Post-Morrow Foundation celebrates 50 years of preservation
Heading east on South Country Road, about a mile past The Gateway is Isabella Rossellini’s farm, with adjacent neighbor CEED and its historic Washington Lodge surrounded by a bountiful forest. Meandering further, a comforting gleam of green crops comes into view from Deer Run Farms. Just before the right turn onto Beaver Dam Road, the Old South Haven Presbyterian Church stands in its beautiful simplicity.
A knowing acknowledgement of mystical nature spirits that hover around the towering old trees, marshes, open fields, barns, the venerable churches and centuries-old houses with their blessings, clicks in upon entering Brookhaven hamlet. The preservation of its rural charm and animals like great blue herons, osprey and egrets are what Thomas and Elisabeth Post Morrow committed to, which ultimately established the Post-Morrow Foundation Inc. Protecting the countryside and historic character of this place via land purchases, vista trails, stewardship and preservation of Beaver Dam Creek and other environmental jewels has been Post-Morrow’s successful legacy for 50 years.
This well-known nonprofit, which partners with Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County and a number of venerable environmental groups, will celebrate that legacy on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 3-6 p.m. Come on down. Tickets are $40. The New Students will play their fun, rollicking music. On the menu is clam chowder, pork sliders, chili and more, with beer and wine. And the venue is spectacular.
“We’re working still on managing all our property,” said Post-Morrow vice president Tom Williams at their headquarters, the Morrow Homestead on Bay Avenue, overlooking the creek. “We’re also building a barn to store our equipment and we’ve cleared a circle for a meditative labyrinth. As for the celebration, we’re not charging a lot of money and kids are free. We’ll have food, drinks, games for the children, our 10-minute film and we’ll talk about the 50 years we’ve been here.”
Williams attempted to tally the amount of acquisitions, a daunting task. Overall, there are 300 acres owned outright by the foundation, but, including partnerships with the county, town and environmental groups, it swells to 500.
Specifically, 50 acres on the west bank of Beaver Dam Creek including the 33-acre Deer Run Farms, leased to Bob Nolan, whose family originally owned it, acquired by Post-Morrow and Suffolk County, is in the mix. So is the Center for Environmental Education and Development location, a trifecta arrangement; the foundation transferred the 7,000-square-foot Washington Lodge to the town for CEED’s use, and the town and county acquired the surrounding property, a 10-acre parcel. One hundred and forty acres along Beaver Dam Creek have been preserved, the 12-acre parcel on Clover Lane rehabilitated with Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York State Department of State and the South Shore Estuary. Fireplace Marina was purchased on the east side of the creek so that it will remain a locally operated marina, and the 10-acre acquisition on Edgar Avenue, now a passive park, stopped development there, and 25 acres acquired on Old Stump Road are now leased out in part to Hamlet Organic Garden.
That’s a small sample, there’s a lot more; it’s covered in the Post-Morrow Foundation 50th video, a stunner.
“From my own point of view, I can’t imagine what Brookhaven hamlet would look like without the foundation and its staff fulfilling its mission,” said Marty Van Lith, a resident, volunteer and supporter. “There’s lots of small parcels they also purchased. They bought Longmeadow Farm, the Burnett Lane Preserve, Sam Newey’s boatyard. They’ve done so much even with the Washington Lodge. If it weren’t for their initiative, that land would be developed. They even worked out of the area with Hedges Creek Preserve, now a county property in East Patchogue, and the Peat Hole in Bellport.”
Van Lith also pointed out that, while the Open Space Council led the charge, the foundation exerted an important influence in helping to acquire land adjacent to Wertheim in the 1990s, the former Southaven properties that were on the way to being developed.
“They also purchased old historic buildings and have done things that are very low-key,” Van Lith said. “Tom Williams’ thing is trails. He has them all over the place.”
The Post and Morrow families had a long history of philanthropy, including land gifts in Brookhaven hamlet, that spans centuries, so included in the tally is the four acres and the house that Tom and Elisabeth lived in, the Morrow Homestead.
Williams said there are enough funds to pay their staff, Florence Pope, James Hazard and Scott Budny, but prudence prevails in approving future acquisitions by the board.
“We’re trying to come up with creative ways,” he said of the future. “For instance, a person could get tax benefits from donating land.”
For tickets to the Sept. 14 Post-Morrow 50th Anniversary Celebration from 3-6 p.m., visit www.postmorrow.org. Event parking at the Brookhaven Elementary School at101 Fireplace Neck Road with shuttle service to the Foundation at 16 Bay Road (1/4 mile).
Like what you have read? Click here to subscribe to the Long Island Advance so you can read more stories like this, and find out everything that’s going on in your town!