Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi, email@example.com Wednesday, 26 February 2014 00:00
Everything came together as the Friends of Raynham Hall Museum held their Valentine’s Day gala at the Piping Rock Club on Feb. 14. It celebrated that Oyster Bay is the home of the first recorded Valentine: in 1779 British occupying commander Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe of the Queen’s Rangers gave it to the American Sarah Townsend, 19. The funds raised will benefit their new education center in the Lincoln Building at 30 West Main St. and the museum campus.
Guests came prepared to bid on the well-chosen silent action items, with a sweetheart theme as well as the successful live auction, which ended with the opportunity to donate funds to bring bus loads of fourth-grade students from cash strapped districts to come and learn about the American Revolution.
Patricia Pulling Sands was honored for her work for the museum over the years, including chairing the development committee, which is spearing heading the capital campaign project. The museum board and the Town of Oyster Bay, with the help of a grant from the Main Street Association, are creating a museum campus to better educate the public on the many stories the house has to tell; and to add to the critical mass that makes Oyster Bay a destination location. She said they tried to get the Lincoln Market building in the ‘70s but it took until now for all the pieces in the puzzle to come together in what will be an education center. She credited those women whose work created the museum we know today: Sarah Delano Redman, Ethel Roosevelt Derby and Bertha Rose among others.
Honoree John Bonifacio, Main Street Association of Oyster Bay president, is also on the board of the Friends of Raynham Hall. He said, “It’s nice wearing the two hats. I believe in both missions: that we can keep the RHM vision of having an education center. It will totally add to the culture and history and attractions of the downtown, and to its vibrancy.” He added, “I am an educator; I love history.”
Meredith Maus, MSA executive director, commented that Oyster Bay groups work together and, “It’s a great atmosphere to further and initiate projects and it’s a boon to work with the Town of Oyster Bay.”
Carol Silva, Master of Ceremonies, appreciates Oyster Bay and values Raynham Hall Museum. She said of Oyster Bay, “It is a place of living history… The 26th President said it was good enough for him and it’s good enough for me.” Silva said she and Cathy Reed, her Girl Scout co-leader, took their troop for a Haunted Tour of Raynham Hall.
Silva said that in 1740 Samuel Townsend left Jericho to establish his homestead in Oyster Bay, where he owned an apple orchard and a meadow that led down to the water. “In this 117-year-old house we know that this was where the ‘good’ spy ring, the George Washington Spy Ring’s spy Robert Townsend, was from.” That gives another reason for RHM fame.
Silva added, “Thousands of fourth-graders come to visit the house to learn, among other things, that in 1861, they had the only kitchen in Oyster Bay with running water. [There were no indoor bathrooms at that time.]”
Michael Goudket, dressed in an historic Revolutionary War uniform introduced the final section of the Live Auction. He thanked the guests for their support of the museum, where his job is to take fourth-graders through the museum. “If you could see their faces as they hear of the ghosts and the Red Coats in this 22-room museum.” But he said there are school districts that can’t afford to being their students to the museum because of their tapped out budgets.
With that, auctioneer Gordie asked for donations of $1,000 to sponsor a bus, and at each response Goudket tipped his hat in thanks. The amount asked went to $500, and $250 with a request for whatever guests wanted to donate. The funds came along swiftly.
This was another great gala evening to remember with grand friends, great food, an important cause all in a welcoming location. For more information about the museum please call 516-922-6808.