 

The city papers countered that both the Port Jefferson Echo and Port Jefferson Times had suppressed news of the epidemic and sugarcoated the harsh reality of the outbreak.

As no new typhoid cases were reported in Port Jefferson and life returned to normal in the village, there were calls for a county hospital, model health laws and full-time health officers. 

The epidemic also stoked long-simmering tensions between Patchogue and Port Jefferson and revived calls for Port Jefferson’s incorporation and the village’s right to govern independent of Brookhaven Town.   

More important, the outbreak led to improvements in Port Jefferson’s sewerage system, frequent inspections of local dairies, the filling in of the village’s lowlands and other prevention measures, effectively ending the scourge of typhoid fever in Port Jefferson.  

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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Lester H. Davis’ Ice Plant was located along the waterfront on the north side of East Broadway. Photo by Arthur S. Greene, photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Parker’s Pond was an artificial body of water located in Port Jefferson, west of Main Street, directly across from today’s First United Methodist Church.

Long filled in, the man-made pond was created by stonecutter Andrew J. Parker, who in 1861 — along with his wife and children — settled in Port Jefferson where the opening of Cedar Hill Cemetery two years earlier had brought job opportunities for tombstone sculptors.

In 1865, Parker bought a house and meadow land at the foot of Port Jefferson’s Spring Street and established a marble works on the site.

Not just a stonecutter, Parker was also a blacksmith skilled in building ploughs for harvesting ice.

Parker’s Pond, also known as Crystal Lake, was located west of Main Street, directly across from today’s First United Methodist Church. Photo by Arthur S. Greene, photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Natural ice was a valuable commodity during the 19th century. Collected in winter from frozen ponds, lakes and rivers, the crystal treasure was stored in icehouses until the warmer months. The ice was then sold and used in domestic and commercial settings to preserve food, cool drinks and prepare ice cream.

In 1869, Parker presaged his entry into the lucrative ice trade by purchasing Port Jefferson meadow land neighboring his business and cobbling together the separate parcels into one large tract.

A stream originated in the hills above Parker’s newly acquired property, ran north through his land, flowed into Port Jefferson’s salt meadows, joined the village’s Old Mill Creek, and discharged into Port Jefferson Harbor.

Parker created a pond by damming the stream as it crossed his property, first clearing the land and then in partnership with Josiah Randall building an icehouse to serve the site.

In winter 1873, ice was first harvested from the pond by Parker’s Crystal Lake Ice Company, the names Parker’s Pond and Crystal Lake soon becoming synonymous.

Over the years, the pond and its icehouse were leased to various parties who cut the ice and stored the crop. In 1881, Crystal Lake reportedly yielded 600 tons of quality ice.

In 1891, directing his energy to the temperance movement, Parker sold his two-acre pond to investor John Davis.

Davis leased the pond in 1893 to the Nassau Trout Association. The freshwater anglers stocked Crystal Lake with fry but abandoned the venture in 1894. 

In 1901, butcher Lester Davis opened an ice plant on the north side of Port Jefferson’s East Broadway, effectively ending natural ice harvesting at Crystal Lake. At Davis’ factory, artificial ice was manufactured year-round, unaffected by the vagaries of weather and safer than the products of suspect waters. 

While Port Jefferson moved from old to modern technology, idyllic Crystal Lake remained a popular attraction among skaters. On some winter days, upwards of 100 people glided along on the frozen pond.

A scenic landmark in Port Jefferson, but no longer important to the ice trade, the pond as well as Parker’s former home were sold in 1910 to Fred Griswold, who also purchased Athena Hall (Theatre Three) in a separate transaction.

In 1911, Griswold’s North Shore Electric Light and Power Company reclaimed ground from Parker’s Pond and built a powerhouse on what is now Maple Place.

The landscape surrounding Crystal Lake continued to change as other structures rose near its waters. In 1927, the Port Jefferson Fire Department laid a cornerstone for its new station north of the pond on Maple Place.

In 1930, Griswold began showing “talkies” at the Port Jefferson Theatre, formerly Athena Hall, which he remodeled to seat 600 people. Griswold also provided free parking at the cinema, where patronage had increased following the introduction of movies with sound.

Lester H. Davis’ Ice Plant was located along the waterfront on the north side of East Broadway. Photo by Arthur S. Greene, photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

The parking lot was entered from Maple Place, could handle 200 cars, and made by dewatering Parker’s Pond and covering its exposed bed with cinders. As the dumping of fill continued, evidence of the former pond gradually disappeared.

Located in a declivity, Griswold’s parking field was subject to storm water runoff, but the construction of a box culvert in 1934 channeled the area’s surface waters and eased the situation. 

In a village bedeviled by inadequate public parking, the theatre’s lot was eyed as a prime location for a municipal parking field.

In 1961, a local committee proposed the creation of a Port Jefferson Parking District, which would have entailed the building of a parking lot at what was once historic Parker’s Pond. Facing spirited opposition from villagers, the scheme was abandoned.

In September 1980, New York State’s Department of Transportation presented a proposal to build a parking field at the former Crystal Lake site.

Spokesmen for the Port Jefferson Fire Department argued that blacktopping and elevating the property would cause flooding at the firehouse on Maple Place.

Although the State later scrapped its plan, the Port Jefferson Fire Department bought the parcel, thus insuring the Department’s stewardship of the lot. Landscaped and seeded, the acreage is now used by the village’s volunteer firemen for training and recreation.

While there is no marker indicating that the site was formerly an ice pond, fish farm, skating rink, scenic landmark, and parking field, the soggy feel underfoot hints of earlier times.

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.