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WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) will host a walking tour, “Anchors Away!,” on Tuesday June 13 at 4 p.m. and on Wednesday,  June 14 at 10 a.m.

Explore the nautical side of Stony Brook Village’s history with brand new stories during this hour long tour. Investigate the  suspicious death of Commander Charles C. Hall, learn about the Polaris Expedition disaster, hear the tales of the Hercules figurehead’s world-wide journeys, get the full scoop on the Smiths of Stony Brook and more.

Tours leave from the Stony Brook Grist Mill, 100 Harbor Road, Stony Brook. Rain date is June 20. $15 per person. To reserve your spot, call 631-751-2244.  

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) recently announced the creation of the WMHO West Meadow Field Guide and GCIS Survey. Working hand-in-hand, these creations will allow the public to identify and record environmental and ecological data.

Using the field guide to identify plants and animal species within the preserve, the public can store species and water quality data on the GCIS Survey webpage. The survey will be available soon on the WMHO website (WMHO.org). During preliminary testing, Ms. Megan Frey of the Frey Family Foundation found and recorded calanoid, a microscopic arthropod, within her first sample of wetlands water.

The announcement at the WMHO’s Earth Day event —Wetlands Legacies — at the Dr. Erwin Ernst Marine Conservation Center at West Meadow Creek Preserve on April 22. 

The event included guest speakers Megan Frey and Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolution Dr. Jeffrey Levinton, as well as a specially created drone video of the wetlands habitats by Nathan Levinton. The WMHO Youth Corps led exhibits that educated the public on water quality testing, the species of the area, the expeditions and life of world-renowned naturalist and ornithologist Dr. Robert Cushman Murphy, as well as the environmental challenges of WMHO’s pristine 88-acre wetlands preserve. Murphy, along with Dr. Erwin Ernst and Ward Melville, worked together in 1960 to create the West Meadow Creek Preserve.

Elected officials in attendance included former New York State Assemblyman, Steve Englebright,  Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, who spoke about the various aspects of Long Island’s ecology and environments, as well as Dr. Murphy’s role in protecting them.  

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 event will feature a petting zoo. Photo from WMHO

Do you have a case of spring fever? April is blooming with lots of outside events on the North Shore including The Ward Melville Heritage Organization and Stony Brook Village’s free Spring Appreciation Day which returns on Sunday, April 16 to Stony Brook Village with live music, a car show, a petting zoo and scavenger hunts with prizes from noon to 3 p.m. 

Rocking Horse Farms will be set up in front of the Rustic Loft with a variety of animals for children to pet. The Mustang and Shelby Club of Long Island car show will take place between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the parking lot behind the Post Office with classic Mustangs and the latest Pony cars that Ford has to offer. Automobiles from 1964 to 2022 will be on display, including some special edition Mustangs like the classic Shelby GT500, GT350 and the iconic Boss 302. 

Brenda and Burke will be performing original and cover songs in the genres of R&B, Roots, Blues and Contemporary Acoustic on the steps of the Stony Brook Post Office and The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO)’s Youth Corps will be offering scavenger hunts around Stony Brook Village. Each person to return a completed scavenger hunt will be entered into a raffle to win Discovery Wetlands Cruise tickets. 

Lastly, the Stony Brook Grist Mill (c. 1751) 100 Harbor Road, Stony Brook will be open for tours ($4 for adults, $2 for children, cash only) of the inner mechanical workings and history of the building and shopping in the Country Store from 1 to 4 p.m.

Spring Appreciation Day is sponsored by Goldfish Swim School and Suffolk Speech. For more information, call 631-751-2244.

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.

Unveiling of the Jennie Melville garden. Photo from WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) has announced that the garden on the Jennie Melville Village Green in Stony Brook Village has been unveiled, thanks to PSEG Long Island and the Three Village Chamber of Commerce. The garden was originally planted in honor of Jennie Melville in 1948 by the Three Village Garden Club, which she founded. The Three Village Chamber of Commerce was the recipient of a $2,300 Beautification Grant funded by PSEG Long Island. The Chamber selected the Jennie Melville Village Green garden to receive a restoration including various plants, shrubs and flowers.

“PSEG Long Island is pleased to support the efforts of Three Village Chamber of Commerce to create this lovely garden in its shopping district,” said John Keating, manager of Economic and Community Development at PSEG Long Island. “The PSEG Long Island Beautification grant was crafted to help local businesses in downtowns and shopping areas that struggled through the pandemic. We are proud to fund this project that will help increase foot traffic to the area and enhance the shopping experience for everyone who visits.”

Pictured from left,  Jonathan Kornreich, Town of Brookhaven Councilmemeber; Mary Van Tuyl, Trustee, WMHO; Michael Ardolino, Board Member, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Jane Taylor, Executive Director, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Bill Faulk, Regional Public Affairs Manager, PSEG Long Island; John Keating, Manager of Economic and Community Development, PSEG Long Island; Dr. Richard Rugen, Chairman, WMHO; Charles Lefkowitz, President, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Gloria Rocchio, President, WMHO; Carmine Inserra, Board Member, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Nicole Sarno, Board Member, Three Village Chamber of Commerce; Kathleen Mich, WMHO Trustee; and Charles Napoli, Trustee, WMHO.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation founded in 1939 by businessman and philanthropist Ward Melville. Inspired by his legacy to preserve historic and environmentally sensitive properties, the WMHO continues to protect and interpret these Long Island treasures. The organization creates interdisciplinary educational and cultural experiences that integrate history, art, theater, music, science, and technology for all ages. The organization owns and manages properties deeded to it by Ward Melville, including the Brewster House (c. 1665), the Thompson House (c. 1709), the Stony Brook Grist Mill (c.1751), which are listed on the state and national register for historic places, the Dr. Erwin Ernst Marine Conservation Center, the pristine 88-acre wetlands preserve at West Meadow, the 11-acre T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond and adjacent park, two-acre Upper Pond, and the two-acre Jennie Melville Village Green. To learn more about the WMHO, visit www.wmho.org or call (631) 751-2244

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.

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.

Photo from WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) hosted its second Long Island Sound Connections Summit in the first week of June. This virtual, hands-on collaborative learning program connects students across Long Island Sound and allows them to conduct their own experiments to better understand the water systems in their environment.

Long Island Sound Connections is the first program to connect both shores with students from New York and Connecticut – With virtual class check-ins, “summits” where students present their findings, and an ongoing collection of data and that information’s analysis. The Long Island Sound Connections program was designed to help students learn about the Long Island Sound and to inspire them to protect their environment. The program is offered via distance learning from the WMHO’s Erwin J. Ernst Marine Conservation Center (EMCC), students have front row seats to one of the most pristine natural resources in the Northern Hemisphere.

WMHO collaborated with University of Stony Brook Professor Jeffrey Levinton of the Ecology and Evolution Department to develop a system of data collection parameters for monitoring West Meadow Creek’s water quality and species counts. Professor Levinton will continue to support WMHO in developing this multipronged project that seeks to educate the public while providing data representing the creek’s health over time to the public and researchers.

Students performed their own experiments and led their own research on the topics of water salinization, acidity and quality, and human impact on the environment. Students also compared and contrasted their two environments (suburban and urban), and presented it to their partner class. The research collected from both sides of the Long Island Sound has been entered in WHMO’s software. Each season additional data will be added to it to create a map to assist researchers of all ages to understand the similarities and differences and track changes over time.

The second “Summit” of classes in this program was between Michelle Millers’ 6th Grade Science Class from Middle Country School District in Selden, New York, and Victoria Soltis and Angelica Lawrence’s 6th Grade Science from Edison Elementary School in Bridgeport, who worked in collaboration with Mill River Wetland Committee. With grants provided by the Fullwood Foundation, the Frey Family Foundation and Webster Bank, this program was offered to participating classes free of charge. All costs associated with the program were sponsored by these organizations.

Pictured from left are Megan Frey, Frey Family Foundation; Max Frey; Deborah Boudreau, Education Director, WMHO; Gloria Rocchio, President, WMHO; New York State Senator Mario R. Mattera, 2nd Senate District; Dr. Richard Rugen, Chairman, WMHO; Kathleen Mich, Trustee, WMHO. Not shown, Nicole Sarno, Business Manager, Webster Bank and Dr. Robert Parker, The Fullwood Foundation.

For more information about the WMHO, on the Long Island Sound Connection program, other historic, environmental and scientific programs that the WMHO offers, please call 631-751-2244 or visit wmho.org.