The Last Word, 2010
I am combining this year the traditional "President's Message" and the Editor’s "Last Word." The Historical Society held six general membership meetings. Topics for programs ranged from shipwrecks, North Fork painters, Long Island's pioneer women pilots, the rescue of Nunley's Carousel, and Hofstra's President John Cranford Adams. Our members also enjoyed an art and architecture tour of St. John's Lattingtown Church and rides on the Carousel. (These and future meetings are listed inside the front cover.)
At our annual meeting in October, James M. McKenna was elected to the Board of Trustees; he is Site Director and Curator of Old Bethpage Village Restoration. Jim reports that within the last two years, fifteen buildings at the Restoration received new roofs and ten were painted on the exterior.
We were saddened this year by the death of Samuel U. Mitchell, a past president and long-time trustee of the Society. This issue of the Journal begins with a Memorial to Sam by past president Denward W. Collins, Jr.
Our series of Stewart Donaldson's memoir of the Mackay Harbor Hill estate in Roslyn concludes in this issue. Myrna Sloam who edited the four articles adds an Epilogue. Robert Rushmore's meticulous research on the Sammis Inn in Hempstead tackles the question of its age and Sammis ownership. My article on the Roosevelts and Sagamore Hill commemorates the upcoming 150th anniversary of Edith Carow Roosevelt's birth. On the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the WPA, we are beginning to reprint the chapter on Long Island from its Writers' Project New York State Guide, which provides an overview of Long Island just before World War II. One of the progenitors of the WPA guidebooks was the Baedeker series of travel books; see "Baedeker’s Long Island, 1893" in the 2009 issue of this Journal (64:37-40)..
An equestrian statue Theodore Roosevelt—Rough Rider now greets those entering Oyster Bay. The memorial is a bronze casting from sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor’s original 1922 molds. The statue was dedicated in 2005 and rededicated in October 2010 after it was moved to the new Theodore Roosevelt Triangle at the junction of Lexington Avenue, Pine Hollow Road (Rt. 106), and Berry Hill Road. According to Elizabeth Roosevelt, TR was the last president to appear on an equestrian statue
In 2010, Theodore Roosevelt moved ahead of Lincoln to second place in Siena College's survey of more than two hundred presidential scholars. (TR had moved from fifth place in ranking of presidents in 1982 and 1990 to third place in the 1994 and 2002 polls.) FDR has been in first place in all five of the presidential rankings. Additional information is at www.siena.edu/sri; go to the archives, the presidential rankings were released July 1, 1910.
The Oyster Bay Historical Society (OBHS) celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2010 and said farewell to Tom Kuehhas, Executive Director of the Society for eighteen years who has relocated off island. Philip Blocklyn is the new Director. The OBHS expects to open its new Research and Collections Center in the spring of 2011.
Vincent F. Seyfried recently published his thirtieth volume of Long Island history, North Beach: Vanished Pleasureland of Queens, a lavishly illustrated 112-page, 8½ x 11 inch book. The amusement park was located where LaGuardia Airport is now situated. Seyfried is the pre-eminent historian of the Long Island Rail Road, Queens neighborhoods, and trolleys and traction companies. The North Beach book is available from the Greater Astoria Historical Society (718-278-0700 or email@example.com).
Since we plan to add images to our back cover, it is appropriate to describe the sites that have been on the front cover. Each of the five buildings is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Onderdonk House (1471 Northern Boulevard, Manhasset) is one of Long Island's finest examples of Greek revival architecture. It was built ca. 1836 by Horatio Gates Onderdonk, a local attorney and judge. Saved by the Levitts when they developed the Onderdonk farm in the mid-1930s, it is now maintained by the Strathmore Association, which uses it as a community center. St. George's Episcopal Church (319 Front Street, Hempstead) was built in 1822 and continues as a house of worship. Rock Hall (199 Broadway, Lawrence) was built ca. 1767 by Josiah Martin. The Hewlett family donated this Georgian manor house to the Town of Hempstead in 1948 and it has been open as a historic house museum for more than fifty years.
The Saddle Rock Grist Mill on Grist Mill Lane on the Great Neck peninsula was built in 1715. The tidal mill on Little Neck Bay is owned by Nassau County. The Underhill Monument was erected in 1907 in the Underhill Burying Ground on Factory Pond Road in Mill Neck. It marks the grave of Capt. John Underhill (1597-1672). Raynham Hall (20 West Main Street, Oyster Bay) was built ca. 1738 by Samuel Townsend, whose son Robert was involved in the Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War. Owned by the Town of North Hempstead, it is a historic house museum. Each of these sites is mentioned in the WPA's 1940 guidebook we are reprinting.
If you spend time in Florida, you should visit the Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park to see its extensive collection of Tiffany objects and architectural elements—many rescued from Laurelton Hall in Oyster Bay after it burned in 1957. The Museum is recreating Tiffany’s Daffodil Terrace in a new, 12,000-square-foot Tiffany wing scheduled to open in February 2011.
Natalie A. Naylor
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