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.
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.”