Three Village Community Trust preserves history with new interpretive signs

Three Village Community Trust preserves history with new interpretive signs

Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright and county Legislator Kara Hahn unveil the new sign. Photo by Robert Pellegrino

A sign featuring photos and a historical narrative now marks the spot of a local landmark.

Three Village Community Trust members celebrate the unveiling of the new sign at Patriots Rock. Phot by Rita J. Egan

Elected officials, members of the Three Village Historical Society and a handful of residents joined the Three Village Community Trust in the unveiling of its new interpretive sign at Patriots Rock. The trust has been working to install signs at its properties throughout the Three Village area.

The 18-inch-by-24-inch sign at Patriots Rock, across from the Setauket Post Office on Main Street, sits atop a small metal pedestal and provides information about the area’s local importance, including the spot being a Native American meeting place and the grounds of the Battle of Setauket. During the Revolutionary War, American Patriots used the rock as a base to launch an attack against British soldiers occupying Setauket Presbyterian Church.

Signs also are situated at the Smith/de Zafra House, Brookhaven’s original town hall, and the Factory Worker Houses. TVCT began the project a few years ago, and the trust’s president, Herb Mones, said the project was based on three ideas.

“One was our hope to educate and inform residents about the history, the architecture, the economy and the culture that existed in our ever-evolving community,” he said.

The president added the hope was also to show how unique the area was, and the signs demonstrated TVCT was an active organization.

At the unveiling, Mones thanked those who worked on the project, including Robert Reuter, Greg de Bruin, Norma Watson, Paul D’Amico, Peter Legakis and Gretchen Oldrin Mones. He added Three Village Historical Society historian Beverly C. Tyler and Town of Brookhaven historian Barbara Russell assisted in verifying the information, and Tammy Burkle of Studio 631 finalized the design of the plaques.

A county cultural grant obtained by Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and a matching-challenge state grant from Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) funded the project, according to Mones. He added Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) provided guidance during the process. All three were on hand for the unveiling.

Mones said the property once belonged to Tyler’s family, and when TVCT acquired the property the trust was able to do so with a grant through Englebright’s office.

Community members joined the Three Village Community Trust in the unveiling of a new sign at Patriots Rock. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Hahn said she often wonders what was going through the minds of the soldiers who hid behind Patriots Rock during the Battle of Setauket.

“[That kind of history] is why this community is so special — it’s that strong sense of place tied to the birth of this great nation. Helping to remind folks of the significance of this spot, and every other spot that we were able to place signs at, is important to educate about and honor the tradition and history here.” Hahn said.

Englebright, who is a geologist, said in addition to remembering the history of the site, he said, “I can’t help but get excited about it because it’s very geological.”

He said Patriots Rock is only one or two main rocks in the community, and “this is the one with the greatest significance.”

“The first thing we had to do was save it,” Englebright said. “The next thing we have to do is what we’re doing today, which is to make sure that it’s properly interpreted, and that it is accessing the public’s excitement about our history because the history of our community helps you find a sense of place — and our sense of place is integral to our quality of life and a sense of community pride.”