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Setauket Neighborhood House

Falling leaves and cooler weather signal the arrival of the Setauket Artists’ annual fine art exhibit at the Setauket Neighborhood House. Now in its 40th year, the event will be held from Oct. 25 to Nov. 17. What an exciting time for the organization where many of the artists have been together since the very beginning!

Exhibiting artists include Ross Barbera, Ron Becker, Eleanor Berger, Rina Betro, Joan Bloom, Kyle Blumenthal, Joyce Bressler, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Julie Doczi, William Dodge, Marge Governale, William Graf, Melissa Imossi, Anne Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Celeste Mauro, Judith Mausner, Lorraine McCormick, Jane McGraw-Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musarra, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Paula Pelletier, Joe Reboli, Dino Rinaldi, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Carole Link Scinta, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Angela Stratton, Marie Lourdes Velez, Marlene Weinstein and Patricia Yantz.

Founded by Flo Kemp, the organization has been led by the group’s president Irene Ruddock for the last 15 years. “The health of our artists and community members are most important so we were not planning an in-person show. However, after learning that the New York State allowed art shows if all the guide lines were strictly followed, we decided to go ahead with our celebration,” said Ms. Ruddock. “Fellow artist, Dr. Frederick Mendelsohn is chairing the safety committee to ensure that all precautions are taken,” she added.

A grand opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 25 from noon to 4 p.m. and the group will host two open house weekends, Nov. 7 and 8 and Nov. 14 and 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Two oil paintings, “Eventide” by Margaret Governale and “Poquott Boats” by Al Candia, will be raffled off.

“We will be requiring social distancing of six feet, the wearing of masks, regular sanitizing, and allowing only a certain number of people in at a time as well as many other suggested NYS procedures,” said Dr. Mendelsohn.

Art lover Fred Bryant is honoring the organization again by being its sponsor which will pay for many of the organizations many expenses. This year, because of COVID, the organization needed an outdoor tent with heaters and pre-packaged snacks for people waiting to enter the show. “Fred’s generous contribution will certainly help defray those costs,” said Ms. Ruddock.

The outside tent with heaters will become the waiting area where smaller paintings and unframed paintings and prints will be exhibited. Light refreshments that are individually wrapped will be offered.

Every year, the artists choose an artist whom they honor. This year’s award goes to watercolorist Anne Katz. Ms. Katz is treasurer of the organization as well as being responsible for the brochure. “Anne is  truly dedicated  to this organization, a person who absolutely never says no to any request! We wonder how we would ever do without her. Her work in watercolor and oil is art at its best-luminous light with a joyous tone that speaks to her love of local Long Island scenes,” said Ms. Ruddock. 

The Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main St., Setauket presents the 40th annual Setauket Artists’ Exhibition daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Oct. 25 to Nov. 17 (closed Oct. 30 and 31). For more information, visit www.setauketartists.com.

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By Beverly C. Tyler

Stories, anecdotes and tales are the remembrances that add shape and substance to family history. Recording or writing down these bits of folklife can be an enjoyable experience for family members. It is also an excellent way to keep alive the memory of generations past and preserve the interesting details of the lives of ordinary people, who lived in a different time with a different way of life.

I can remember years ago my father told me a story about his father that had been passed down to him by his cousin. My grandfather died when my father was 12, hence the lack of a more personal remembrance.

My grandfather, Beverly Swift Tyler, had been captain of coastal sailing vessels all his working life. After he retired from the sea, he continued to enjoy sailing and being on the water. He built a 31-foot gaff-rigged catboat, named the Madeline, behind the Lake House which he owned and ran as a hotel and summer boarding house, now the Setauket Neighborhood House. The boat was constructed under the critical eye of neighbors and friends, who had no hesitation about making suggestions to improve the work as it progressed. When completed, the Madeline was considered a fast boat and won a number of sailing races against other boats in the area. One individual, who Grandfather beat quite often, was constantly after him to sell the Madeline. Finally, Grandfather agreed, and he sold the catboat to the man.

The next year Grandfather began work on a new catboat which he completed in 1906 and named the Setauket. While he was building the new boat, the same kibitzers came around to make suggestions. He, very curtly, referred them to the Madeline as being their community boat and that he was building the Setauket by himself.

The Setauket, as related by cousin Roger Tyler, “was oak ribbed with pine planking. The original mast was sixty feet, made of strips of wood bound together making the mast hollow in the center. The mast was (eventually) shortened to forty-five feet. The canvas was very heavy and was cleaned by lying (it) out on the beach and scrubbing with water, scrub brushes and sand.”

The Setauket was raced in Port Jefferson and won consistently against all competition (including the Madeline). It got to be so that they would not tell Bev when a race was to be run and a few times he found out about them only just an hour or so before the race but raced and won anyway.

“The Setauket required two to handle it,” Tyler noted. “The canvas was extremely heavy and difficult to raise and control.”

The Setauket was also used by my grandfather to take summer guests staying at the Lake House on excursions around Port Jefferson Harbor and into Long Island Sound. Grandfather installed a two-cylinder engine in the Setauket, probably after 1913. Then, when the mast was removed a sun cover was added. This arrangement was more comfortable for and still gave guests an enjoyable afternoon on the water.

Grandfather married my grandmother, his third wife, in 1912 at the age of 57. Together they continued to run the Lake House as a hotel and summer resort until 1917, when it was purchased by Eversley Childs and donated to the community.

The Setauket was sold, about 1825, and used to carry coal for a coal company in New Jersey. It was brought back a few years later by Theron and Leon Tyler, cleaned of coal dust and eventually used again as a sailing craft. It finally sunk a number of years later off Horton Point, which is north of Southold on Long Island’s North Fork. My grandfather died Oct. 12, 1926, and is buried in the graveyard of the Caroline Church of Brookhaven in Setauket.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

'Harvest's End' by Marge Governale

When autumn arrives, residents of the Three Village area may start to think of the annual fall art show that has become a true community treasure. The Setauket Artists will host its 38th Artists’ Exhibition 2018 from Oct. 28 to Nov. 19 at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket. 

‘Last Cottage’ by Fred Mendelsohn

Over 40 award-winning artists will participate in the show this year including Lana Ballot, Ross Barbara, Shain Bard, Eleanor Berger, Rina Betro, Joan Bloom, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail L. Chase, Anthony Davis, Julie Doczi, Jeanette Dick, W.A. Dodge, Marge Governale, Peter Hahn, Melissa Imossi, Laurence Johnston, Anne Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Michael R. Kutzing, John Mansueto, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musarra, Genia Neuschatz, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Paula Pelletier, Denis Ponsot, Joseph Reboli, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Carole Link Scinta, Sungsook Setton, Barbara Jeanne Siegel, Angela Stratton, Mac Titmus, Nancy Weeks, Marlene Weinstein, Laura Westlake and Patricia Yantz. 

‘Perfect Day’ by Lana Ballot

The exhibition will kick off with an opening reception on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. All are invited to this free event to enjoy some light refreshments while viewing the beautiful artwork, all of which will be for sale. Take a chance on winning a painting by four Setauket artists, the proceeds of which support the art organization. Marlene Weinstein will offer a photograph titled “Fishing Boat Trio,” John Mansueto will offer an original oil, Muriel Mussara will offer a watercolor titled “Conscience Bay” and Frederic Mendelsohn, this year’s honored artist, will also offer an original oil painting. 

For over 10 years, Fred Bryant of Bryant Funeral Home has sponsored the Setauket Artists, allowing this exhibit to be one of the most attended functions in the Three Village area.  

‘Autumn Reflections’ by John Mansueto

This year’s distinguished guest artist is David Peikon, renowned oil painter and winner of many awards throughout the country. Tom Mason, known for his old master paintings and portraiture, will be the distinguished judge.  

If you miss the first reception, you will have a chance to meet your favorite artists at the second reception at the annual Wine and Cheese Art Event held on Friday, Nov. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. Many new paintings will be displayed for the evening, just in time for holiday giving.

“Don’t miss this once-a-year opportunity to attend the receptions or daily viewing to see paintings that are classic and enduring and have given credence to our motto “Art for a lifetime,” said Irene Ruddock, coordinator of the event, adding, “After the exhibit, visit www.SetauketArtists.com to learn about the group’s Art Consultation feature where you may arrange to see paintings in your home before you decide whether or not to purchase them. The paintings of the artists include a wide range of modalities featuring work that is impressionistic, contemporary or traditional, including a portrait artist who will paint the perfect likeness of your loved ones or pet.”

For further information, you may contact  Irene Ruddock at [email protected] or 631-365-1312. For viewing hours at the Setauket Neighborhood House, visit www.setauketartists.com on the Events page.

Developmental Disabilities Institute and a homeowner are currently under contract for the nonprofit to buy a Setauket home for six young adults with autism and developmental disabilities. Photo from Zillow

Residents on one cul-de-sac in Setauket and its surrounding streets aren’t putting out their welcome mats for potential future neighbors.

Smithtown-based Developmental Disabilities Institute is currently under contract to buy a house on Cynthia Court. DDI plans to use it as a residential home for six young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. On July 16, the nonprofit invited residents from Cynthia Court and Sherry Drive to an informational meeting at The Setauket Neighborhood House to allow them to familiarize themselves with the organization. Tables were set up where attendees could ask DDI representatives questions regarding renovations to the home required to convert it from a four-bedroom to six-bedroom home, safety concerns and other issues.

Kim Kubasek, DDI associate executive director, said when looking for the ideal house, the organization works with real estate agents who are familiar with the size and style homes DDI needs, and then the residential development coordinator reviews the listings and screens out those that are too close to other group homes to avoid saturation in a neighborhood.

DDI held an informational meeting for residents, below, July 15 at The Setauket Neighborhood House. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“The house in Setauket was one of approximately two dozen that our team considered after screening the multiple listings,” Kubasek said. “Considerations include square footage, property size, the amount of off-street parking possible at the home, the layout of bedrooms and living space, the proximity to hospitals, day programs, recreational opportunities, the fair market value of the house and many other factors. The cost of the house and the potential cost of renovations are also factors we consider since we must work within the allowable budget for such development.”

At the July 16 meeting, traffic concerns and safety issues were on the forefront of the minds of the majority of residents who attended, which also included those living on streets surrounding Cynthia and Sherry. Many believed the home would be better suited for a through street instead of one that only has one way in and out. A number said they had no issues with the individuals who would live there.

A few residents who live on Cynthia Court said the families in the cul-de-sac can be found regularly riding bikes, throwing frisbees, walking dogs and even out with sleds in the snow, especially the children. Others pointed out that DDI may be a nonprofit but it’s still a business with employees, and they were concerned that staff members would be going back and forth all day in their cars and this would cause a safety issue for the children playing outside.

Kubasek said DDI is planning to do its best to create a good amount of off-street parking and the house has a garage. She said the organization is also proposing to expand the driveway and create a parking area behind the house.

During the day and night shifts, there will be three or four staff members each shift, and the night staff consists of two people, according to Kubasek. During the day, staff members including a nurse or behavioral therapist may stop by.

“We do a lot of training around vehicle safety and around being a considerate neighbor and being a good neighbor.”

Kim Kubasek

“We really instill in our staff a sense of pride in that area,” she said. “We do a lot of training around vehicle safety and around being a considerate neighbor and being a good neighbor.”

Penelope Drive resident Ed Hill said this isn’t the first incident where people in the neighborhood have felt they have been imposed upon. He said residents have encountered issues with visitors to Sunrise of East Setauket, a senior living home parking cars along  Hills Drive, which is how residents on Cynthia Court access the development. He said there are more cars than usual during holidays on the street, and when it snows, it’s hard for plows to clean. He said he also felt the DDI home in the neighborhood would lower property values.

“A home is a lifetime investment,” Hill said. “So now homeowners are not going to get the full value of what their house is worth because this is next to it.”

Hill and others said they worry if the young men living in the house will act out since they have developmental disabilities.

Kubasek said the clients are not violent, and DDI staff members actually worry about them.

“In many ways they don’t have that sense of safety that they should have as young adults,” Kubasek said. “We try to instill that in them but also be there to protect them while we’re teaching the day-to-day life skills they need.”

She said in other houses DDI residents attend block parties, and in the S-Section neighborhood in Stony Brook, they go to the neighborhood clubhouse and they participate in activities.

Domenick Giordano, who lives on Penelope Drive, said he felt it was going to negatively affect the whole community and encouraged his neighbors to speak to their elected officials.

“I expect all of our elected officials to fight this to the very end,” Giordano said. “They’re shoving this down our mouths.”

In a phone interview, Kevin Long, a Setauket resident and former DDI board member, said he was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment but wished he had. Long’s 16-year-old son Timmy has both autism and Down syndrome. His son needs help with eating, prompts to go to the bathroom and help with bathing himself and brushing his teeth. While he and his wife are able to take care of his son at home, Long said one day when they are older they may need a DDI group home for him.

“I expect all of our elected officials to fight this to the very end.”

Domenick Giordano

“As a parent with a child who cannot function independently, knowing that there is an option where my son can live in a home in a loving environment with some of his peers with specially trained professionals, and they are highly trained, means a lot,” Long said.

He said there is a good deal of state regulation when it comes to the group homes in terms of the amount of training and vetting of the staff. From his experience, he said the DDI homes are well maintained, and the clients are good neighbors and not violent. He said some may have self-injurious behavior where they may do something like putting a foreign object in their mouth, but they are not a danger to others.

Kubasek said DDI, which runs 38 residences in Nassau and Suffolk counties, is currently in a 40-day notification period with the Town of Brookhaven and residents can reach out to town representatives. The town has the right to ask the nonprofit to choose another location if they think there is a saturation of group homes in the area.

Once DDI and a homeowner close on a house, it can typically take six to nine months to secure all of the approvals and complete the renovations, according to Kubasek.

Setauket Neighborhood House. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Irene Ruddock

The Setauket Neighborhood House (SNH) is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a fundraiser like no other in its long history! All are welcome to support this local community treasure by joining your neighbors for a Taste of the Neighborhood event on Friday, May 11 from 7 to 10 p.m.

Coordinated by Janette Handley, secretary of the SNH board, the evening will feature exquisitely prepared cuisine by local restaurants offering their signature dishes. In addition, there will be raffle baskets filled not only with exciting theme surprises but with gift certificates given by local businesses that have shown unwavering support for this community house. Raffle baskets will be beautifully wrapped by Debbie Bryant of Bryant Funeral Home with committee coordinator Bonnie Connolly. Live music by students at Ward Melville High School, under the guidance of director Jason Chapman, will round out this once in a lifetime event. 

 Come see the Ballroom’s exquisite new wood floor recently completed with funds from past fundraisers, a trust fund and grants secured by Alice D’Amico from Assemblyman and friend of the SNH, Steve Englebright (D-Setauket). Leading this ballroom floor project was board member Bob Spatny who worked tirelessly to implement the board’s desire to preserve the structure of this house that is over 200 years old. Additional support from longtime board member James Carpenter helped to defray the ever-rising maintenance costs. The Setauket Artists, with their yearly donation for over 37 years, as well as the support of other organizations who use the house, have also contributed to this annual upkeep.

The original part of the Setauket Neighborhood House was built in the 1700s. In 1820, it was moved from Conscience Bay, Setauket to its present location by Dr. John Elderkin. After Elderkin’s death, his son John ran Ye Old Elderkin Inn, providing the community with a general store, bank, post office, drug store and library. During the 1860s, before the completion of the Long Island Rail Road, the inn served as a home for a stagecoach line that ran between Setauket and the Lakeland Railroad Depot. 

By 1893, Captain Beverly Swift Tyler was running the inn, which was renamed the Lakeside Inn. His son, Beverly Griffin Tyler married Blanche Carlton Tyler, a beloved community member, who served as an officer on the board of trustees of the SNH for over twenty years. After the death of her husband, Blanche married Lewis G. Davis and was named “Good Neighbor of the Year” in 2010. She died in 2016 and the Board Room of the SNH was renamed the Lakeside Room in her memory in 2017. 

In 1918, Old Field industrialist, Eversley Childs and his wife Minnie, purchased the property with an endowment they presented to the community, as well as providing funds for the addition of the Ballroom. This historic building is now administered by the Setauket Neighborhood Association and has since served as a community meeting house for 100 years. 

“It warms the heart to think of the joy and comfort the house has afforded the hundreds of thousands gathered here over many generations,” said President Tim O’Leary. “I am amazed at the support from all of the community for this house to help with our expenses. I wish to thank everyone who will attend our fundraiser, but also thank those who support the house during the year by becoming a Friend of the SNH.” 

The Setauket Neighborhood House is located at 95 Main St. in Setauket. Tickets for Taste of the Neighborhood may be purchased for $35 per person at the door or $30 online. A check for $30 per person may also be sent payable to the Setauket Neighborhood House, P. O. Box 2192, Setauket, NY, 11733. If you cannot attend, you may send a donation to become A Friend of the SNH to the same address where your name will be forever listed in the official house records. For more information, please call 631-751-6208 or visit www.setauketneighborhoodhouse.com.

Author Brian Kilmeade will make a stop at the Setauket Neighborhood House as part of a tour to promote his latest book ‘Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans.’

By Heidi Sutton

Fox News’ “FOX & Friends” morning show co-host Brian Kilmeade will visit the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main St., Setauket on Monday, Feb. 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. to promote his latest book, “Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle That Shaped America’s Destiny.” The event is hosted by the Three Village Historical Society and will include a special book signing, lecture and Q&A.

This is Kilmeade’s fifth book and his third history-focused book with co-author Don Yaeger. The first two, “George Washington’s Secret Six” (2013) and “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates” (2015), spent a combined 37 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

“I’ve always found Andrew Jackson interesting, especially the way he led America to victory during the Battle of New Orleans,” said Kilmeade in a recent email when asked why he chose Jackson to be the topic of his new book, adding, “Jackson was a self-taught Militia General who won almost every battle he faced while suffering from bullet wounds and dysentery.”

In summarizing the book, Kilmeade said, “I like to think of the War of 1812 as a rematch of the Revolutionary War — this time without the help of the French. Before Jackson was called on to lead, the British were slaughtering the Americans on the battlefield — and it really looked like we needed a miracle. Notorious for his leadership and tenacity, Jackson led a ragtag team of frontier militiamen, French-speaking Louisianans, Cherokee and Choctaw Indians, freed slaves, and even pirates. On Jan. 8, Jackson’s troops defeated the British in under 45 minutes. In this book, you’ll learn how this oft-forgotten battle shaped America’s destiny.”

The Massapequa resident last visited the area in 2014 to promote his book on George Washington. “It was wall to wall people,” said Steve Healy, president of the Three Village Historical Society in a recent interview. “The history topic was a little closer to home. ‘George Washington’s Secret Six’ was about the Culper Spy Ring in Setauket, which always creates local interest.”

Healy said the historical society recently reached out to Kilmeade again and invited him to speak at its monthly lecture series. “We are very excited,” he said. “We love it when history is the main topic. The Battle of New Orleans was an interesting battle that propelled Andrew Jackson into the national spotlight.”

Kilmeade is looking forward to returning to Setauket. “I love the rich history and character that emanate through the unique little town,” he said.

According to the TVHS president, Kilmeade will briefly talk about his first two history-focused books and then delve into his current book. “There is a lot to discuss in the battle of New Orleans,” said Healy, adding that photos may be taken at the book signing portion of the program.

Preregistration is required by visiting www.tvhs.org as space is limited. No tickets will be sold at the door. Entry fee, which includes a copy of Kilmeade’s book to be signed, is $40 per person, $30 members. Entry to the lecture only is $10 per person, free for TVHS members. For further information, please call 631-751-3730.

Update: This event is sold out!

'Autumn Light' by Lana Ballot
An autumn tradition returns to the North Shore

By Irene Ruddock

Now in its 37th year, the Setauket Artists’ Exhibition, featuring the works of over 40 local artists and artists from all over Long Island, will return to the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main St., Setauket from Oct. 22 to Nov. 20 with viewing daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An opening reception will be held on Sunday, Oct. 22 from 1 to 4 p.m.

‘Long Island Sunset’ by Eileen Sanger

Participating artists this year include Lana Ballot, Ross Barbara, Eleanor Berger, Robert Berson, Rina Betro, Sheila Breck, Renee Caine, Al Candia, Gail Chase, Anthony Davis, Julie Doczi, Jeanette Dick, W.A. Dodge, Paul Edelson, Stu Gottfried, Donna Grossman, Peter Hahn, Melissa Imossi, Laurence Johnston, Anne Katz, Flo Kemp, Karen Kemp, Michael R. Kutzing, John Mansueto, Jane McGraw Teubner, Terry McManus, Eleanor Meier, Fred Mendelsohn, Muriel Musarra, Genia Neuschatz, Iacopo Pasquinelli, Paula Pelletier, Denis Ponsot, Joe Reboli, Joan Rockwell, Robert Roehrig, Irene Ruddock, Eileen Sanger, Carole Link Scinta, Sungsook Setton, Barbara Siegel, Patricia Sloan, Angela Stratton, Marlene Weinstein, Laura Westlake and Patricia Yantz.

‘From Here You Can Almost See the Sea” by Iacapo Pasquinelli

The distinguished judge this year is David Peikon, a “contemporary realism” oil painter who is an instructor at the Art League of Long Island. Peikon has had over 18 solo shows and his work is in corporate and private collections throughout the world.

Each year, the Setauket Artists honor a special artist who’s work is admired and who has contributed greatly to the show. It is an award especially appreciated since it is chosen by one’s peers. Muriel Musarra, a watercolorist and oil painter and a member of the Setauket Artists for 37 years, is this year’s choice. Her work is in many collections and exudes a certain quiet peacefulness that has charmed the community for years.

The three paintings being offered for the raffle this year are the following: “Giclee of Giverny #1” by Renee Caine, a recent Artist of the Month recipient for LIMarts; “An Afternoon in Tuscany,” an original pastel by Donna Grossman, instructor of drawing and oil painting at The Atelier in Saint James; and “Nissequogue Overlook,” an original acrylic by John Mansueto, a well-known painter from the South Shore.

Fred Bryant of Bryant Funeral Home has generously offered to be the Setauket Artists sponsor again. The artists applaud Bryant’s loyalty by providing funds that have made the exhibit more professional.

‘One Daisy’ by Angela Stratton

This year, the Setauket Artists introduce their new website, www.setauketartists.com. We invite you to take a look and sign up to join our mailing list. The website will tell you about the 37-year-old organization called Setauket Artists: its history, artists, paintings, Children’s Scholarship Fund, and our newest feature, art consultation.

Art consultation is designed to create a personal relationship with buyers who may want to purchase a piece of art but are unsure of where to begin to obtain art that best suits their surroundings. After suggesting many paintings, we will bring the actual paintings to your home or office where you will see the artwork in its environment, with no obligation to purchase. Art consultation is available all year long; we look forward to providing you with affordable paintings that truly fit your needs and our motto: Art for a Lifetime.

‘Setauket Bridge’ by Muriel Musarra

The Setauket Artists will continue their art scholarship fund for children in the Setauket schools, presenting these awards at the reception opening. This year’s recipients of the awards for drawing and painting are Will Boonin in memory of Setauket Drawing Group member Andrew Schmitt, Jaden Chimelis in memory of Setauket Artist Burt Woods and Paloma Papageorge in memory of artist JoAnn Coane, given by her husband Jim Coane.

If you miss the first reception, join the Setauket Artists for a free wine and cheese reception on Friday, Nov. 10 from 5 to 7 p.m. where music will be provided once again by singer Caterina Dee.

For additional information, visit www.setauketneighborhoodhouse.com, Setauket Artists on Facebook or call 631-365-1312.

Irene Ruddock is the coordinator of the Setauket Artists.

Claudia Friddell
Margo Arceri

Join the Three Village Historical Society for a special Family Walking Tour and Talk on George Washington’s spies on Monday, July 17 at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main St., Setauket. Local historian Margo Arceri will lead a walking tour at 5:30 p.m. (please arrive by 5:15 p.m.) followed by a guest author visit and spy acitivity with children’s book author Claudia Friddell at 7 p.m. No registration is necessary. Walking tour is $10 per person/talk is free. For more information, please call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

 

Dating back to the 18th century, The Setauket Neighborhood House has served as a private home, an inn, a post office, a bank and a general store, among others. Today it functions as a community meeting house. File photo

By Irene Ruddock

Now that spring is here, every homeowner wonders how everything in their home is ever going to get repaired. Just multiply that concern many times to imagine the projects needed for the improvement and upkeep of a beloved community treasure — the Setauket Neighborhood House (SNH). In helping to provide funds for projects that are needed to keep this historic building for all the community to enjoy, the SNH will host its 5th annual Taste of the Neighborhood fundraiser on Friday, May 12 from 7 to 10 p.m.

In past years, funds raised from this annual event have helped with the upkeep of the house, parts of which are over 200 years old — rebuilding a beautiful front and back porch, replacing the roof, building chair storage units, purchasing a new furnace and paying bills! This year, the house, which is located at 95 Main Street in Setauket, is in need of a new ballroom floor, a grand undertaking that will enhance the house immeasurably and ensure continued enjoyment and participation by the community. What an exciting adventure that will be! Here is your chance to be a part of it!

‘Shadow Play’ by Irwin Traugot will be raffled off at the event.

On May 12 you will also be given the opportunity to join your neighbors to come together for wonderful food provided by the generosity of 16 of our local restaurants. Taste the signature dishes of Amici Restaurant, Bagel Express, Bliss, Chick-fil-A, Country House, Curry Club, Fifth Season, Fratelli’s, Mario’s, Old Field Club, O Sole Mio, Pumpernickel’s Deli and Market, Setauket Gourmet Deli, Setauket Pastaria, Three Village Inn and Villa Sorrento. Wine and beer will be served along with other refreshments, compliments of the SNH.

Of course, a fundraiser wouldn’t be the same without raffle baskets, so plan on taking a chance on over 15 beautiful baskets donated by community and board members. There will also be plenty of gift certificates from local business owners. A special thanks to Debbie Bryant, who for years has dedicated her time and talent by wrapping and organizing our baskets. Drawings will be conducted that evening, but you don’t have to be present to win.

To add to the elegance of the evening, an art retrospective will feature the paintings of Irwin Traugot. Traugot, a beloved Setauket Artists’ member, has been exhibiting annually at the house for 35 years. The artist will also donate a beautiful painting for the raffle; his other paintings are for sale with a portion of the proceeds going to the SNH. They will be on view for several weeks after the event for all to enjoy. Finally, live music will be provided by music students from Ward Melville High School.

Tickets for this event may be purchased for $30 online at www.setauketnh.org or at the door for $35. Checks are payable to Setauket Neighborhood House and may be mailed to P.O. Box 2192, Setauket, NY 11733. For more information, please call 631-751-6208.

Elizabeth Monroe

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

History came alive on the distaff side last Monday night, as Elizabeth Kahn Kaplan talked about the nine first ladies born in New York State. Kaplan, a longtime resident of this area, author and prominent member of the Three Village Historical Society, combined her appreciation for history and art with delicious details from the lives of the nine women to make a delightful and informative evening at the Setauket Neighborhood House.

So who are those women?

Some of them we can tick off readily: Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan. Others are shrouded in more distant history. They are the wives of Presidents Monroe, Van Buren, Tyler, Cleveland and Fillmore.

Here is an example of one of Kaplan’s anecdotes about these women. Elizabeth Monroe, born of an aristocratic Loyalist family in 1768, who disregarded the disapproval of her father to go ahead and marry the patriot James Monroe, is generally credited with saving the life of Madame de Lafayette. The wife of the French hero of the American Revolution was incarcerated as a result of her aristocratic heritage during the Reign of Terror and about to be guillotined, as had been her grandmother, mother and sister before her. At the time, Monroe was the ambassador to France, but was unable to officially intercede. Elizabeth Monroe, not bound by diplomatic constraints, acted on her own and publicly went to visit Mme. Lafayette in prison, promising to return each day. Not wanting an appearance of conflict with America, the French authorities released Mme. Lafayette the next day.

When Monroe became president, did the American public appreciate his wife? They did not, as Kaplan reported. She was far too elegant and aristocratic for American tastes.

Tyler’s wife, Julia Gardiner, born on Gardiner’s Island, was known a bit infamously as the “rose of Long Island” and was called “madam presidentress,” the term “first lady” not having been coined until much later. Gardiner was Tyler’s second wife, and she attracted a lot of attention by being the first to marry a sitting president and for being 30 years younger than him. Tyler’s eldest daughter was five years older than her stepmother.

And so the stories unfolded, Kaplan keeping her audience totally engaged for well over an hour. Martin Van Buren, the first president to be born after American independence, and the only president to speak English as a second language, married his childhood sweetheart, Hannah Hoes. She spoke Dutch at home with her husband and was his first cousin once removed. Millard Fillmore married Abigail Powers, a schoolteacher. Both were upstate New Yorkers.

Grover Cleveland, who served two terms, but not consecutively, married Frances Folsom, a woman 22 years younger. A bachelor when he entered office, he married the daughter of a close friend. He had looked after her as executor of his friend, Oscar Folsom’s, estate and simply waited until she was old enough before they married. At 21, Frances was the youngest first lady, and she was well-liked. She is appreciated for having started kindergarten in schools.

The other first ladies are well known to us. Eleanor Roosevelt is credited as the most influential and active first lady in our history. The longest-serving first lady, as wife of four-term president Franklin Roosevelt, she went on to a public life of her own. Jackie Kennedy became an American idol and is known for her cultural efforts and redecorating the White House. Barbara Bush, with her forthright style, her constant loyalty and support of her family, and refusal to dye her hair when her husband became president, was always a more popular figure than he. And Nancy Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s second wife, was a diminutive and elegant first lady whose life was dedicated to protecting her husband after the assassination attempt that wounded him and his press secretary.

They are fascinating women and we can claim them as our own.