It was July 4, 1903 that President Theodore Roosevelt made the trip from Oyster Bay to Huntington to take part in Huntington's 250th Anniversary. Imagine, many cities across America were in their infancy or not even founded yet and Huntington was celebrating 250 years.
I bring up this visit for two reasons. In 1903 there were still a number of civil war veterans active in town affairs. Also there were a few grandfathers who remembered their grandfather's talk of the American Revolution.That was the backdrop for the first sitting president to ever visit Huntington as he addressed the crowd. The main gist of his speech was twofold. One is to "Express our pride in what our forefathers did" but more importantly, "Expressing the resolution that we will strive to measure up to those deeds which have made up this nation's greatness." As we celebrate the 4th with BBQs and a visit to the fireworks show, let us not forget T.R.'s words.
The other reason that I bring up Roosevelt's visit is that on July 12 Sagamore Hill, the Roosevelt's home, is set to reopen after three years of renovation. The total cost of this renovation surpassed six million dollars. "This project represents a significant investment by the American people ensuring that the Roosevelt home and its irreplaceable collections are protected for future generations to appreciate, gain inspiration and learn from." said Superintendent Tom Rose as the project began.
If you have an afternoon free, a visit to Sagamore Hill is a mere 15 minutes away and well worth it. As a college student I worked at Sagamore Hill on a film crew for a show called "Great Homes of America" hosted by E.G. Marshall. That is when I realized the jewel of our history that was literally in our backyard.
I would now like to talk about another jewel we have in our backyard that many in Huntington do not realize. The sewing and trade school building on Main Street was built in 1905 to accommodate a school established in 1881 to teach the trades. In 1982 the Huntington Historical Society purchased the building and in addition to housing their administrative offices it also houses their vast archives. This archive includes many artifacts from colonial Huntington and also one of the largest photo collections of local history on Long Island.
By coincidence or not the Sewing and Trade School building has also been undergoing a massive renovation, addition and restoration of many of its original features.Like Sagamore Hill the mission and aim of the project is"to protect these irreplaceable collections for future generations to appreciate, gain inspiration and learn from." Unlike Sagamore Hill; the Trade School building is being built without the benefit of the federal government and your tax dollars. Luckily many individuals including Doris Buffet, sister of Warren, and the Stevens family from Stevens Toyota have stepped forward to protect these treasures that left unguarded from the ravages of time, temperature and humidity would be lost forever. You can add Carole and I to that list. I feel that the spirit of our community is strengthened by an understanding of our past.
The project funding is 90% of the way to its goal but without the last 10% we run the risk of not being able to put in place the proper storage of all of the archives and collections.
COULD YOU PLEASE HELP? Any amount will help get the project over this final hurdle. I invite any and all of you to contact me or the Historical Society for a full explanation of the project. There are still some opportunities available to have your family name etched in stone for the future history of Huntington to continually recognize. Please visit the links below.
Click here for the full text of Roosevelt's speech
Visit Sagamore Hill's Facebook page
Please enjoy your days,
and most of all have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!