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A historical stroll through Baldwin

A clock boasting

A clock boasting "Beautiful Baldwin" stands next to the Baldwin Public Library. (Feb. 16, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

If you're passing through Baldwin you may not notice at first glance how much of Long Island's history dwells there. But it’s worth taking a little extra time to find out.

After covering a story about the hamlet's community coming together to save a local bread shop, I wandered into town Wednesday morning to learn more about the area and take pictures. It wasn’t long before I discovered that First Church Baldwin, United Methodist, on Merrick Road is celebrating its 200th anniversary.

Baldwin, originally Baldwinsville, is named after Thomas Baldwin, a beloved resident who ran a hotel and general store in town from the late 1700s until the late 1800s. The name was settled upon in the late 1890s -- 20 years after Baldwin died, according to Ed Daly, director of the periodicals program at the Baldwin Public Library. Before then the area was referred to as Hicks Neck and later Milburn.

Although many of Baldwin's historical buildings have been replaced or remodeled, there are several artifacts that stand today. One of the hamlet's firehouses is more than a century old and is still in use on Grand Avenue across the street from the library. Steele Elementary School, on Church Street, dates to 1916 and still has signs designating separate boys and girls entrances, although that rule is no longer enforced.

Baldwin's first movie theater, which dates to the 1940s, is barely reconizable as the current home of Baldwin Medical Complex. The Sunrise National Bank building, which now houses several businesses, and the Koch Insurance building, remain at the corner of Grand Avenue and Sunrise Highway opposite the Long Island Rail Road station. These buildings also date to the 1940s, according to the Baldwin fire department website.

In May 1910, Baldwin brothers Arthur and Albert Heinrich designed, built and piloted the first all-American monoplane, making the hamlet’s first mark on aviation history. Nearly 20 years later, aerospace giant Northrop Grumman got its start on Brooklyn Avenue. It later moved to Valley Stream -- no sign of the Baldwin factory remains. 

Check back soon for the Baldwin photo gallery.

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