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History buff finds a home in Smithtown, leads historical society
Kiernan Lannon, 31, executive director of the Smithtown Historical Society, has lived in Smithtown since 2006. A graduate of the Cooperstown Graduate Program with a master of arts degree in history museum studies, Lannon has co-authored two books, “Smithtown” and “Smithtown: Then and Now.”
Tell me how you came to be in Smithtown.
I came here for the job. I started as director of education of the Smithtown Historical Society and then within a month moved to acting director and now I’m executive director.
And what are your responsibilities?
I handle the administrative side and supervise curatorial projects and education programs.
This place is beautiful. What can you tell me about the cottage we’re in now?
We’re here in the Roseneath Cottage, built by Verne Rockwell in 1918. Its one of four historic homes on our 21-acre property. We also have two old barns. It’s a beautiful light brown cottage with green trimming. Our administrative office is upstairs and we’re in the process of organizing things downstairs.
I’m curious, has history always been an interest of yours?
It was always my favorite subject in school. You get swept up in the heroism of it all. The battles and the strong leaders. The heroism grabs you. I had always wanted to be a high school history teacher, but after going to Marquette University to study history and political science, I quickly became aware of the constraints of teaching in a classroom. So, I changed my goal. Instead, I wanted to work on the public side of history, so I took a college class on history museums and loved it.
From a historical perspective, what’s so interesting about Smithtown?
The absolute coolest thing about Smithtown is how much pride the locals have for the history of their community. Their community means a lot to them and so many of them want to learn more. I look at the evolution of the history of Smithtown as a whole and it’s rather interesting. When you look at it today it’s so different from what it was, going from being an agrarian society to a bustling suburb. You look around and a lot of the old buildings in those black-and-white photos are still here. Check out the old fire station on Bellemeade Road in Smithtown, just north of Main Street. It’s still there.