The Long Island Music Hall of Fame has finally found a home — and even a new name. The nonprofit will move to the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational and Cultural Center in Stony Brook and be known by an expanded title, the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF). The announcement was made at a news conference from the facility on Tuesday.
“This is the perfect timing for something like this. People are looking for things to be nostalgic about,” says Kevin O’Callaghan, LIMEHOF creative director and board member. “We will be doing exhibitions that are both interactive and informative with an educational element.”
The hall of fame already has more than 100 members including music legends Billy Joel, Joan Jett, Lou Reed, Debbie Gibson, Blue Öyster Cult, Pat Benatar and Twisted Sister.
The 8,800-square-foot building, located at 97 Main St., is two stories with an elevator. The first floor has a lobby area with a 28-foot ceiling, plus a large exhibition space and a gift shop. Upstairs, there’s a large partitioned room that will house the permanent LIMEHOF exhibit, with remaining space used as a theater, classrooms, a library and a work area.
Finding a physical home has been a decadeslong road for the hall of fame. In 2011, the organization was going to be located in Port Jefferson, but board chairman Ernie Canadeo said renovations “would have cost us a million dollars to bring the building up to code.” In 2014 came plans for the organization's museum to be the cornerstone of the $500 million Wyandanch Rising development in partnership with the Town of Babylon. "It just didn't happen," Canadeo said. Instead, the group launched a mobile museum housed in a 38-foot-long, 400-square-foot Winnebago in 2019.
The idea to place the hall of fame in this new building came from Ward Melville Heritage Organization president Gloria Rocchio. “I knew they were looking for a permanent home and that they had some other false starts, so I picked up the phone,” says Rocchio. The Educational & Cultural Center has run as a multipurpose event space for 20 years but has been closed due to COVID-19 since March 2020. "This is the next step,” she said.
O’Callaghan said the location is a perfect fit, citing other Stony Brook Village museums such as The Jazz Loft and the Reboli Center for Art and History.
“This is the new museum hub, kind of like Mitchel Field in our own little way,” he said.
The organization has signed a 25-year lease and is set to move into the building July 1. A grand opening is planned for November, Canadeo says.
There will be two exhibits on the first floor — a main feature and a smaller secondary one — that will change twice a year. The first large exhibition planned will be on “Long Island’s Legendary Club Scene from the 1960s to the 1980s.”
The permanent Hall of Fame exhibit upstairs will feature memorabilia from various inductees in different forms of display.
“It’s not going to be like the National Baseball Hall of Fame with bronze busts,” says O’Callaghan. “We are playing with different ideas — possibly featuring each artist's most popular album with interactive screens."
The organization's name change allows for an expansion of membership that extends beyond music and will include actors, comedians and Broadway stars.
“I had lunch with Billy Joel and he said, ‘I can’t believe there’s not another hall of fame that has comedians and other forms of entertainment. You guys should do that.’ I said, ‘You’re right!’ ” says Canadeo.