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Teens pen book on Franklin Square history

Hannah Mutum, center, and Kiera Grassi co-wrote the

Hannah Mutum, center, and Kiera Grassi co-wrote the book with Paul van Wie, president of the Franklin Square Historical Society. (Oct. 5, 2011) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Two Franklin Square teens with an interest in things far older than themselves have created the community's first nationally published history book, tracing events from its settlement in the 1600s through to the present.

Kiera Grassi and Hannah Mutum, both 16, created the book, with assistance from co-author Paul van Wie, president of the local historical society. The softcover book, titled simply "Franklin Square" and released earlier this month, is one of the latest in Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series and contains more than 200 vintage photographs.

"It's amazing to see all your hard work pay off and in a hard copy," Mutum said.

The 128-page book joins more than 7,500 Arcadia history titles about communities across the United States, including Floral Park, East Rockaway, Oceanside, the Five Towns, Levittown and Long Beach.

The book idea started in June 2010 when Grassi and Mutum, both now juniors at H. Frank Carey High School, were in a book store, saw the Long Island titles in the "Images of America" series and noticed Franklin Square wasn't among them. They contacted the publisher to find out when one would be released about the hamlet, but were told that it was up to area residents since they had access to old photos and information.

"They said it was up to us to do the book, so that's what we did," Mutum said.

The teens had volunteered with the historical society as part of their Girl Scout Gold Award in 2010. For that project, they spent a year creating a photographic survey project to record present-day Franklin Square.

"They gave up many weekends, days of summer vacation and winter break to do the work," said Grassi's mother, Carol Grassi.

The teens knew that van Wie, president of the Franklin Square Historical Society, had a collection of more than 2,000 photos. With permission from the historical society membership, the teens scanned all of the images onto CDs. They designed the book's layout and wrote the accompanying text, finishing the book in July.

"They have a really good eye for photographs," van Wie said. "It was a real team effort that has brought so much community pride."

The book has been available for purchase online and in stores since Oct. 3.

"I am proud and excited. I didn't think we would have a book with our name on it," said Kiera Grassi, who credited historical society member Betty McIssac, 73, for her help.

The book details a visit by George Washington in 1790 and another by poet Walt Whitman in 1840, and charts Franklin Square's development as a German-speaking farming community in the late 1800s. It points out that Franklin Square National Bank, once the 18th-largest bank in the United States, invented the first credit card in the early 1950s.

The authors said sale proceeds will go to completing a half-finished museum in Rath Park that the historical society started to construct in 2006.

"The youth of the community led the way for this project," van Wie said. "They have showed exemplary leadership."



When: Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.

Where: Barnes & Noble, 91 Old Country Rd., Carle Place

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