People taking a stroll along Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst will now be able to step back in time with the reopening of the village’s Historic Home Museum.
The reopening also serves as the unveiling of the museum’s second-floor renovations, which have taken years to complete, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The home dates to around 1915. The museum was originally housed across the street in a small building that was physically moved to Irmisch Park in 2013 to make room for an expansion of the firehouse. Many of the items are now on display for the first time, having been relegated to storage due to the small size of the previous museum.
"It’s such a relief!" said museum director Marianne Guglieri. "I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that we are finally going to be open."
The village has spent about $356,000 on the relocation, building purchase and renovations, using more than $255,000 in grants and fundraising.
"It’s going to be very nice when visitors come to be able to say, ‘Oh, let’s go upstairs’ because for the last four years we’ve been saying "It’s just not quite yet ready," said village historian Anna Jaeger.
The museum’s most famous memorabilia sits in the front parlor and is from a 1930 exhibition baseball game in Lindenhurst featuring Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. But the majority of the items in the house are famous only in their connection to local history, such as the desk belonging to Thomas Welwood that sits in the home’s living room. Welwood, an Irish immigrant and the namesake of Lindenhurst’s main, misspelled thoroughfare, Wellwood Avenue, was one of the village’s founders. The living room contains several musical instruments, including the organ of a Civil War soldier, and furniture from the Nehring Hotel, the village’s first hotel that was built in the 1870s.
"We tried to set up the house so that once you leave the front porch, it’s as if there’s a family living here," Guglieri said.
The dining room features light fixtures from the original Lindenhurst Senior High School, built in 1930. The kitchen has an icebox, handmade copper pots and a noodle maker from Germany. Throughout the home are the "knick-knacks of the day" that were "owned by or used by someone from Lindenhurst," Jaeger said.
Upstairs, visitors will find a medicine cabinet filled with early 20th century elixirs. In the parents’ bedroom is a quilt with the names of Lindenhurst families sewn in 1918 by parishioners of nearby Our Lady of Perpetual Help church. In the children’s bedroom there is a 1924 dollhouse made in Germany.
"You get to immerse yourself for a little bit in living in Lindenhurst in an earlier time," said Babylon Town historian Mary Cascone. The items also provide visitors with an invaluable "connectivity to their own memories" and to their community, she said.
Historical Society president Shawn Cullinane hopes the museum’s prime downtown location will draw in those coming to the new restaurants nearby.
"This is what drives Lindenhurst, is this strong sense of history," he said. "And even though there’s constant change going on, we’re bringing something here that’s kind of an anchor to what the past was like."
LINDENHURST VILLAGE HISTORY
The area was originally traversed by the Secatogue and Massapequa tribes in search of food. The area was called Neguntatogue, which means “forsaken land.”
In the 1600s, English farmers living in Huntington came upon the area in search of salt hay.
In the 1780s, one of the first settlements was established by Jesse Ketcham on what is now Montauk Highway, east of Washington Avenue.
In the 1860s, a railroad line came, changing what had been a quiet farming community.
In 1870, Irish immigrant Thomas Welwood joined with German immigrant Charles Schleier to help create the village’s first incarnation as the City of Breslau.
In 1891, the village’s name was changed to “Lindenhurst” after the linden seeds many German immigrants had planted.
In 1923, it became the Incorporated Village of Lindenhurst.
Source: Lindenhurst Historical Society, Town of Babylon