Tagged: bays

A Neighborhood of History

St. David AME Zion Church in Eastville. Photo courtesy of the Eastville Community Historical Society.

St. David AME Zion Church in Eastville. Photo courtesy of the Eastville Community Historical Society.

Eastville endures. Through the rise and fall of the whaling industry, over the long slow death of slavery, past the rising tide of development on the East End of Long Island. From the early 19th-century this small collection of streets and houses east of Sag Harbor, anchored around the St. David AME Zion Church, has retained its character as a place that a vibrant mix of African Americans, Native Americans, and European immigrants called home.

On this episode of the Project, we speak with Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, Executive Director and Curator of the Eastville Community Historical Society. She relates the history of the area, from the early 1830s into the late 20th century when the Society was founded.

Portrait of an Eastville resident. Photo courtesy of the Eastville Community Historical Society.

Portrait of an Eastville resident. Photo courtesy of the Eastville Community Historical Society.

You’ll hear about the prominence of Native Americans and African Americans in the whaling industry as well as the importance of Sag Harbor as the first port of entry in New York. Among the people we discuss are Nathan Cuffee, a Montaukett member of the community who co-wrote the novel Lords of the Soil in 1905, depicting life on the east end of Long Island. Georgette also tells the surprising story of Pyrrhus Concer from nearby Southampton, an African American who, on a whaling voyage in 1845, became one of the first Americans to visit Japan.

We also discuss the challenges of documenting and preserving the histories of marginalized people. How do you prove, for example, that one of the trapdoors in the Church was used to hide escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad? How do you protect an unassuming house that is actually made out of wood from recovered 19th century shipwrecks and may contain generations of important stories?

EastvilleLOGOcapsBLUEfinal

Courtesy of the Eastville Historical Society

Sometimes you get lucky and discover a trove of tintype portraits nailed face-down into the floor of a cottage. Sometimes you fail, and structures get razed despite what they might be able to tell us about the past. Sometimes the results are mixed. Pyrrhus Concer’s house was demolished but only after significant parts had been salvaged.

You’ll hear Georgette talk about these cases and related issues along with the importance of understanding and enforcing the codes that should be helping inform decisions around such properties. You’ll also hear about ongoing projects to document African American burial sites throughout Long Island.

And if you enjoy these episodes, make sure to follow this site via email or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Leave us a comment and let us know what aspects of Long Island history you’d like to hear discussed.

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Behind the Camera with Thom Hoffman

Shinnecock DVD case

Shinnecock (2013). Photo courtesy of Thom Hoffman

When something piques Thom Hoffman’s interest, he starts asking questions. Then he tries to work out the answers through film. The result has been an eclectic mix of documentaries (three to date) that share some common traits: his desire to educate and his love of Long Island history.

Brother Cinema Poster copy

Brother, Can You Spare a Dollar? (2012).Photo courtesy of Thom Hoffman

On today’s interview you’ll hear how Thom got his start working with Ray Adell on the “About Long Island” radio series and then expanded into documentaries. His first film featured the story of Brooklyn doo-wop stalwart Lenny Cocco and the Chimes. Next came his comparison of the Great Depression and the Great Recession. His latest, Shinnecock, explores the long history of the Shinnecock Nation in Southampton.

Still In The Mood  DVD cover copy

Still in the Mood for Love (2010). Photo courtesy of Thom Hoffman

We also ask Thom about the challenges of producing and distributing documentaries on Long Island. How do you get them to a wider audience? How do you get the quality of production needed? His answers echo many of the things we’ve heard in our discussions with others involved in documentary filmmaking on Long Island.

On that note, if you’re interested in screening any of his movies or helping find a home for the “About Long Island” archive, you can contact Thom at hof565 [at] optonline.net

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Peter Fox Cohalan Part II

Suffolk County Historian Peter Fox Cohalan is back in session for part two of our interview. This week we get deeper into the history of Islip, traveling all the way from the bottom of the Bay (and who really owned it) back to Islip, England and the ancestral home of the Nicoll family.

We also get Peter Fox’s insight into historic preservation at the local and regional levels as well as the unique situations that can arise on Long Island.

Finally, we’ll hear about the work of the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation. As a board member, Peter Fox is involved in helping the Foundation support the study and preservation of New York history with a focus on Islip and Suffolk County.

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Holding Court with Peter Fox Cohalan

Peter Fox Cohalan was named Suffolk County Historian in 2012 but in many ways he’s been preparing for the role his whole life. In fact, the Cohalans and history go way back. The first Cohalan in America arrived with Lafayette during the Revolution. One branch of the family led to a Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall, another to the first Catholic priest on Long Island. In his own storied career, Peter Fox has been Islip Town Supervisor, Suffolk County Executive, and State Supreme Court Judge (one of five Cohalans -including his father-  to reach that position.)

With the historian’s eye for detail and the Irishman’s gift for storytelling, Peter Fox can discuss the Sayville of his youth as easily as the quarrels of the early Federalists. On this episode of the Project he recounts the Sayville of the 1930s and ’40s along with his father’s time as coach at the La Salle Military Academy in Oakdale.  We’ll also hear about preservation efforts he spearheaded (like the Islip Grange in Sayville) as well as his family’s connections to the unforgettable Robert David Lion Gardiner.

Join us next week for Part 2.

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Tales from the Shinnecock

Welcome back to our Native American Heritage Month discussion!

From Whaling and Fishing by Charles Nordhoff, 1895.

From Whaling and Fishing by Charles Nordhoff, 1895.

Today we bring you the rest of our conversation with members of the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center & Museum in Southampton, Long Island. This time out we’ll hear from director and curator David Bunn Martine. David relates how he got interested in Shinnecock history and by telling his family’s story he uncovers much of the scope and sweep of the Native American experience.

Geronimo. Illustrated American, Aug 16, 1890

Geronimo. Illustrated American, Aug 16, 1890

By the end of the episode you’ll hear about Samson Occum, long whaling voyages, the Shinnecock connection to Teddy Roosevelt, Geronimo, the Boarding School Period and more. We also talk about the difference between Plains and Woodlands people and the enduring danger of stereotypes.

Thanks also to Eileen Dugan, Education Coordinator at the Museum, for arranging these interviews.

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A Walk Through Time With the Shinnecock

David Martine, Cholena Smith, Chris Kretz, Connie Currie (l to r)

David Martine, Cholena Smith, Chris Kretz, Connie Currie (l to r)

To honor Native American Heritage month here at the Project, we’ve got two interviews lined up regarding the Shinnecock Nation in Southanmpton. Connie and I sat down with David Bunn Martine (Director and Curator) and Cholena Smith (Education and Program Manager) from the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center & Museum to discuss the history of the tribe and the operations of the Museum. Located at 100 Montauk Highway in Southampton, this is the only Native American-owned and -operated museum on Long Island.

Today in Part 1 you’ll hear about the origins and development of the Museum including their efforts to propagate the Shinnecock language. We also discuss the Shinnecock Powwow, the persistent challenge of stereotypes and, as a bonus, I finally get to use my knowledge of popular 19th-century German fiction writers.

Thanks also to Eileen Dugan, Education Coordinator at the Museum, for arranging these interviews.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in two weeks in which David will tell us more about Shinnecock history and the Native American experience in this country.

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Off to See the Wizard: Bringing Tesla to the Screen

ElectricTesla

“Showing the Inventor in the Effulgent Glory of Myriad Tongues of Electric Flame After He Has Saturated Himself with Electricity.” New York World, July 22, 1894.

Nikola Tesla was a bona fide Gilded Age celebrity, pulling front page headlines in the New York press and attracting the rich and famous to his late night laboratory demonstrations. You were nobody until Tesla shot you through with electricity.

And now Tesla’s time has come again. We conclude our special Tesla Month here at the Long island History Project talking to filmmaker Joe Sikorski about his documentary Tower to the People: Tesla’s Dream at Wardenclyffe Continues. Co-written with Michael Calomino, Tower to the People tells the story of Tesla and the successful fight to save his Wardenclyffe lab.

Bringing Tesla’s story to the screen has been a labor of love of Joe’s for some time and you’ll hear about his original dream: the full-length feature film Fragments from Olympus. We discuss the challenges of documentary film making and reveal more of Tesla’s fascinating life and why it lends itself so perfectly to film.

Are you in Los Angeles October 23-29th? Catch a special screening of Tower to the People at the Crest Theatre, 1262 Westwood Blvd. And tell them the Long Island History Project sent you!

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Lightning Strikes: Saving the Wardenclyffe Lab in Shoreham

Tesla Street

Corner of the Wardenclyffe site. Photo by Chris Kretz.

The historic site you want to preserve is up for sale for $1.3 million dollars. The good news: New York State will give you $850,000. The bad news: you have to raise the same amount. And there are other interested buyers. And the clock is ticking.

That’s the position The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe (TSCW) found themselves in by the summer of 2012. But don’t worry, there’s a happy ending. In this second of a two-part interview, Jane Alcorn (TSCW president) explains how they turned things around. The secret ingredient: enlist the aide of Matthew Inman, creator of the website The Oatmeal.

In the whirlwind of events that followed, offers of help poured in and TSCW was able to meet all their goals. And then the hard work began. Jane recounts it all and lays out future plans for the site and for Nikola Tesla’s legacy of scientific innovation. Remember to check the TSCW website for ways that you can get involved.

And stay tuned as our Tesla month continues. Next week on the podcast we interview filmmaker Joe Sikorski on his Tesla/Wardenclyffe documentary Tower to the People.

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Hooked on Tesla

“Nikola Tesla, Dreamer” From The World To-Day, 1901.

Jane Alcorn was hooked on science from an early age but it was not until a friend clued her in to the Wizard of Electricity  that she became hooked on Nikola Tesla. A major scientific player at the turn of the last century, Tesla established a lab at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, Long Island to pursue his innovative experiments in electricity, radio, and broadcast energy.

Drawing inspiration from his story, Jane and a dedicated group founded The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe. And eventually, they realized the dream of securing Tesla’s lab and have begun to restore it.

In the first of a two-part interview, Jane describes that journey and provides background on what made Tesla so inspiring. You’ll hear stories of his inventions and his interactions with the people of Shoreham as well as his connections to people like Mark Twain, Stanford White and George Westinghouse.

Look for part 2 next week when we discuss the long and surprising road to purchasing the Wardenclyffe site.

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Tuning in to Ray Adell

Longtime radio broadcaster Ray Adell of Ray Adell Media, WGSM, WBAB and more.

Longtime radio broadcaster Ray Adell of Ray Adell Media, WGSM, WBAB and more. Photo by Tom Hoffman.

Ray Adell is a radio man, from his early days broadcasting down in Virginia to his arrival at WGSM (World’s Greatest Suburban Market!) in Huntington in the early 1950s. But perhaps you’ll remember him best as the voice (and mind) behind “About Long Island,” the long-running radio spot sponsored by the Grumman Corporation. For over twenty years Ray and his staff at Adell Media served up snippets of Long Island history in morning drive time to educate and entertain.

In this interview Ray looks back at the people he’s met (Jack Ellsworth and Edmund Hillary to name just two), stations he’s worked at (WCAP, WEST, WKBS, WGSM and WBAB to name just five), and answers the question: is radio dead?

Leave a comment if you have memories of Ray or any of the old Long Island stations. And special thanks to Thom Hoffman for arranging this interview.

BONUS: The Long Island History Project is now listed in iTunes! If you like what you hear, please leave a review or rate us. If you’re not sure how, read this first.

Many great interviews ahead so keep listening! You can bookmark us, use the “follow” button to get email updates, or subscribe in iTunes or your podcast reader of choice.

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