ImageCheck out the accompanying podcast that goes with this artcile.  {enclose Show8.mp3}

Sunday April 18th, 2010, We depart for Huntington at 9:50AM.


 
 
 
ImageHistory and a challenge, I am always up for both. The idea is to get more people interested in local history, raise awareness and support for museums throughout the Town of Huntington. The event involves visiting 10 historical sites in 2 days. My wife Laura and my kid brother James were determined to complete this challenge with me.  Due to other responsibilities we had to up the challenge and complete the event in a mere day, only 5 hours.
 
 
ImageKnowing our time was short I looked up what sites are included the night before. The sites are all guaranteed to be open from 11AM to 4PM for challenge goers. Wanting to maximize our time we drove into town a half hour early. On the way we noticed many historical markers of places not even on the challenge. This town is bulging with history, and excitement was in the air.
Our first site of the day was the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Hoping that we could get a head start we tried the door to no avail. Deciding to walk into the Huntington Village Center we found a vintage luncheonette called Munday‌s.  Sounding like a good way to kill a half hour we entered. With tin ceiling tiles on the walls and a soda fountain atmosphere this place definitely fit in with the days upcoming activities.
Site #1 Soldiers and Sailors Monument, 5 hours remaining
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A section of shelving from the old library can be seen.
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A look inside the building when it was a library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a quick breakfast, we scuttled back to the Soldiers and Sailors monument to try the door again. This time it opened. Greeting us was a smiling face that handed us the treasure map of locations. Each location required the answering of a trivia question in order to get a stamp on the map. Get all 10 and a DVD is given as a grand prize. Ten dollars gets you admission to 10 locations and a DVD, what an amazing bargain! The Soldiers and Sailors monument used to be a public library. In fact, it still has a corner shelf with books on it. Now it is used as the town historian‌s office.
Site #2 Town Archives, 4:50 hours remaining

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Old Town Hall
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New Town Hall, used to be a high school.

The next location was the town archives, located in town hall. A short drive down the road and there we were, facing another locked door.  We circled the building by car but it all appeared closed. I was getting a little stressed, so Laura called the phone number for the event, located at the previous site. This number would prove invaluable for helping us finish. We were told to go through a glass corridor in the back of the building.
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Oldest document in archive, a land deed involving Mattincock Indians.
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Colonial court documents.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Once in the Lobby we were welcomed by the town archivist, and a librarian. We were taken to the basement where the town archives are stored. They normally don‌t give tours to the public, so this was a real treat. The town hall was moved to a former high school in the 1980s, to allow more room. The archivist pointed out that the archive rooms used to be the gym and the floor still showed the markings.
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Centuries ago each town clerk would fill a chest like this one with records.
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Now records are stored in a climate controlled room with rows of shelves like this one.

 
 
 
 
 
 
We were taken into a viewing room with documents on display. One was the oldest document in the collection, a 1667 copy of a 1663 land deed. It shows the purchase of Huntington from the Matincock Indians for 6 cottes, 6 kettles, 6 hatchets, 6 horses, 6 shirts, 6 fathom of wampum, 10 knives, 30 muxes, and 30 needles. Another set of documents were colonial era court records. One showed a man who was fined for traveling on the Sabbath, another of a lady whipped for thievery, and badmouthing.
Site #3 Huntington Arsenal, 3:45 hours remaining
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Our tour guide at the arsenal.
 
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James is learning how handle a musket.

 
 
 
 
 
 
From here we dashed down Park Ave to the Huntington Arsenal.  This small structure was originally a granary, but converted into a house by Job Sammis, a weaver.  Job allowed his house to be used as a rebel arsenal, prior to the British occupation of Long Island. After the occupation muskets wrapped in rags were hidden under the house. They were forgotten about until someone was restoring the foundation in the 1930‌s, and found the firearms.
Our tour guide, a nice elderly gentleman, told us Job was only allowed to weave fabric 36 inches wide. This way nothing significant could be manufactured.  The colonies were here to supply raw goods to Britain, which would be manufactured into products and sold back to the colonists at a great profit.  No wonder he loaned his house to the rebellion cause.
Site #4 Kissam House, 3:12 hours remaining
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The next stop was the Kissam house across the street. Its proximity was a bonus, as our time was withering.  Laura remembered that the Vanderbilt museum was the mansion of William KISSAM Vanderbilt, and wondered if there might be a link between the Kissam‌s and the famous Vanderbilts.  As it turns out she was correct. A son of patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt, William Henry Vanderbilt, married Maria Louise Kissam in 1841. A wall in an upstairs bedroom is dedicated to the marriage of these two great families.
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The house itself originally belonged to Dr. Daniel Whitehead Kissam. He used it not only as his dwelling but as an infirmary where he treated the ill, making it Huntington‌s first ‌hospital‌. There are many original relics in every room of the house.
Site #5 Northport Historical Society,  2:24 hours remaining
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The next stop we choose was one further away from the rest, the Northport Historical Society. Like our first stop, this building too was the originally a library. Inside is a treasure trove of exhibits depicting Northport‌s history.  We had to look around the museum for the trivia question. How many people voted for the village‌s incorporation‌ Almost half our time had already past so we needed to stay focused.  I regret that I didn‌t have time to study the exhibits, especially those from Northport‌s shipbuilding days and a dollhouse, with intense detail. The dollhouse was constructed by society members, and depicts a local Victorian home.
Site #6 Lloyd Manor House, 1:38 hours remaining
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We decided to hit the site at the extreme other end of town, to allow time for lunch while rolling. Laura had the foresight to make sandwiches.  We pulled up to the Henry Lloyd Manor House around a half past 3. Half the sites were complete and half the time spent, this was going to be a challenge.
 
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Found in the walls. Left is rodents nest containg papers.
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Items found around the property.

 
 
 
 
 
 
On the grand tour of the Lloyd house we learned that Henry Lloyd was a wealthy merchant. He had slaves and one of them was educated in a schoolhouse he built for his children. That slave was Jupiter Hammond and he became the first published African American Poet.
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Fireplace with delft tiles, a sign of wealth.
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Corn cobs in between bricks in the walls.

 
 
 
 
 
 
A fireplace features delft tiles made in Holland, a sign of wealth. Another display shows rodent nests found in the walls. This is interesting because the nests were constructed partly of bits of paper from throughout the house‌s two and a half century history.
 Site #7 Whaling Museum, 1:02 hours remaining
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Our next stop was the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling museum. Again due to time constraints we had to rush through the exhibits to find the answer to our trivia question. We did find time to chat with a volunteer who published a book, Candlesticks & Corset Stays: Long Island‌s Yankee Whalers. He was gracious enough to sign a copy we purchased. Leaving was difficult, as there was a concert of sea chantries being performed by musicians in period garb. We were all drawn to the performance but alas had to leave.
Site # 8 Huntington Lighthouse & Conklin House, 34 minutes remaining
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Conklin barn.
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Colonial style room.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Arriving at the Conklin house we entered a barn with an exhibit about the Huntington Harbor Lighthouse. The lighthouse isn‌t opened for the season yet, so the barn served as the location for our briefing and stamp.  The two speakers told us how the lighthouse‌s concrete foundation was prefabricated on land and then sunk into the harbor at the desired location, creating an ‌island‌ for the lighthouse to be built.
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Federal style decor.
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Elegant victorian era styling.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Then we entered the historic house and were shown rooms of three different periods. The first was the colonial period. This room had a very warm and cozy feeling. The next was the Federal style. It was simple, but had a much more formal look. The last room shown was from the Victorian era, and was very ornate.
Site #9 John Gardiner Farm, 11 minutes left
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John Gardiner's farmhouse.
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John Gardiner's barn.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Upon arrival to our second to last stop Laura pointed out we only had 15 minutes left. The John Gardiner farmhouse and barn isn‌t open too often and rushing through it was painful. We entered a room adjacent to the old barn. It looked like any modern museum. There was a newspaper article on one wall telling of a gruesome murder. In 1842 the house‌s residence were beaten to death with a hammer wielded by a short time employee. The motive is believed to be robbery.  ‌Wanna see the barn‌‌, asked our guide as he walked to a door.  Laura looked at her watch, but I had to see it. Entering the door the scenery changed to that of an 18th century barn. The only thing new in the barn is the floor. With only 10 minutes left we dashed to the car. I had to take a second to snap a shot inside the old farmhouse.
 Site #10 Walt Whitman Birthplace, -12 minutes
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Laura getting the final stamp.
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James showing off the grand prize.

 
 
 
 
 
 
It soon became apparent that we weren‌t going to make it to the last stop before 4pm. I asked Laura to call the next site and see when they close. Perhaps they are open later than 4 and would accommodate us. The events hotline provided us with the phone number. Laura got through just as they were leaving and the trusty GPS said we were three minutes inbound. After begging, they agreed to stay a couple of minutes longer. We barreled into the parking lot just in the nick of time.  The docent quizzed us on all the trivia questions, paying particular attention to what James recalled. I was proud that my 12 year old kid brother absorbed the history like a sponge. She handed us our DVD and we all felt accomplished.

Comments (2)

    The fairgrounds were located by the "brandywine apartments located on Paulski Rd. They have since been renamed. However the location is Lenox Rd and Paulski Rd. Also if you Travel on Mulford Ave from 9th St You will see two brick columns one on each side of the road. Also if you Travel down further on mulford you will see the same brick columns on 11Thst St and Continiung down 11th St you will see two more brick columns in the middle of the block on each side. These columns were actually gateway entrances to the Fairgrounds and were originally taller. These historic cloumns go unseen by many passerby and not given a second notice, but they were in fact the original entrance to the park. Also before the "brandywine apartments" were renewly renamed , they were once called the "Fairgrounds"
    I am looking for information about a horse track for trotters in the old Fairgrounds area in Huntington Ny. 19th Century...Some say it was off Whitson Road across from where the School is. Any one have any knowledge of it?

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