Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi, email@example.com Friday, 19 July 2013 00:00
The former Bruce Mansion, now known as The Woodlands at the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course, was filled with like spirits on July 9: advocates for preservation. The Oyster Bay Historical Society was honoring activists who put their energies into preserving history at their second annual Advocates for Historic Preservation and Education Awards Reception.
When Oyster Bay’s Ben Jankowski’s name was called out, he received cheers from supporters of him and his wife, Kathryn Prinz.
Jankowski was honored for his work as former chairman of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum for which he raised over a million dollars in grants and wrote their business plan. He encouraged the Town of Oyster Bay to revise its tree ordinance and he and Kathy Prinz were founders of Save the Jewel by the Bay. It is the group whose activism encouraged the Town of Oyster Bay to revise their zoning regulations in an attempt to preserve the suburban landscape in the township. Prinz also teaches flute and zither students, has a foot reflexology business and was responsible for a tree planted in front of the Oyster Bay Community Center in honor of Arbor Day.
She presented OBHS Executive Director Philip Blocklyn with a copy of the Jewels of Oyster Bay, a collection of photographs and articles about historic houses in Oyster Bay that first appeared as a column in the Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot.
Also worth mentioning is that honoree Michael Piccolo donated nine paintings to the silent auction. One of them, of St. John’s Episcopal Church of Cold Spring Harbor, was done when he was 23 years old. Another of Michael Piccolo’s paintings was won by Karen Loeffler in the silent auction.
Speaking to the audience, Blocklyn said of the OBHS, “We are just a very active place. We don’t just put things away in boxes. We don’t rope off historic rooms. We are all about sharing our historic past.”
He said when people ask how they can help, he tells them, “Just join and come to our events and workshops.”
Blocklyn introduced Brian Merlis, photo archivist, and Class of 2011 honoree to make the introductions. His preservation advice was, “We must wisely pick our fights to protect historic buildings.”
Local residents being honored included: Honoree Victoria Crosby, vice president of administration for the North Shore Historical Museum and host of Oasis radio program, and past regent of the DBE.
Honoree Nancy Metz, is a visual arts teacher at the Waldorf School in Garden City and with her husband George Lindsey, founders of the Long Island Traditional Music Association.
Honoree Stella Miller of the Huntington and Oyster Bay Audubon Association is the coalition coordinator of The Early Years Institute for teaching environmentalism to children.
Honoree Ed Mohlenhoff Esq., is with Koeppel, Martone and Leistman, one of the sponsors. He is board president of Youngs Cemetery and lives at Baker Hollow, his great-great-grandparents home that is about 130 years old.
Honoree Louis Norris was congratulated was for his work with Floating the Apple, a New York based group that builds Whitehall gigs for racing used to teach inner city youth the marvels of marine life.
Honoree Michael Piccolo, Esq., associate broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, donated nine paintings of local scenes to the silent auction. He has been involved in restoring several historic houses.
Monica Randall, historical preservationist, film location scout, author and “rescuer” of dresses from North Shore mansions being demolished in the ‘60s was also honored. Many of those garments are on view at the North Shore Historical Museum. Randall wore one of the collections’ dresses to the gala.
Honoree Alice Smith is president of the North Country Garden Club of America, the group that maintains the colonial garden at the Earle Wightman House, the headquarters of the OBHS.
Honoree Kate Velsor is director of the Underground Railroad Teaching Partnership, author of several books and preservationist interested in saving the Maine Maid Inn as an historic location on the Underground Railroad. The building is currently in “contested foreclosure” as the owner fights the designation. Velsor said there are buyers still interested in the historic inn, located in Jericho.
Other honorees include: Jason Antos, screenwriter and author; William Asadorian, archivist and librarian at the Long Island Collection and the Social Sciences Divisions of the Queens Borough Public Library; Carl Ballenas, moderator, the Immaculate Conception School; Christopher Collura, award winning print and broadcast reporter; Denward Collins, former president, Nassau County Historical Society; George Fosty, founder and president of Society of North American Historians And Researchers; Ron Marzlock, vice president of the Central Queens Historical Association; and Jim Trent, founder and president of the Queens County Farm Museum, the largest working farm museum in the world.
Bayville resident Dave Gugerty, Esq. recognized familiar faces including Jankowski of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. He said his children attended Oyster Babies and visited the trains. He brought citations to the honorees from Legislator Judy Jacobs. Gugerty said he is indebted to history as his daughters won prizes for articles on the history of the Bayville Bridge and the Nassau County Executive Building. Gugerty is running for a seat on the Nassau County Legislature 18th District.
The reception honored Long Islanders who have distinguished themselves as advocates for history’s vital role in our lives today. Historic preservation and education are two critical elements of the OBHS’s core mission. In addition, the reception raised funds in support of the society’s ongoing programs and services, including exhibitions, lectures, book signings, workshops, and other community events. For more information call 516-922-5032.