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Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation

Elected officials and representatives from the Three Village Historical Society attended the groundbreaking of the Dominick-Crawford Barn Exhibit and Education Center on March 5. Photo by Raymond Janis

On Saturday, March 5, the Three Village Historical Society held a groundbreaking ceremony near the site of the planned Dominick-Crawford Barn, marking its next chapter of education and historical preservation of the area.

Three Village Historical Society Director Mari Irizarry and President Jeff Schnee address attendees. Photo by Raymond Janis

The barn is a 175-year-old edifice that once stood in Old Field. TVHS plans to resurrect this barn at 93 N. Country Road in the field adjacent to the society’s East Setauket headquarters. It is an ambitious preservation project that will also accommodate expanded archives, an exhibition and education center, and a
gift shop.

“The barn is supposed to serve as a hub, as a community space for our surrounding area,” Mari Irizarry, director of TVHS, said. “We’ll have rotating exhibits, an education space, a new and robust gift shop and it will be a venue for members and friends alike to come and join.”

According to Irizarry, TVHS was originated by members of the community who recognized the need to preserve their local heritage. She said the construction of the barn is just the next iteration in that community tradition. Over half a century after its inception, TVHS presents a vision whereby history and community will converge at a single point.

The barn project is made possible by two significant grants. The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation has put $350,000 toward the construction of the barn and state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) secured another $300,000 in state funds for the project. 

Kathryn Curran, executive director of the Gardiner foundation, commended TVHS for its outreach initiatives and its commitment to the preservation of its local heritage.

“The Three Village Historical Society is really a model for other groups on how to engage the community,” Curran said. “That’s why we chose them. An educational facility like this will expand who they can reach and how many people will be able to come here. That’s really what the Gardiner foundation is looking for to promote
our history.”

A sign on the TVHS property shows a rendering of the exhibit and education center. Photo by Raymond Janis

For TVHS, community residents and donors alike, there is a consensus that the barn project will transform the character of the area. Jeff Schnee, president of TVHS, said this dream has been 20 years in the making and is now finally coming to fruition.

“This is going to be transformative for our organization,” he said. “This is going to give us the ability to bring in busloads of students, other nonprofits and other humanities organizations to use our 1,500 square-foot exhibition area. It will give us the ability to have graduate students as well as writers who are very interested in our archives.”

Schnee views the barn as a collective achievement, the product of collaboration between generous donors, engaged community members and a TVHS motivated to preserve its history for posterity.

“If we want to preserve history, there has to be the need, the desire to do that,” he said, adding, “If we don’t educate the next generation, then we lose that need and desire to preserve it.”

According to Irizarry, TVHS hopes the Dominick-Crawford Barn Exhibit and Education Center can be operational by 2023. The project is currently more than halfway to its overall fundraising goal of $1.3 million.

To donate, visit www.tvhs.org/buildthebarn.

Three Village Historical Society’s Director of Education Donna Smith and historian Beverly C. Tyler. Photo from TVHS

The Three Village Historical Society has been awarded a $125,000 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. The grant will be used to create and install Digital Tapestry, an augmented reality experience created by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. Digital Tapestry will focus on core members of the Setauket based Culper Spy Ring during the American Revolution and will incorporate technology that can be experienced through an app utilized on smartphones.

The exhibit is scheduled to open late Spring 2022 at The Three Village Historical Society History Center in Setauket. Digital Tapestry is an innovative, interactive, virtual experience that will use archival imagery that will guide the user through the exhibit. While using the app inside the exhibit, guests will meet key members of the Culper Spy Ring, who lived and operated out of the Setauket area, including Abraham Woodhull, Benjamin Tallmadge and Anna Smith Strong, to name a few of the narrators.

For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

Vanderbilt weathervane. Vanderbilt Museum Archives photo

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum has received a grant of $86,489 from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation that will finance the restoration of two weathervanes that once adorned the Vanderbilt Mansion and the Learning Center.

The mansion weathervane, once atop the Bell Tower, depicts a ship with wind-filled sails plowing through waves, followed by sea serpents, and includes dolphin forms sitting on top of a globe of stars. The sculptural work was created by Samuel Yellin, considered the foremost iron artisan of the twentieth century and known as the “Tiffany of ironwork.”

The large weathervane signifies William K. Vanderbilt II’s love of the seas, his years of circumnavigating the globe, exploring the oceans, and collecting specimens for his marine museum, The Hall of Fishes. The smaller weathervane is simpler — a rotating arrow with scrollwork and embellishments. Deterioration and public safety concerns led the museum to remove both weathervanes 30 years ago.

Restoration will be performed by Spirit Ironworks of Bayport, operated by siblings Rachel and Timothy Miller. For their restoration work at the Henry Street Settlement in New York City, they received the 2020 Stanford White Award for Craftmanship and Artisanship through the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art.

“We are thrilled that the Gardiner Foundation believes in the timeless significance of Samuel Yellin’s magnificent iron artistry — and in the Vanderbilt as stewards of an extensive repository of his unique art. We’re excited that the gifted, award-winning artisans at Spirit Ironworks will be restoring our Yellin collection,” said Vanderbilt Museum Executive Director Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan.

“Willliam Vanderbilt’s Eagle’s Nest is one of the few remaining North Shore estates open to the public. There were more than 1,200 built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Vanderbilt is one of the jewels of our Suffolk County parks system. These weathervanes, initially utilitarian objects, showcase the mastery of Yellin’s artistic interpretation and craftsmanship. Their restoration and re-installation will offer the visitor a new insight into how their Long Island Gold Coast neighbors curated and celebrated even the smallest details of their homes,” said Kathryn M. Curran, executive director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. 

“This commitment to preserve the two weathervanes produced by Samuel Yellin for William K. Vanderbilt II represents an incredible gift from the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation to Long Island’s rich heritage in the decorative arts. As the foremost artisan in wrought iron, Samuel Yellin fabricated architectural and ornamental fixtures for some of the more culturally significant constructions of the early twentieth century,” said Paul Rubery, director of curatorial affairs.

“In the past year, the weathervane — a unique alchemy of sculpture, scientific instrument, and public artwork — has specifically enjoyed renewed appreciation among art lovers and historians who seek to understand the full breadth of American craft. We look forward to the day when these historically significant works can greet our visitors from their proper positions on the Learning Center and Bell Tower rooftops,” he added. 

“Master blacksmith Samuel Yellin has an incredible body of work at the Vanderbilt Museum. By restoring two of his weathervanes, we gain respect for the elevated level of skill and design he used to create these works of art. Starting with a three-masted ship followed by sea serpents atop a star-filled globe, Yellin transformed a simple weathervane into a sculpture that honored his patron’s love of the sea, adventure, and exploration,” said Rachel Miller of Spirit Ironworks. 

“As fellow artist-blacksmiths here at Spirit Ironworks, we are honored to preserve a small part of his legacy by staying faithful to many of his means and methods used in these lovingly crafted weathervanes.”

Members of the Anna Smith Strong Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution with WMHO trustees, above, celebrate a $9,848 grant from NSDAR. Photo from WMHO

A historic house on North Country Road in Setauket is about to get some maintenance work to ensure it remains as a Three Village staple.

RDLGF Executive Director Kathryn Curran joins the WMHO trustees after the foundation awarded WMHO a $30,625 matching grant. Photo from WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization recently received two grants totaling $40,473 from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation and the Anna Smith Strong Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. WMHO will use the funds — a matching grant of $30,625 from RDLGF and $9,848 from NSDAR — to replace the roof of the Thompson House, built circa 1709. The replacement will help to keep the home structurally sound.

“To have grants from two of the most prestigious organizations is a wonderful gratification to the organization,” said Gloria Rocchio, WMHO president.

Rocchio added the grants will also help with a new program that is slated to begin in the spring of 2022. During the pandemic, Rocchio said, more information was uncovered about the house’s inhabitants.

The program will include stories about a visit from 10th President John Tyler (1841-45) and his wife, Julia Gardiner; correspondence between Benjamin Thompson and third President Thomas Jefferson (1801-09); and George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring (1778-83).

Rocchio said she found the new information fascinating, and WMHO educators also are excited about what they unearthed.

Kathryn Curran, RDLGF executive director, said the WMHO continues to evolve in serving the community in new ways. The foundation provides grants to organizations that preserve New York history, especially in Suffolk County.

“Their research on the Thompson House will add another layer to Long Island’s regional history,” she said. “The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation supports restoration of historic properties for organizations with educational outreach at the forefront of their mission.”

The second grant, according to Rita Newman, regent of the Anna Smith Strong Chapter, is one of the largest amounts given by NSDAR in both the state and the nation. The nonprofit, named after one of the Culper spies, promotes historical education.

Newman said it was a pleasure to sponsor WMHO’s request.

“WMHO is an outstanding community-minded organization which plays an active part in preserving, restoring and regularly holding educational programs at the Thompson House and  other historic structures, which they also own and maintain in our area,” she said.

Newman added that the house is a valuable asset not only on a local level but also to state and national history. The chapter participates in events held at the house, which is listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.

“During the American Revolution, the Thompson House was the home of Dr. Thompson, patriot, physician and farmer,” she said. “Among his patients listed in his ‘cash receipt book’ circa 1787, are members of George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring. It is a long-standing belief that our chapter’s namesake, Anna Smith Strong, who lived in Setauket during the American Revolution, was an important member of the Culper Spy Ring.”

Priya Kapoor. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Smithtown Historical Society has received a grant of $2,000 from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation for expenses generated during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order, New York State on PAUSE. The announcement was made in a press release on Jan. 4.

“We received the grant in 2020 when the times were rough, and we had canceled all our fundraising events due to COVID-19. We used the grant money at a very crucial time,” said Executive Director Priya Kapoor. “We are grateful to the Gardiner Foundation for their support during these extraordinary times!”

A drone captures a photo of The Van Wyck-Lefferts Tide Mill in Lloyd Harbor. Photo from The Van Wyck-Lefferts Tide Mill Sanctuary

One of the oldest industrial buildings on Long Island is about to get an upgrade.

The Van Wyck-Lefferts Tide Mill Sanctuary recently announced in a press release that the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation awarded it a grant of more than $97,000. The matching grant will go toward the restoration of the 223-year-old Van Wyck-Lefferts Tide Mill in Lloyd Harbor and the dam where it is located.

The tide mill sanctuary is a nonprofit established to preserve and promote public access to the three and one-half story 18th-century tide gristmill. Both the timber-frame wood tide mill and the 400-foot long earthen dam are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation’s mission is to advance Long Island’s regional history,” said Kathryn Curran, executive director of RDLGF. “All projects chosen to receive RDLGF funding each have their own individual impact, but mark a shared place in a larger story. The Van Wyck-Lefferts Mill is one of many local mills that dot this Island, each representing commerce, community devolvement and technology.”

According to the tide mill sanctuary, the grant will help to restore the earthen dam. The nonprofit will also be able to install a new roof on the mill building and do interior structural repairs. This work is expected to be completed in the middle of this year.

“The mill is considered one of the best preserved 18th-century tide mills in the United States and is one of only 10 surviving examples of tide mills in the northeast from Virginia to Maine,” said Robert Hughes, tide mill sanctuary board member and Town of Huntington historian. “The funding from the Gardiner Foundation will help to ensure the continued preservation of this remarkable structure, which was built in 1797 and continued to serve local farmers for the next three-quarters of a century.”

In the future, the nonprofit also hopes to shore up the bulkhead, which protects the mill’s stone foundation, and to restore the bridge over the spillway that connects the north and south sections of the dam.

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In 2020, Higher Ground was able to work on the roof of the Eato House on Christian Avenue. Photo from Higher Ground

The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation is playing a part in helping to restore the historic Eato House on Christian Avenue in Setauket.

The foundation recently awarded the Setauket-based Higher Ground Inter-Cultural & Heritage Association, Inc. an Organizational Capacity Building Grant. Higher Ground, which works to preserve the culture, indigenous inhabitants and historic inventory of the Native and Afro-American community, is currently restoring the house.

According to RDLGF, this type of grant will enable Higher Ground to work with four professionals in the areas of governance, collections, site assessment and outreach as the foundation will pay for the services. Higher Ground has been working on the continued preservation of the Bethel Christian Ave., Laurel Hill Historic District, and currently, the organization co-owns the house with Bethel AME Church.

“The Higher Ground project speaks to a story of diversity,” said Kathryn Curran, executive director of RDLGF. “This association highlights this area’s role in establishing and recognizing that important cultural heritage.”

Robert Lewis, president of Higher Ground, said the first stage of the Eato House’s restoration was completed Dec. 1. He added that the first stage of work focused on preventing water from penetrating the structure. To accomplish the goal, existing roof rafters were fortified and a new roof was insulated. New gutters and leaders were also added to match the 1900 architecture and the

A future second stage of work will focus on the foundation of the structure and interior stabilization.

“The second stage is obviously dependent on funding availability,” Lewis said. “The prospects for acquiring additional funding in the future will be much brighter when the RDL Gardiner Capacity Building Project is completed.”

The grant from the RDLGF grant will enable members of the Eato House Restoration Committee to be trained “to pursue and manage historic preservation activities; manage projects, and to adequately fulfill standard requirements for State registered non-profits,” according to Lewis. The grant will also introduce the organization to promotional activities, marketing strategies and high technology processing.

“Participation in the OCB project will increase the competency of Higher Ground to protect structures, documented history, environmental history; to preserve artwork, oral history and archaeological documentation,” Lewis said.

While RDLGF is known for helping to preserve Suffolk County’s history, other works of the foundation aren’t as well known.

“Less known, but equally successful, are the efforts of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to identify, and engage with small, relatively hidden areas of valuable, Native, and Afro-American history being lost in minority communities where small preservation organizations labor to survive,” Lewis said.

In a 2017 interview with TBR News Media, Bethel AME historian, Carlton “Hub” Edwards, said the Eato House was once home to the Rev. David Eato, one of the church’s first pastors, and his wife Mary Baker, a freed slave.

Baker moved to the North after being freed from slavery and settled in Port Washington where she was an organist at a church. It was there that she met Eato and, after marrying, the couple moved to Setauket, and the reverend became one of the first ministers of Setauket’s Bethel AME in the early 1900s. Mary took on the role of superintendent of the Sunday school and held the position until the late 1930s.

Edwards said the members of the Eato family owned the house until the church purchased it a few years ago.

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The historic building that houses The Jazz Loft on Christian Avenue in Stony Brook. Photo from WMHO

Tom Manuel, founder of The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook, is always grateful when someone comes along and offers a helping hand, but during the pandemic, his gratitude is overflowing.

The Old Stone Jug, above, prior to being moved to its current site in 1940. Photo from Tom Manuel

Before New York State’s mandatory shutdowns, the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation awarded The Jazz Loft a grant in the amount of $40,000 to match funds coming from local resident and patron Dan Oliveri.

The money is being used to renovate the southwest section of the basement, which is under the Old Stone Jug area of the venue. The undertaken has been dubbed Project Coal Bin, Manuel said. While the basement dates back to 1941, the Old Stone Jug was built in approximately 1770. The grant also covers equipment needed to archive information.

“What’s exciting is it’s going to be a multipurpose space where the grant was designed not just to redesign the space but to outfit it as an area that will be used for our archiving,” The Jazz Loft founder said.

He added that the Stony Brook University Department of Computer Science worked last year to design the computer programming for the archiving, which will open up doors for other grants in the future for additional archiving and preservation.

“It’s amazing how a group like the Gardiner foundation could allow so many great things to happen even indirectly after their grant is done,” he said.

He called RDLGF a lifeline for nonprofits and a “blessing for people on Long Island.” The admiration is mutual.

Kathryn Curran, right, and The Jazz Loft founder Tom Manuel, left, in the Count Basie Garden. Photo from Tom Manuel

“The Jazz Loft is an exceptional organization that engages the community on many levels,” said Kathryn Curran, executive director of the RDLGF. “The adaptive reuse of their historic building brings new and inventive life to this early structure celebrating the history of jazz through performances and art and artifacts.”

While the grant process was lengthy, Manuel said it was an excellent experience for him where before the pandemic he sat in on a grant-writing workshop given by Curran, and was able to exchange ideas with others. He said it was inspiring to learn about grants and the bigger picture of the longevity of nonprofits and the history of Long Island.

“After a while you realize, wow, it’s not so much about me writing this grant anymore,” he said. “It’s about The Jazz Loft being here for 100 years. This is about being responsible with what has been entrusted to me.”

Manuel also praised RDLGF for the funds they granted to nonprofits during the pandemic. Curran said the board was aware of the new problems nonprofits faced in 2020, and in June the board members approved a limited reimbursement grant to historical societies. The grants were intended to help organizations cover expenses during unscheduled closings. In total, RDLGF awarded more than $63,000 to help pay bills over a three-month period.

As for Project Coal Bin, Manuel said work began a couple of months ago. He indicated before major construction could begin, the old drop ceiling had to be removed in the section of the basement, while the plumbing and the electrical system needed to be updated. Manuel said when a person is downstairs and looks up, the hand-hewn beams of the Old Stone Jug are now visible after 80 years following the removal of a plaster ceiling.

The section of The Jazz Loft is called the Old Stone Jug due to its facade and was added by philanthropist Ward Melville, who moved the structure from its original location and made it an addition to what was once the original Stony Brook firehouse. It was then used as the Suffolk Museum, the forerunner of The Long Island Museum. Before it was moved, the Old Stone Jug, through the decades, was utilized for town meetings, operated as a tin shop and was used to store molasses jugs.

Manuel said they named the new section of the basement the Coal Bin after a former establishment in Southampton called Bowden Square. The owner Herb McCarthy’s mother would cook southern food and play jazz music for Black patrons in the basement, called the Coal Bin, during a time when Southampton was segregated.

Manuel said renovations in The Jazz Loft basement are projected to be completed before the end of the year.

The Commerdinger home in Nesconset, as seen today, was expected in 2006 to become a living museum.

Instead of selling their property to a developer for nearly $2 million, the family of Walter S. Commerdinger, Jr. sold to Suffolk County in 2006 their property on the north side of Lake Ronkonkoma with its historic home, circa 1810, for a reported $1.2 million. The idea, said Commerdinger’s heir, Paul Albert, was to turn the site into a living museum to honor the legacy of the family, regarded as one of Nesconset’s earliest settlers.

The home, which was in pristine condition when sold, has sat vacant for more than a decade now and has been repeatedly vandalized. Despite being awarded $100,000 in grant money for repairs from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, the county has allegedly not yet followed through with its end of the bargain.

The Commerdinger home in 2006, when the county purchased the site.

Both parties aim to renegotiate the agreement. 

Marie Gruick is a member of Nesconset Chamber of Commerce and she’s been helping Albert navigate the situation he’s facing with the government.

“They keep saying they’re broke,” Gruick said. “It’s been a bunch of empty promises. They just gave other communities $500,000 for a parking lot.”

The situation, though, highlights the challenges of preserving history on Long Island and in New York in general. Commerdinger Park and Marion Carll Farm, in Commack, are two examples of families hoping to preserve history with gifts of historic homes and properties to public entities. Both sites have historic homes that have fallen into a state of disrepair. 

Sara Kautz is the preservation director of Preservation Long Island. The not-for-profit organization works with Long Islanders to protect, preserve, and celebrate cultural heritage through advocacy, education, and stewardship of historic sites and collections.  The organization offers many services for free.  She said that more and more places are at risk.

John Kennedy Jr. (R) served as Nesconset’s county legislator in 2006 and helped facilitate the initial transaction for the Commerdinger site. Kennedy now serves as county comptroller and is running for county executive. His wife Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset) now serves as county legislator for District 12. She said there are no new updates.

“There’s a contract that everyone is reading through, so Commerdinger can join up with Smithtown Historical Society,” Leslie Kennedy said. “But it’s all in the talk stage.”

Gruick said the park is the last green space in Nesconset and its trails stretch to Lake Ronkonkoma. If the county isn’t interested in maintaining the home, she said, they should give it back. The family formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit, W.S. Commerdinger Jr. County Park Preservation Society, in 2008 to serve as stewards for the site but have been unable to accomplish what needs to be done for the house and its buildings. They say they feel like they’re on a merry-go-round.

“How long is the county going to dangle carrots,” Gruick said. 

The most immediate task, Gruick and Albert said, is to get PSEGLI to hook up the electricity to the site, so they can install security cameras to prevent further damage and to get county water hookup. What Gruick doesn’t understand, she said, is why the county is telling them that hooking up to electricity needs to go to bid if PSEGLI is the business that connects electricity. 

The county said in response to our inquiries that the order is in with PSEG, which needs to schedule the work. They could not provide a time frame for electric hookup and could only say that the request has been in for a while. 

Albert said that he has collections of antiques, including pottery crafted in the first kiln brought to America. He had hoped to move the pieces into the site by now. Formerly a banker, Albert said that he needs a lawyer that specializes in preservation but is unsure who has that expertise.

Crolius family heirs hope to exhibit a rare pottery collection in the Commerdinger home museum.

Kathryn Curran is the executive director of the Gardiner Foundation, a philanthropic group that supports historic preservation projects for 501(c)3 organizations with an education mission, but not for schools. 

The foundation offers $5 million in grants annually and said that some projects go more smoothly than others. When a municipality owns a building, she said, they typically have a contract in place with a “friends” group to manage the property. 

“The money is allocated to the friends group, not the municipality,” she said. 

Because of the “friends” agreements with government, she said the group needs town approval for the work and the contracts it hopes to secure. For some reason, towns or government entities don’t always feel comfortable with the process.

“We’re trying to give historic educational experiences to enhance a community,” she said. “It’s a downtown revitalization gift.”

She said that local businesses benefit when these projects are completed, so she doesn’t always understand herself why governments are reluctant. She said that many people are willing to volunteer as part of a friends group. These people, she noted, are also a precious gift. 

“It appears they don’t want to be beholden to private money,” she said. 

Gruick and Albert said they are frustrated but remain hopeful. They plan to meet with officials in the Town of Smithtown in the upcoming weeks for help. 

Renovations on the Red Barn in the Frank Melville Memorial Park, including straightening the building, were recently completed. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The weather was finally ideal for Frank Melville Memorial Park trustees, volunteers and friends to celebrate the completion of much-needed repairs to a historic structure.

Workers began restoring the park’s Red Barn at the beginning of September and completed the project a few months later. The 1,056 square-foot barn needed structural restoration, which included straightening, and the building up of the existing foundation to a level where it will be protected from flooding.

“The Melville Park is a historic oasis that now has an improved focal point, the Red Barn, to use to serve a larger population and build a new audience.”

— Kathryn Curran

On May 20 guests of the trustees enjoyed a reception complete with wine, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and desserts from Farm to Table Catering, as well as music from a few of The Jazz Loft performers.

Robert Reuter, president of the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation, thanked those who played a part in restoring the barn including Kathryn Curran, executive director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, who helped to secure a $44,330 matching grant for the park.

“Kathryn Curran and the trustees of the foundation saw the real community value in what we’re doing here,” Reuter said. “I think they understood when they saw the application that this really is one of the centers of our community. It’s part of a large area that is rich in history, and it’s often interpreted as that by the historical society and some of the others who celebrate that history.”

He said in addition to the foundation’s endowment, the community’s support also played a big part in the restoration. Trustee Greg Ferguson’s family foundation and another trustee who wished to remain anonymous created a $10,000 matching challenge. Reuter said the trustees’ friends exceeded the goal and came close to matching the Gardiner grant. He said the balance needed for the barn came from park funds that were budgeted for park repairs.

Curran said the Gardiner Foundation seeks out projects through community outreach that advance regional history.

“The Melville Park is a historic oasis that now has an improved focal point, the Red Barn, to use to serve a larger population and build a new audience,” she said.

Curran said she and the foundation board members were pleased with the completed project. Scott Brown was chosen to work on the renovations by the FMMF board and has worked on other Gardiner projects including the Ketcham Inn in Center Moriches, the Modern Times Schoolhouse in Brentwood and the Caroline Church of Brookhaven’s Carriage Shed in Setauket.

“As a restoration carpenter Scott’s empathy to our historic sites is rooted in respect for their traditional construction,” Curran said. “His work helps bring these buildings back to life for their newly designated purposes.”