Historical perspectives
Tricia Foley, looking over fashion books, is curating Bellport-Brookhaven’s gala this year, “Designing Bellport.” It’s one of several events BBHS has lined up.

ADV/Leuzzi

Historical perspectives

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI
2/8/2018


Two upcoming local history talks at the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society, “Camp Upton” with a book signing and “The Manhattan Project From Los Alamos to Brookhaven National Lab: A Conversation with Tom Williams and Friends,” are aimed at shaking up the winter blahs. 

The Camp Upton talk on Feb. 24 will be given by Suzanne Williams, who wrote the Images of America “Camp Upton” book with Dave Clemens; the BNL Tom Williams talk is scheduled for March 31. Camp Upton, the former Army barracks site as well as other significant occurrences of World Wars I and II, was turned into the BNL research center at first for the peaceful use of atomic energy. Williams’ father worked on the Manhattan Project there, as did Bellporter Al Rand. It was a top-secret collaboration with scientists from other countries that developed the first atom bomb. 

Both talks begin at 4 p.m. in the Brown Building.

“Our mission is to educate the public on our local history,” said BBHS president Joan Kaelin, emphasizing there was more to come. The History Mystery Bicycle Scavenger Hunt will be repeated, as will the standing-room-only Authors and Artists discussions. Events will be centered around the Post-Crowell House now that the exterior has been restored; more children’s programs will be offered and maybe a swing night will take place under the stars. 

But the big kahuna will be the “Designing Bellport” gala, Kaelin said, scheduled for the first Saturday in June.

“Tricia Foley is the curator,” Kaelin said. “We’re going to do a lot this year.”

Foley, principal of Tricia Foley Design and author of 10 design/lifestyle books, has waved her magical wand organizing past BBHS galas. She also plays a pivotal role in the Yaphank Historical Society as their historian and authored a book on Mary Louise Booth, the founding editor of Harper’s Bazaar, a lifestyle magazine for women, who was born in Yaphank. 

“It’s not graphic design or interior design but fashion design,” said Foley of the wowee gala subject. “Did you know Josefa Neilson Osborne, who lived here, invented the shirtwaist?”

Probably not many do. The shirtwaist was the crisp, tailored blouse, usually white, worn by late-19th and early-20th century working women as well as the Suffragettes. The fashion item was made of cotton and could be easily washed and pressed. Osborne’s home is featured in Victor Principe’s book, “Bellport Village and Brookhaven Hamlet.” She’ll be the start of a timeline Foley has planned.

But Osborne won’t be the only Bellporter featured. There will be talks centered around the gala including actress Isabella Rossellini, who will discuss her modeling days (she began when she was 28) after the documentary film, “About Face, Super Model Then and Now” by Timothy Greenfield Sanders. Author, playwright and New York Times writer Bob Morris will moderate a fashion journalist panel of style locals. 

 “We have a wealth of media fashion people in Bellport, from young ones to some senior editors at Harper’s Bazaar and In Style; one was editor in chief of Self,” Morris said. “The mix of fashion and media people has always been heady and strong here, so we’ll have a lively conversation on old media, new media and how fashion has adapted. At one time, Instagram was considered silly and now it’s so important to have a following and get the word out.” 

It’s a bit early, but there are big names percolating to come.

Kaelin said BBHS also planned to continue programs into the fall. “We want to extend our season into October and November,” she added.