Long Island history will be a lot less dusty, tattered and peeling this spring with major restorations completed or showing results at architectural treasures from Oyster Bay to Southampton.
Local history buffs can visit the freshly painted and refurbished past at a vanished East End hamlet’s one-room schoolhouse and on house tours of two 19th century bedchambers updated with 21st century know-how. Fans of President Theodore Roosevelt can check out the “bully” improvements at the railroad station where he departed from Oyster Bay to Washington, D.C.
Here are Long Island historic sites where an old house has been made new again.
RED CREEK SCHOOLHOUSE
WHEN | WHERE Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Rogers Mansion Museum Complex, 17 Meeting House Lane, Southampton
INFO 631-283-2494, southamptonhistory.org
Southampton’s one-room schoolhouse is the last vestige of Red Creek, a Peconic Bay shipbuilding village that all but disappeared by the end of the 19th century, says Tom Edmonds, executive director of the Southampton Historical Museum. The museum purchased the building in 1953 and moved it to its one-acre park of preserved 19th century buildings, where it’s a popular field trip destination for school kids.
With a matching $50,500 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation in Hampton Bays, the schoolhouse was restored to the way it looked in the 1830s. Among the period details are replicated benches and long desks to show the setting where 40 Red Creek children learned the three R’s.
The official opening will be celebrated at the restored schoolhouse 2-4 p.m. Saturday, May 5.
OYSTER BAY RAILROAD MUSEUM
WHEN | WHERE Noon-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Memorial Day (opens at 10 a.m. weekends through Labor Day), 102 Audrey Ave., Oyster Bay
INFO 516-558-7036, obrm.org
ADMISSION $5 ($3 ages 6-12)
A $1.4 million project restoring the station to its 1902 heyday has already unearthed a find: oyster shells, which were embedded as a design element in the concrete. The relics were uncovered when paint was stripped from the outside west wall, says museum volunteer Gary Farkash of Baldwin. Three windows on the west wall, which had been covered over by stucco for 70 years, were removed for restoration and are expected to be reinstalled by summer, Farkash says. In another lucky break, re-creating the station interior will be aided by a recently discovered photo that Farkash says is the only known shot of the building that shows what it looked like in Roosevelt’s era. The site also includes a display yard featuring a steam locomotive among other equipment around a railroad turntable, and a museum with artifacts from the Long Island Rail Road dating back to its inception in the 1800s.
DAVID CONKLIN FARMHOUSE MUSEUM
WHEN | WHERE 1-4 p.m. Fridays and Sundays, 2 High St., Huntington
INFO 631-427-7045, huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org
ADMISSION $5 suggested donation
A room-by-room restoration is underway at The Huntington Historical Society’s farmhouse, which was constructed in 1750 and expanded in 1800 and at the turn of the 20th century, says Toby Kissam of the society.
The first completed project is the Victorian bedchamber. Walls and ceilings were repaired and repainted, windows were refurbished and furniture restored. A pleasant surprise came when original plaster from the early 19th century was uncovered under particleboard. “We were surprised to find that it [the original plaster] was in good condition, so we kept it,” Kissam says.
BAYARD CUTTING ARBORETUM STATE HISTORIC PARK
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, 440 Montauk Hwy., Great River
INFO 631-581-1002, bayardcuttingarboretum.com
ADMISSION $8 parking ($12 guided tours 1 p.m. Thursday-Sunday)
The second-floor manor house bedroom of Justine Ward, the daughter of businessman and philanthropist William Bayard Cutting, was restored to “what a girl’s bedroom looked like in the 1880s,” says Nelson Sterner, arboretum executive director. Its historic details include a Tiffany glass tile fireplace.
Ward would grow up to become the first woman to develop an American elementary music education method, known as the Ward method.