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Things Are Looking Up at Historical Society Including the Roof and the Internet

The Earle-Wightman House at 20 Summit Street, headquarters of the Oyster Bay Historical Society, is in line for a roof repair.  It is especially critical after the blizzard that started Sunday afternoon, Dec. 26. “On Sunday afternoon when it started to snow I went into the house to make sure everything was covered with plastic in case the snow got in. We did that last year. On Monday I came in to work and looked into the attic and there was a little snow but not as much as the year before.  The town was very responsive and came right over to look at it. I’m concerned that the weather will delay the repair but it is critical that it must be done,” said  Oyster Bay Historical Executive Director Phil Blocklyn.

 Earlier in the month, Mr. Blocklyn had said, “Hopefully the roof will be repaired  before winter and snow gets into our attic. I ran in here Tuesday morning after the snowfall [on Monday night, Dec. 13,] to see that nothing had melted yet and everything seemed fine. They need to do it quickly. Last year during the big snowfall before Christmas, all the snow got into the attic and then began to melt.

“Millicent Pittis, administrative assistant, saw water in the lighting fixture globes. The town responded quickly and shoveled out the snow. The town was very good responding to the emergency and were here in an hour and by the next day they had it all cleaned up,” recalled Mr. Blocklyn.

Recently the town put up the scaffolding for the roof repair work. The town is in charge of contracting for the work.

Mr. Blocklyn, said in talking to the consultants, they requested the new roof be made of “north west cedar shingles” in keeping with the original to maintain the historic nature of the building.

A town spokesperson said, “The name of the company the Town contracted (not sub-contracted) with to put the new roof on the Earle-Wightman House is DME Construction, Associates, Inc., which is based in Setauket. The work will begin sometime after Christmas, as supplies are on order.”

Koenig Center

Currently the society is getting ready to move its collection to its new building located at the back of their property. The OBHS is planning to open the Angela P. Koenig Research and Collections Center in mid-February, but that move will take some time in which to transfer the archives and collections from the current location  to the new center,  said Nicole Menchise, OBHS librarian/archivist.

Mr. Blocklyn said, “The building will not be complete, but we will have our certificate of occupancy so we can mount the new exhibit. We are hoping people will see the beautiful exhibit space and will want to donate generously to complete the building.

“At the present time the elevator has not been installed - yet. We are concentrating on the ground floor first and will go on to the other floors as we progress. So for a particular period of time we will be using the two buildings and running back and forth as we complete the rooms. The timing all depends on the needs of construction and the funding,” he said.

“The bookcases are being constructed on-site and the vendor will be in charge of them. They do all the shelving and put it in place. Collections will be moved only  under the supervision of the professional staff.” he explained.

The new exhibit is being worked on by Mr. Blocklyn and curator Yvonne Noonan Cifarelli. “The concept is to concentrate on The Elizabeth Roosevelt Family Collection donated to the society in November 2010. A major component of the exhibit will be Dan Christoffel’s portraits of TR and Lincoln - and they will be for sale,” said Mr. Blocklyn.


Spreading the News

While focusing on the history of the town, the OBHS is linked into the future as it offers its collections on the Internet. Mr. Blocklyn is the Internet expert in charge. “Since I do it myself, it is easy to change things,” he said.

 Archivist/librarian Nicole Menchise has been putting up “before and after” stories about local buildings on their website There is a quick link to Archivist Blog. On Dec. 9 she put up information about Snouder’s Corner Drugstore. There is also a blog on the Derby-Hall Bandstand. Earlier she did the Octagon Hotel.

The OBHS is becoming very Internet savvy with their materials online. “Soon we will have all the Freeholders available online. Now there are about 12 in pdf form,” said the executive director/Internet designer.