Setauket's unique Chicken Hill community to be honored at local historical exhibit

The Three Village Historical Society is located in The Three Village Historical Society is located in the Bayles-Swezey House, which has been around since the 1800s. (April 26, 2011) Photo Credit: Jasmin Frankel

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At its height in the 1930s and 1940s, Chicken Hill, an area that surrounded the Methodist Church on Route 25A in Setauket, was a multiethnic community of laborers and small business owners.

The neighborhood was composed of emigrants from Poland, Lithuania, Russia and Italy, as well as African-Americans and American Indians.

They worshipped primarily at St. James Catholic Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a Setauket synagogue that is today the North Shore Jewish Center.

Many residents were employed as gardeners, stablemen, caretakers, laundresses and housekeepers in the homes north of the area.

Small farms and home gardens were mixed into the community's fabric. And residents were participants in school programs, baseball teams and socials.

Long Island residents can learn about the historical relevance of Chicken Hill when the Three Village Historical Society hosts the opening preview reception of an exhibit on the neighborhood on June 21.

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The exhibit officially starts the following day and will be held each Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. for at least one year, said Sandy White, the society's office manager.

It consists of five major themes, including "Pianos and Rubber Boots," which traces the evolution of Chicken Hill from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century.

"We Came Together" examines the religious, social and cultural development of the area, while "Our Families and Our Play" portrays family life and the activities surrounding Setauket baseball.

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"I remember," will be a touch screen presentation of former residents telling their stories of Chicken Hill.

The opening reception is free, but donations are welcome. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or email info@tvhs.org.

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