Wayne McCann knew he was buying a piece of Glen Cove history 26 years ago when he purchased a house formerly owned by the city's second police chief.
What he didn't know was that Frank McCue had inadvertently left him a historical artifact as a bonus -- one of McCue's police badges inexplicably lodged behind a basement wall. And Tuesday night McCann will donate it to the city.
A year after buying the house with a wraparound porch on Pearl Street -- named for the chief's wife -- McCann ripped out the basement walls. "I was doing some basic installation because it's an older home, and I happened to find the badge inside one of the walls," he explained. "I put it in a box in the basement and forgot about it."
But recently McCann, a real estate broker who owns Harmonious Homes, was in the basement preparing for electrical and plumbing work "and came across this badge again. I thought, 'Holy cow, I forgot all about this.' "
So he called Mayor Ralph Suozzi to see whether the city wanted the badge of the man who was the youngest police chief in state history when he was appointed in 1928 at age 28 and was the longest serving chief in state history when he retired 42 years later.
"He has a sense of history," the mayor said of McCann. "He realizes the significance that it might have to the community."
The mayor said that after the presentation of the badge at Tuesday night's City Council meeting, he would offer the relic to the family of McCue, who died in 1978. If they do not want to keep it, the badge could go to the current police headquarters, named for McCue, or to the North Shore Historical Museum, which opened this year in the former Justices Court Building at 140 Glen St. where McCue worked.
"I would love to have it in the police station, but we really should consult the family," said the current chief, William Whitton.
McCue's daughter, Barbara Caggiano, said "it's pretty funny" that the badge had turned up after so many years. "I can't imagine how it got into the walls."
The badge reads "CITY OF GLEN COVE MOTORCYCLES SERGEANT" and appears to have been designed to attach with two pins to a hat, McCann said.
Barbara Caggiano said she has several of her father's badges, as well as his gun mounted on a plaque presented by the police department.
"I have some pictures of him on his motorcycle that were taken by my sister," she added.
As to whether she would like to see the badge displayed in the police station or the museum, Caggiano, who plans to be at the meeting Tuesday night with her daughter, Maggie Tanchuck, said, "Either one would work for me."
She said she has already donated artifacts to the museum in her father's name. And "since he spent his life there -- he called it his office" -- the museum might make the most sense, she said.
Glen Cove's Frank McCue
He joined the city police department in 1923 at age 23, moving up to become chief in 1928.
When he became the second chief of the department at age 28, he was the youngest police chief in state history.
The department McCue ran had 23 men, three patrol cars, three motorcycles and an ambulance.
McCue was the longest serving chief in state history when he retired in 1970.
He died in 1978.
The city's current police headquarters in the old City Hall at 1 Bridge St. was dedicated and named for McCue in 1995.
Seven other chiefs have served subsequently, including the current office holder, William Whitton.