HISTORICAL CORNER

Greater Patchogue Historical Society Museum

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Each week, reporter and history-lover Mariana Dominguez visits a historical location on the South Shore of Long Island. This week she visited the Greater Patchogue Historical Society Museum.

This week, I decided to go to the Greater Patchogue Historical Society Museum located in the lower level of the Patchogue-Medford Carnegie Library. Though open only on Fridays and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., the museum is well worth the slim hours to go take a peek at all of the fascinating items.

I really loved how the museum was set up to look as if you are walking through the Patchogue of yesteryears. There are items and signs from long-gone stores and businesses, and enlarged photos on the walls to make it seem as if you are walking down Main Street.

Formed in 1982, the GPHS Museum opened in the library in 2017. The space houses just a fraction of the historical items the GPHS has inherited over the years. I loved looking at the photos of Patchogue from years gone by and chatting with GPHS members, who were passionate about the town’s history.

One of the most interesting items currently at the museum is a cannonball on loan from the Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead. The cannonball was donated by the Smith family in 1899 to the museum and is believed to be shot during the War of 1812 into a tree on the property of Annanias Smith, who lived near the Great South Bay.

I also enjoyed looking at older knickknacks and everyday items that cannot be found anymore.

While at the museum, I was encouraged to take as many pamphlets and fliers as I wanted, and I loved reading the GPHS newsletter The Trolley Stop. I learned from the newsletter that a barn I pass every day on my way to work and have never looked twice at has historical significance. According to the newsletter, the barn was originally part of the old Canfield Estate, but now sits in the parking lot of the Long Island Advance offices.

There were also great stories of historical significance in the newsletter, such as recent historical discoveries in the area and even a brief history of weathervanes in America.

In addition to the museum, the GPHS also maintains The Swan River Schoolhouse, located at 31 Roe Avenue in East Patchogue. According to a pamphlet created by the society, the schoolhouse was built in approximately 1858. In 1962, a proposition was approved by the voters of the Patchogue School District to sell the premises to the Town of Brookhaven for the purpose of establishing a town-owned museum. In 1971, the museum was restored to the original one-room schoolhouse of the late 1800s. Today, the GPHS gives tours of the schoolhouse to school groups and opens the building to the public for a few weekends in the summer. The Swan River Schoolhouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in August 2017.

The GPHS Museum serves many different purposes. Members of the community can come enjoy the exhibits, bring items they may have that they believe are of historical significance, and even stop by with questions about Patchogue’s history. One of the volunteers during my visit noted that many people stop by with questions about old buildings that were around years ago, or with help trying to research specific subjects.

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