Nassau County Historical Society

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The Last Word, 2012

The Historical Society elected two new trustees at its Annual Meeting in October. Betsey Murphy of Manhasset is the local history librarian at the Jericho Public Library and Richard Althaus of Hicksville is president of the Hicksville Gregory Museum, past president of the Hicksville Historical Society, and on the staff of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. The incumbent trustees in the Class of 2012 were re-elected to five-year terms: Scott Fairgrieve, James M. McKenna, and Gerald Rugg. Shirley Romaine presented the program, "That Place, Those Times: Long Island Voices" at the meeting following a luncheon at the Cherry Valley Club in Garden City.

Margaret Webster has resigned as a trustee after thirteen years of service. She has served as Membership Chair for many years and also chaired the annual dinner. We will miss her contributions to the Board, but she remains a life member of the Society.

Our members enjoyed a variety of topics at our meetings this year. Record numbers attended our January program at the Webb Institute in Glen Cove (the former estate of Herbert L. Pratt) to hear Richard Harris speak on "Mr. William H. Webb & the Webb Institute" and to see the mansion. Our other meetings in 2012 are listed inside the front cover, together with the programs that have been scheduled thus far for 2013.

This year's Journal features several topics. Generations of Nassau County residents fondly remember riding Nunley's Carousel in Baldwin. For its one hundredth anniversary, Edward J. Smits recounts the history of the carousel, which he participated in saving when he was Director of the Nassau County Museum and with the Museums at Mitchel (see "Notes on Contributors" on p. 11). In June 2010, the Historical Society met at the restored carousel and enjoyed the beautiful paintings of many Nassau County historic sites while riding the carousel.

My "Women in Long Island's Past: Philanthropists and Humanitarians," is a chapter from a recently published book on women who have been nearly invisible in Long Island histories. Richard Winsche's article, "The Ku Klux Klan in Nassau County in the l920s" discusses a largely forgotten aspect of our history. Finally, we are repeating "Automobile Tours of Central Nassau County in the Late l930s," another segment from the 1940 New York State WPA Writers' Guide.

We have two corrections for the article, "John Evers, Painter of Hempstead, Long Island," which was in the 2011 Journal (vol. 66) Fig. 3 (no. 10) on p. 6 was identified as "probably in Hempstead or vicinty," but Robert Rushmore later concluded that the location is unknown, but that it is not Hempstead or vicinity. More likely it is on Long Island's North Shore, or possibly in the Hudson Valley. In the caption for Fig. 2 on p. 4, NCHS member Paul W. Hoffman noted that the building identfied as "Kreischer's Hotel" was Hewlett's Hotel at the time of Evers' painting in 1869. The hotel was acquired by Stephen Kreischer in 1903 who operated it into the 1920s. (Kreisher was Hoffman's great-grandmother's younger brother.) We appreciate these corrections.

Mildred Roessler, a long-time trustee of the Society, died on June 29, 2012. She had retired from the Board on 2008, after more than a quarter century of service. Our condolences to her husband, Frank.

Historical News and Notes

Superstorm Sandy on October 29, 2012 will surpass in history the hurricane of 1938 for its impact on Long Island, particularly for Nassau County. Nearly 90 percent of LIPA customers endured power outages, many for more than a week, the LIRR suspended tram service for days, and flooding was extensive with wide-ranging destruction, especially in coastal areas. The high winds felled thousands of trees. More than two thousand homes were destroyed and many thousands more severely flooded or damaged. Areas that suffered extensive property devastation from storm surges included the Rockaways, Long Beach, Island Park, Freeport, and Fire Island.

New York State and Donald Trump cancelled plans for the "Trump on the Ocean" restaurant and catering hall at Jones Beach because of the flooding and damage to the area in superstorm Sandy. The site has been vacant since the Boardwalk Restaurant was demolished in 2004. Future plans are uncertain.

Robert B. MacKay, Director of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, has announced that he will retire in 2013. He has headed SPLIA for forty of its sixty-five years. SPLIA has been Long Island's premier organization for historic preservation. When Dr. MacKay received an Excellence in Preservation Award from the Preservation League of New York State in 2009, he was cited for "his preservation advocacy and generous advice to municipalities, communities, individual homeowners, and museums" and for working "creatively and effectively for the region's cultural heritage." In addition to curating exhibitions and spearheading books and catalogues published by SPLIA, he is author or co-author of several books including Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860-1940 (1997), America By the Yard: Cirkut Camera Images from the Early 20th Century (2000), and Between Ocean and Empire: An Illustrated History of Long Island (l985, reprinted 2000).

Long Island at Work and at Play: Early 20th-Century Photographs from SPLIA's Collections, opened in December and is the first exhibit in the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities new Gallery in the Old Methodist Church (l6l Main Street, Cold Spring Harbor). Open Thursday - Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through January, thereafter by appointment until warmer weather when regular hours will resume (63l-692-4664).

The Suffolk County Historical Society's exhibit, Currier & Ives: Printmakers to the American People, features more than 275 hand-colored lithographs. Many of the prints depict Long Island scenes. The exhibit has been extended through June l, 2013 at 300 West Main Street, Riverhead (63l-727-2881).

The Town of Oyster Bay designated the Maine Maid Inn a town landmark in May 2012. The building dates to 1789 and is believed to have connections with the Underground Railroad in the nineteenth century. The restaurant has been closed for several years and its future is uncertain, though landmark status means it cannot be demolished without town approval.

The Knollwood Gates on Route 106 at the Muttontown Preserve have been restored in a partnership between the Hoffman Foundation and the Village of Muttontown.

Hofstra student Adam Sackowitz has spurred efforts to have the Charles Lindbergh monument in the bankrupt Source mall (at the SE corner of the former Fortunoff parking garage) landmarked to ensure it will continue to mark the location where the Spirit of St. Louis took off in 1927. The historic marker New York State had erected on 1936 on Merrick Avenue was in storage for many years, but is now erected near the NE corner of the main parking lot of the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Mitchel Field in East Garden City.

The Jesuits announced they will close their St. Ignatius Retreat House in June 2013. The 87-room Tudor-style house on Searingtown Road in North Hills is on the market and its future uncertain. NCHS had a tour of this house, the former Nicholas Brady estate, "Inisfada," in May 1995.

The North Shore Historical Museum, located in a restored 1907 courthouse at 140 Glen Street in Glen Cove, officially opens January 19, 2013.

Historian Vincent F. Seyfried died in April 2012, a few days short of his 94th birthday. He had taught high school English in Queens, but lived for more than four decades in Garden City where he was the village historian. Seyfried wrote many books and articles on the history of Queens and the Long Island Rail Road. He was a member of the NCHS, published articles in this Journal, and spoke at our meeting in December 1994 on the Stewarts of Garden City. See Jeffrey A. Kroessler, "Who Has Done More" Vincent Seyfried and the Discovery of Queens History," Long Island Historical Journal 10 (Fall 1997): 79-85 (available in libraries and on the internet). His papers are in Special Collections in the Stony Brook University Library.

Natalie A. Naylor

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