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Ward Melville Heritage Organization

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 Hercules Pavilion in Stony Brook. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) has announced their next walking tour – “Winter Secrets”, on Wednesday, December 14 at 10:30 a.m.

As participants stroll the walkways of Stony Brook Village with a toasty cup of hot chocolate from Stony Brook Chocolate, they will hear about Stony Brook residents, artifacts and the holiday spirit. Stories include gilded age socialite Alida Emmet’s holiday parties, the year Dorothy Melville saved the holidays, arctic fever and the Polaris whaleboat, finding joy during the holiday season (and beyond) during the Great Depression, and more!

Rain date is Thursday, December 15 at the same time. Reservations required. $15 per person, includes hot chocolate and a complimentary glass of wine with the purchase of an entrée at Mirabelle Restaurant & Tavern at the Three Village Inn. To reserve your spot on the tour and to learn more about the WMHO, call 631-751-2244.

Stony Brook Grist Mill. Image from WMHO

Didn’t have a chance to tour the Stony Brook Grist Mill this season? You’re in luck! The mill’s season has been extended for one more day!

Tour the Stony Brook Grist Mill, circa 1751, 100 Harbor Road, Stony Brook this Sunday, Nov. 6, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m before it closes for the winter.

Long Island’s most completely equipped working mill, it is listed on the National and New York State Register of Historic Places. Visit the Country Store and watch the miller grind grain into flour just as it was done during the Revolutionary War.

Tickets for the tour are $4 for adults and $2 for children. Cash only.  For additional info, call 631-751-2244.

Photo from WMHO

Black Friday returns to Stony Brook Village Center on Friday, November 25. Shop Black Friday deals all day long throughout the village, with carolers, live music, and a petting zoo from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., as well as the opening of the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Enjoy carolers throughout the day.

Rocking Horse Farms will be set up in front of the Rustic Loft with a variety of animals for children to pet.  Burke and Brenda will be performing original and cover songs in the genres of R&B, Roots, Blues and Contemporary Acoustic at the Stony Brook Post Office. The Celestial Holiday Carolers will be performing holiday music throughout Market Square (shops between Luca Modern Italian Restaurant and Harbor Cleaners). Black Friday deals will be available all throughout the open-air center. A full list of Black Friday deals and sales will be available online at stonybrookvillage.com mid-November.

The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame will be open to the public. The upstairs exhibit space will feature a permanent “Hall of Fame” with plaques and exhibits recognizing the over 100 and growing inductees. The main exhibit space will be the first rotating exhibit “Long Island’s Legendary Club Scene: 1960’s – 1980’s”.

Black Friday in Stony Brook Village is sponsored by News 12. For more information on Black Friday in Stony Brook Village, visit stonybrookvillage.com or call (631) 751-2244.

Photo by Heidi Sutton

TIME TO VOTE!

Voting for the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s 32nd annual Scarecrow Competition has begun! Visit the scarecrows at the Stony Brook Village Center and vote for your favorites with a ballot from any shop through Oct. 26. The winners will be announced at the WMHO’s Halloween Festival on Oct. 31.   Photo by Heidi Sutto

Send your Photo of the Week to [email protected]

 

WMHO unveils a sensory garden in Stony Brook Village on Sept. 23. Photo from WMHO
Project at Stony Brook Mill Pond Park supported by PSEG Long Island

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) has announced that the newly restored Sensory Garden at the T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park has officially been planted, thanks to a sponsorship of $3,500 from PSEG Long Island. An official  unveiling was held on Sept. 23.

The Sensory Garden was originally created as a place where those who are sensory-impaired could enhance their independence and interact with nature in a special way, over ten years ago. David Seyfert, a Stony Brook resident, visual teacher and mobility instructor assisted in the selection of plants and suggested wind chimes to ensure all visitors could enjoy the park. 

Among the many plants incorporated into the sensory garden are lambs ear and wooly thyme for its texture; lavender, hydrangea and dogwood for its smell; and pink muhly grass, Japanese maple and a collection of hen and chicks for sound.

“Originally, the sensory garden began small — a residential visually impaired woman would come here to smell the flowers, listen to the birds, and sit in peace. Over the years, especially the last few during the pandemic, this park and garden have given that same peace of mind to all of its visitors,” said Dr. Richard Rugen, Chairman of the WMHO.

“Thanks to PSEG-LI and the PSEG Foundation, our newly enhanced Sensory Garden can continue to be a place where everyone come to relax, enjoy and find peace. Tropical Storm Isaias caused incredible damage throughout the park in August of 2020. The first phase of restoration was completed in October of 2021. This marks the completion of phase two of the park’s restoration,” said Rugen.

To learn more about the WMHO, visit www.wmho.org or call 631-751-2244.

Stony Brook Grist Mill. Image from WMHO

Join the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) in a new walking tour experience, Unwind & Uncork History: The Story of Wine & the Stony Brook Grist Mill on Friday, September 30 at 11 a.m. (3 p.m. tour is sold out!)

The Stony Brook Grist Mill. Photo from WMHO

In this walking tour experience, tour-goers will “uncork” the stories of the Stony Brook Grist Mill (c. 1751), the sight of Long Island’s very first vineyard. This will include a tour of the Stony Brook Grist Mill, the scandalous story of Edward Kane, his Lakeside Wine Company, and a brief lesson on wine. 

The tour will begin at Tranquility Park (also known as T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park) across from the Stony Brook Grist Mill, and will end at Lake Side Emotions Wine Boutique at the Stony Brook Village Center, which gained its name from Kane’s Lakeside Wine Company.

Fee for the tour  is $25 per person and includes a bottle of authentic Catawba wine from Lake Side Emotions Wine Boutique. All participants must be 21 or older. Advance registration is required by calling 631-751-2244. For more information, visit www.wmho.org.

'Right and Left' by William Sidney Mount (1850)

By Tara Mae

Idyllic, intimate scenes of small town life and sublimely serene landscapes. Warmly illuminated faces, too often absent in American fine art, immortalized for generations. William Sidney Mount’s art both embraced and defied the standards of the 19th century. 

Through this prism, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) will present a special program titled “William Sidney Mount and Long Island’s Free People of Color” at the Brewster House (c. 1665) in Setauket on Saturday, Sept. 24.

The cover of Katherine Kirkpatrick and Vivian Nicholson-Mueller’s new book.

The talk by Katherine Kirkpatrick and Vivian Nicholson-Mueller, co-authors of The Art of William Sidney Mount: Long Island People of Color on Canvas, will explore the identities and lives of the 19th century Black, Native-Black and Black-White people who Mount portrayed in many of his works as well as their ties to the Three Village community. 

During the presentation’s two sessions, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m., Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller will discuss researching and writing their book, which delves into some identities of Mount’s most notable subjects: people who are largely missing, erased, otherized, or caricatured in American art of the 1800s.

Each session will be followed by a Q&A segment, book signing, artwork presentation, and tour of the Brewster house. 

“[Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller] put forward research that makes you want to ask more questions and think about who these people were…What were their lives like? Who were the other people that lived here? What were their relationships like?” said WMHO’s President Gloria Rocchio.

The event will be held at the historic Brewster House in Setauket, which Mount painted in ‘Long Island Farmhouses’ (see cover photo)

Among the individuals that the book and presentations will highlight are Henry Brazier, the left-handed fiddler in Right and Left (a portrait that is a stark departure from the racist caricatures of Black fiddlers typical of the time); George Freeman, the lively musician in The Banjo Player; Robbin Mills, the attentive outside audience in The Power of Music; and, Rachel (who’s last name will be discussed at the presentation), the poised fisherwoman in Eel Spearing in Setauket. 

Mount’s portrayal of these people is noteworthy in its normalcy. Rather than racist caricatures, at the time a prevalent American representation of any nonwhite person, he painted people as they were: members of the local community. 

So it is arguably a bit jarring to learn that, despite what much of his art might imply, Mount was not a abolitionist, an incongruous revelation that Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller address in the book and will acknowledge in the talks.  

“Mount was a complex man,” Kirkpatrick said. Despite the multitudes he contained, Mount’s artistic aims appear simpler: inspired by historical paintings he admired, Mount painted what he knew. 

‘Long Island Farmhouses’ by William Sidney Mount (1862-63)

And, Mount knew Long Island, particularly the Brewster house, which is now owned by WMHO and was restored in 1968 to appear as it did in his painting Long Island Farmhouses which is now hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mount even parked his mobile studio on the Brewster property while painting other farmhouses.  

Beyond his appreciation for the landscape, Mount was also acquainted with the Brewster house’s inhabitants. George Freeman of The Banjo Player and Rachel, of Eel Spearing in Setauket, who may have been a Brewster, were just two residents that Mount painted, according to Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller. 

While some structures featured in his landscapes, like the Brewster House, have had both their facades and histories preserved, not much has been cohesively published about the people who populated his paintings, many of whom were friends, neighbors, and townspeople. 

‘The Power of Music’
by William Sidney Mount, 1847

Rocchio sees “Color and Canvas…” as a way of correcting the apparent information vacuum. “I am looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to learning more about who lived and worked in the Brewster House…Any time we can bring out new information about the properties that we own, we are incredibly interested in the projects,” Rocchio said. 

It was such a search for knowledge that first drew educator and genealogist Nicholson-Mueller to the project. While on a quest for genealogical discovery, she learned that she is probably a descendant of Mount, the Brewsters, and many of the people he captured on canvas, including Mills, of The Power of Music. 

Having already bonded over a shared loved of history after meeting at the home of a mutual friend, she teamed up with Kirkpatrick, a historical fiction and nonfiction author, who grew up in Stony Brook. 

‘The Banjo Player’ by William Sidney Mount (1856)

“The research was a gift to myself; and it is Vivian’s and my gift to the people of the Three Villages, St. James and Smithtown. The details we put together will broaden people’s perspectives and knowledge of familiar places,” Kirkpatrick said. 

Each woman already had connections to the WMHO and were looking to work on a project together. Kirkpatrick is the author of Redcoats and Petticoats, a children’s book told through a young boy’s perspective about the British occupation of Long Island during the American Revolution and the Culper Spy Ring. Research and other projects have put her in contact with the WMHO over the years. 

Nicholson-Mueller has worked as a volunteer docent for the WMHO at the Thompson House, another historic property it owns. She has also conducted research on the Brewsters and Thompsons.

So, history is both a personal interest and professional passion for Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller. “Color on Canvas…” is a continuation of their efforts to make the past come alive for modern audiences by broadening the palette of people’s understanding.  

“I am hoping that people learn about Mount as an individual; about the lives and history of the people of color who lived in Brookhaven during this period and have heretofore been neglected or ignored,” Nicholson-Mueller said. 

Tickets to “William Sidney Mount and Long Island’s Free People of Color” at the Brewster House are $8 per person; space is limited and anyone interested in attending must register in advance by calling 631-751-2244. 

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There will two additional local events to celebrate the book launch of The Art of William Sidney Mount: Long Island People of Color on Canvas: 

On Sunday, October 2nd, the Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A; Stony Brook, will host an Author’s Talk on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. It will include a presentation by Kirkpatrick and Nicholson-Mueller as well as a book signing, banjo and fiddle music, refreshments and a gallery tour, where The Banjo Player and Right and Left will be on display. Fee is price of admission. Visit wwwl.longislandmuseum.org.

On Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m., the Three Village Historical Society will host a Zoom lecture with the authors. The event is free for TVHS members, with a $5 suggested donation for nonmembers. Registration is through www.tvhs.org/lecture-series. For more information, call 631-751-3730.

Photo from WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) recently announced an extension to their annual Summer Concert Series on the Village Green. In addition to the Aug. 21 concert featuring  Just Sixties, a tribute band that plays hits from the 1960’s, an additional concert has been added featuring the Sound Symphony on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. This is a free concert sponsored by the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF). Ernie Canadeo, LIMEHOF Chairman, will make exciting announcements about the Hall of Fame and the red carpet grand opening in November.

The Sound Symphony, an orchestra comprising of about 50 pieces, will perform a combination of light classical songs, movie themes and Broadway tunes. Additionally, a vocalist will performs opera songs. The Sound Symphony was created in 1984 by Long Island musicians for Long Island communities.

LIMEHOF’s first physical facility is anticipated to open in November of 2022 at the WMHO’s Educational and Cultural Center (ECC). The ECC was designed for interactive programs and events; such as performances, exhibits and classes. In fact, the Great Room on the first floor has 28-foot ceilings.   There will be a permanent “Hall of Fame” with plaques and exhibits recognizing the over 100 and growing inductees, as well as areas for a library, classrooms for educational programs and master classes, and a theater.  The main exhibit space will contain a rotating exhibit theme, and the layout and first exhibit, “Long Island’s Legendary Club Scene: 1960’s to 1980’s” is currently being designed by world-renowned visual designer Kevin O’Callaghan.

The Summer Concert Series will take place in front of the Stony Brook Post Office in Stony Brook Village, located at 129 Main Street in Stony Brook. In the case of rain, the concerts will be cancelled. This year’s concerts are made possible by the following sponsors: the Tantillo Auto Group, Chevrolet of Smithtown, Realty Connect USA, Team Ardolino and Realty Three LLC.  For more information on the Summer Concert Series, call the WMHO at (631) 751-2244. For more information on LIMEHOF, visit their website here.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will be hosting seven Pop-Up Saturdays at the Stony Brook Village Center, 111 Main St., Stony Brook on Saturdays from July 9 to Aug. 20, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  This family friendly summer series will be filled with animals, magic, music, art and even Tai Chi. 

Pop-Up Saturdays are free to the public and except where noted, will take place in Stony Brook Village Center’s Inner Court (by the Rustic Loft and Crazy Beans). Rain dates are the following day. The events are sponsored by Edward Jones located at 97 Main Street in Stony Brook Village. 

On July 9, experience the Magic of Amore from 2 to 3 p.m., and meet kittens and cats from North Fork Country Kids Rescue Vixen from 2 to 4 p.m.

On July 16, Sweetbriar Nature Center of Smithtown will bring birds of prey and touchable animals from  2 to 3 p.m. and Silent Mind Tai Chi from 3 to 4 p.m. 

On July 23, Brenda and Burke will be performing original and cover songs in the genres of R&B, Roots, Blues and Contemporary Acoustic from 2 to 4 p.m. in front of the Stony Brook Post Office, and Silent Mind Tai Chi returns from 3 to 4 p.m. 

On July 30, Caricature artist Marty Macaluso (no rain date) will visit the village and draw caricatures of individuals and groups from 2 to 4 p.m. Silent Mind Tai Chi will also take place from 3 to 4 p.m.

On August 6, Sweetbriar Nature Center returns with birds of prey and animals to touch from 2  to 4 p.m., as well as Silent Mind Tai Chi from 3 to 4 p.m.

On August 13, enjoy storytelling and singing by Johnny Cuomo from 2 to 3 p.m. and enjoy the music of Burke and Brenda at the Stony Brook Post Office from 2pm to 4pm.

On August 20, the last pop-up Saturday, Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center will visit the center with adoptable dogs from 2 to 4 p.m. and the last Silent Mind Tai Chi class will take place from 3 to 4 p.m.

To learn more about Pop-Up Saturdays and the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, call 631-751-2244.