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Stony Brook Post Office

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) recently announced the successful restoration of the iconic Stony Brook Eagle, a beloved landmark perched atop the historic Stony Brook Post Office. After 83 years of service, the eagle has been meticulously restored thanks to the unwavering support of local and dedicated community members. The restoration was completed just in time for Memorial Day, allowing the patriotic eagle to be displayed for the holiday.

Built in 1940 and completed in 1941 by the visionary businessman and philanthropist Ward Melville, Stony Brook Village stands as a testament to his grand vision. Among the thirty-five buildings modified or relocated by Melville, the Post Office stands out with its remarkable 20-foot mechanical eagle, captivating generations of visitors with its lifelike movements. However, after so many years in service, the hand-carved wooden fixture was in need of restoration.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Englebright successfully secured a $125,000 grant to restore several of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s (WMHO) historic properties, including the eagle. To supplement the grant, WMHO launched a fundraising campaign. This campaign reached people through newsletters, social media, and word-of-mouth, drawing donations from a diverse group of supporters. Contributions came from former and current residents, locals from neighboring towns, and eagle enthusiasts from as far away as San Antonio, Texas. 

Olivia and Harlan Fischer, Branch Financial Services made a significant donation. Frederick, Jeannie, and Margeaux Ringwald, grandchildren of Friederich Wilhelm Ringwald, the man who carved the 20-foot eagle in the 1940s, also donated to the cause. The restoration, totaling $85,000, was fully funded by the donations specifically raised for the eagle.

Renowned for their expertise in historic restoration, Henry Restoration Ltd. of Nesconset was entrusted with the project. With a reputation built on prestigious projects like the Sheraton St. Regis Hotel and Trinity Church in New York City, the company commenced work on April 2nd, completing the project in less than seven weeks. WMHO worked closely with Timothy Henry, President of Henry Restoration Ltd. on the restoration.

Sidewalk bridging and scaffolding were constructed at the Post Office to facilitate the restoration work. Missing, loose, and broken parts, including the feet and arrowheads, were expertly restored or replaced. New stars, crafted from mahogany by Carl Reinke, Vice President of Henry Restoration Ltd., replaced the original Masonite stars. 

Enhancements included aluminum straps for wing stabilization and a new stainless-steel chain to replace a rusty steel one. The eagle has been reconnected to its internal clock mechanism, which remains in excellent working condition. This ensures it will continue to flap its wings every hour, on the hour, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, captivating onlookers for years to come.

This project stands as a testament to the community’s commitment to preserving its rich heritage and honoring the legacy of Ward Melville. WMHO has established a dedicated fund to support the eagle and its mechanisms moving forward. Checks can be made payable to the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, and can be sent to P.O. Box 572, Stony Brook, NY 11790. Your donation is tax-deductible.

The Stony Brook Post Office by Dino Rinaldi

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization has announced the in-person return of its annual fundraiser, the Summer Soirée. The event will be held on Thursday, June 22 at the newly renovated Three Village Inn in Stony Brook, “where it all began.”

The event will raise funds to support the restoration of the 20’ wooden eagle that is affixed to the pediment above the Stony Brook Post Office. This beloved local and national treasure has flapped its wings every hour on the hour for over 80 years.

Funds raised will also support two new engines for the Discovery Pontoon boat, digitizing Ward Melville’s archives, repairs to the roof at the Brewster House (c.1665), a new exhibit at the Thompson House (c.1709), as well as education programs. 

The benefit will honor community members Katharine Griffiths, Director of Avalon Park and Preserve; Olivia and Harlan Fischer; Sally Lynch, President of Old Field Farm Ltd.; Nicole Sarno, Business Managing Director, Business Banking, Webster Bank; and awarded posthumously, philanthropist Judi Betts. 

One of the highlights of the event will be a live auction where one of the many wonderful items will be a painting of the Stony Brook Post Office by Setauket artist Dino Rinaldi who has been working on creating this beautiful work of art on the Village Green over the last few weeks. 

The WMHO will take phone call bids for the painting from the public until 5 p.m. on June 21. Valued at $1,200, bids for the painting will begin at $400. The successful bidder of the painting will be announced on June 22 and will receive a phone call or email the following day. 

For further information, please call 631-751-2244.

The mechanical eagle above the Stony Brook Village post office. File photo/TBR News Media

Atop Stony Brook Village’s post office is the only mechanical eagle in the world that flaps its wings, every hour on the hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Although the eagles wings are still flapping after 82 years of service, the hand-carve wooden fixture is in need of restoration. Funds are being raised by the  501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation  Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) to help the eagle soar once more. 

Stony Brook Village was constructed in 1941 by businessman and philanthropist, Ward Melville. At his own expense, he relocated, demolished, or modified some thirty-five buildings in the downtown area. The enormous undertaking also included the rerouting of roads, the relocation of large trees, and moving one million cubic yards of dirt. Although the construction of the village was impressive, Ward Melville’s centerpiece gem was the 20’ mechanical Stony Brook Eagle.

For generations, visitors of Stony Brook Village have been awed by the eagle’s mechanical movements. Watching the wings of the eagle flap is a childhood memory thousands cherish. Since the inception of fundraising, donations to restore the eagle have come from all over the United States, from coast to coast.

Fundraising efforts by the WMHO include: The Summer Soirée, a fundraising gala with a cocktail hour, dinner and live auction at the historic Three Village Inn on Thursday, June 22, and an online auction beginning May 22, with exciting items such as a real military tank driving experience for 30 people in “The Scorpion” British armored reconnaissance vehicle, a suite for up to 22 people at the Total Mortgage Arena, and an all-inclusive stay for seven nights in a three room, five-star Panamanian boutique inn.

While the primary purpose of the fundraising is to support the restoration of the beloved eagle, any additional funds raised may also support two new engines for the WMHO’s Discovery Pontoon Boat, digitizing Ward Melville’s archives, repairs to the roof at the Brewster House (c. 1665), a new exhibit at the Thompson House (c. 1709) in Setauket, as well as education programs.

Donations are being accepted now. To help support the WMHO in its fundraising efforts, visit wmho.org or call 631-751-2244. Checks can be made payable to the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, and can be sent to P.O. Box 572, Stony Brook, NY 11790. Your donation is tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by the law.

The Stony Brook Post Office is one of the stops on the Stony Brook Village Audio Experience. Photo courtesy of Sean Mills

Stony Brook Village has announced that the Stony Brook Village Audio Experience is now available and can be enjoyed on your own time and at your own pace! The experience is free to the public and will allow all visitors of Stony Brook Village to immerse themselves in the quirky history and stories of the lifestyle center and some of its surrounding properties. The audio experience is obtained by scanning QR codes throughout the village and is also available at audio.stonybrookvillage.com.

Currently, the experience has ten stops, and covers the history and the stories from the Three Village Inn’s original residents to the entire development of Stony Brook Village Center. It is recommended that participants of the experience begin at the Three Village Inn. Additional stories about the Country House (c.1710), the Stony Brook Grist Mill (c.1751) — including the first vineyard on Long Island, and T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park will be added soon.

To learn more about events and activities in Stony Brook Village Center, visit stonybrookvillage.com.

Stony Brook Post Office

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will host a Holiday Secrets of Stony Brook Village Walking Tour on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 10:50 a.m. and again at 2:50 p.m.

Participants will experience the unheard stories of some of Stony Brook Village’s illustrious residents and customs through time. This includes “Astor Orphan” Alida Chanler Emmet and the extravagant parties that she hosted at her estate, the Mallows; the origins of the Stony Brook Village and its traditions of gift giving though the centuries; and the forgotten story of painter Ruth Hawkins Mount Seabury who was born on Christmas Day in 1808 and the only sister of the three Mount artists.

The holiday cheer can continue after the walking tour, as the Mirabelle Tavern at the Three Village Inn (c. 1751) and Pentimento Restaurant will be offering ticket holders drink or dessert specials with the purchase of food items.

Tours will leave from the Stony Brook Post Office, 111 Main St., Stony Brook. Tickets for this event are $15 per person and includes fresh hot chocolate from Stony Brook Chocolate Works. Reservations are required by calling 631-751-2244.