Written by Mary Ellen Porrazzo, email@example.com Friday, 08 February 2013 00:00
On the anniversary of the ribbon cutting at One Heitz Place, Hicksville’s Gregory Museum paused to celebrate.
Memories were shared, friendships renewed and fellowship prevailed as an overflow crowd gathered in the second floor community room, festively decorated for the occasion, for a special program from Museum President Richard Althaus, entitled “50 Years of Service of The Gregory Museum.”
In his opening remarks Historical Society President Mike Christodoulou said. “Hicksville has a great history. We are family.”
Soon the gathering was glued to the screen for the presentation, as slide after slide, Althaus’ informative narration accompanied the visuals. The room’s silence was broken only by gentle laughter and comments such as “remember that?” or “Look!” at the sight of old friends and special times.
Originally housed at the Cottage Boulevard home of its namesake, Dr. Gardiner Gregory and his wife, Anne, the museum hosted school trips from the start. Its present location – once a vital village hall and courthouse built in the late 1800s – was transformed from an abandoned and vandalized building thanks to tireless local volunteers.
For some three years, they knocked down walls, built new ones, designed and redesigned, spackled, painted – everything necessary to bring the building to life. Among the helping hands were Botto Mechanical, McKeon Lumber, Ruhback Plate Glass Company, BOCES students and countless community members. One nod to the past remains – a jail cell on the first floor, bars and all.
Now the Gregory Museum is writing its own page in Hicksville’s history as a thriving and innovative educational and scientific institution that is home to regular school tours and projects, natural history collections. Fossils, minerals and butterflies along with science exhibits and community events are only a handful of the attractions
“You want to preserve the history of Hicksville,” Trustee Vera Althaus said.
Before the program, docent and staff entomologist Paul Manton pointed out that the site of the museum “was once the center of town.” With great enthusiasm, Manton told a group of visitors about a dinosaur egg, which came from China, that’s currently on display in a sparking glass case. Among those listening closely was Hicksville resident Elaine Peters.
“This is a great little museum. There is so much here,” said Peters. “Everything is done in an educational way.”
A member of the Historical Society she recalled working at Thom McCan in Mid Island Plaza (now the Broadway Mall) before it was enclosed. Bubbling with enthusiasm, she remembered bringing her young daughter to the museum constantly and loving every moment.
“Hicksville makes you proud. Hicksville has a Historical Society and we have a museum,” Historical Society President Christodoulou proudly remarked, noting most communities have neither.
After the presentation, attendees dined on delicious sandwiches and homemade baked goods. A special anniversary celebration is being planned for May 1 at the Milleridge Inn.
Echoing the sentiments of residents past and present, Fran Jablonski said, “I love Hicksville.”
To learn more about the Gregory Museum, call (516) 822-7505 or visit gregorymuseum.org.