Nassau County Legislator Dennis Dunne, Sr. recently congratulated the Levittown Historical Society on their 20th anniversary. Also seen here is Peg Stein, Bob Koenig, Frank McKenna, President Polly Dwyer, Ailene Manton, Jim Ward, Barbara Fisch and Anne and Bob Bastos.
In 1997, a room in the Levittown Memorial Education Center was set aside to commemorate Levittown's pioneering history. During the town's 50th anniversary celebration, officials decided that it was time to develop a museum honoring its past.
"Members of the community thought that it would be nice to have a place that people could walk through and view mementos from the town's past," Bob Koenig, a resident and member of the Levittown Historical Society explained.
Upon its inception, it was agreed that the museum would only exist through the anniversary year. Quickly, however, it grew larger and the will to make it permanent gained strength.
"After the year dissolved, they decided to keep going," said Koenig. "Here we are a decade later and the school still grants us the space to operate."
At the beginning of the museum tour, old newspapers, declaring the Allied victory in World War II, sit in a glass case among other relics from the time. Among these, is a picture of William Levitt in his Naval uniform.
"Levitt himself was a veteran and heard firsthand of the desire to build families and homes upon return to America," Koenig stated. "Unfortunately, back then, people were not in the market for housing and there was no call for builders."
Photographs, which populate the walls of the museum, show the Levittown area at the time, when it was known as the Hempstead Plains and served mainly as farmland.
"When Levitt arrived, it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time," said Koenig. "Farmers were looking to sell and he was looking to buy."
Just past the photographs, there is an area of toys and recreational items from the 1950s.
"The section was created to give visiting children a glimpse into what it was like to be a kid back then," explained Koenig. "A trip here is actually a part of the curriculum for all Levittown second graders."
Deeper in the museum, there stands an exact replica of an original Levitt kitchen, bedroom and living room. There is even an area that boasts local publications from the day and coffee mugs, which advertise the names of businesses that have called Levittown home at some point.
"Everything comes from a Levittown home," Koenig said.
Levittowners are not the only ones interested in the town's history, however.
"We have had students from Japanese and German schools come to the museum to learn about William Levitt's methods of architecture," Koenig said.
As for a layperson taking the tour, "you do not need to be a student of architecture to take the tour," Koenig joked. "We have days and times set aside for open houses and if anyone wishes to come down outside of those times, we do our best to accommodate them."
Formed in 1988, the Levittown Historical Society is a not-for-profit organization that works to preserve the history of Levittown.
The museum is located on the first floor of the Levittown Memorial Education Center, which is on Abbey Lane. The hours of operation are: Wednesdays from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information call 735-9060 or visit www.levittownhistoricalsociety.org.