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Students get street smarts in Miller Place

Miller Place historian Jane Carter, far right, points

Miller Place historian Jane Carter, far right, points out historical sites to fifth-graders as they walked the town Friday. (Dec. 3, 2010) Credit: Ursula Moore

Miller Place’s Carter family doesn’t tend to stray too far. Local historian Jane Carter grew up in the North Country Road home her daughter now lives in. Her other daughter lives down the block in the home of Carter's great-grandfather, Alfred Davis.

Carter attended Miller Place Academy and North Country Road School, then taught kindergarten in the Miller Place School District. So it was only fitting for her to lead Friday morning’s walking tour of historic sites for fifth-grade students from Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School in Miller Place.

"This place holds so much history for me,” said Carter of the Miller Place Historical District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. “My grandfather, father and aunt were postmasters here in Miller Place. It's a great place to live. I can't imagine living anywhere else."

Carter started by explaining the origin of the hamlet’s name -- simply that there were so many Millers in the town during the 1700s. One of the original settlers was Andrew Miller, a native of England.

The tour included a visit to the home of Margaret Davis Gass, author of “History of Miller's Place.” Gass spoke about the house, built in 1740, which was once a one-story homestead and is unique because it has a fireplace in the cellar.

The tour also included the academy, now a library; Holiday House, which was purchased by the New York League of Girls’ Clubs; Old Miller Homestead, now owned by the Miller Place Historical Society; Harbour House, a former summer getaway for people living in New York City; and Miller Place Ark, a bed-and-breakfast that was once the home of Ebenezer Miller during the Revolutionary War.

The latter property was sold to Tony Soma, who had a daughter named Enrica. She married film director and actor John Huston, father of Anjelica Huston of “The Addams Family” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” fame.

"I thought this was something we should do and I connected with Mrs. Carter, which was perfect," said fifth-grade teacher Gina Tyler, who hopes to make the tour into a regular learning experience for students.

Joey Toporek, 11, agreed. "It was fun learning about all this stuff and the walking was great,” he said. “It's good exercise."

Miller Place historian Jane Carter, far right, points out historical sites to fifth-graders as they walked the town Friday. (Dec. 3, 2010)

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