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Editorial: Witnessing History On Exhibit

Happy Birthday to the Oyster Bay Historical Society. Having always loved museums, books and history, it is easy to see that it is one of our favorite places. Philip Blocklyn, OBHS executive director said he was told by Barry Curtis Spies that the current society was formed on St. Patrick’s Day in 1960. It became incorporated on June 26, 1960 – therefore the birthday wishes — just two days late.

Mr. Blocklyn said this is the third OBHS. The first one was formed by D. Harris Underhill, the next by Cornell Mulford and then, when that incorporation expired, the current group was formed. The OBHS currently has books from Mr. Mulford’s era that were donated to the Oyster Bay Public Library which turned them over to the current group after it was formed.

Coming up at the OBHS is a new exhibit, “Witness Trees.” It is the OBHS summer exhibition, and is being done in partnership with Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (SHNHS) and will be on view from July 15 to August 19. The opening reception is on Sunday, July 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Koenig Center, tucked into the rear yard at 20 Summit Street in Oyster Bay. The lovely garden area with tall old growth trees makes for a perfect reception setting.

We are looking forward to seeing the exhibit as it includes items we have already seen at SHNHS’s original exhibit in April of 2011, but will have more artworks created by 19 Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) students using wood reclaimed from trees on four National Historic Sites, including Sagamore Hill.

The Witness Trees Project was originally developed as a partnership between Dale Broholm and David Cavicchi of RISD and Louis Hutchins, a National Park Service historian, from the concept of ancient trees on historic sites as “witnesses” to American History. Such trees, at the end of their lives, become the substance of works of art that reflect on and interpret the history of the sites on which they grew. In addition to Sagamore Hill, the contributing sites include Hampton Plantation in Maryland, The George Washington Birthplace in Virginia, and Frederic Law Olmstead site in Massachusetts.

“Witness Trees,” curated by Christine Temin, appeared at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center this spring before traveling to Oyster Bay for the summer.

We found the original exhibit at SHNHS very creative. The students crafted original pieces of art that reflect history, which adds another layer of richness to the work. We hope you will plan to attend.

Philip Blocklyn, OBHS executive director said they will be having a series of events related to Theodore Roosevelt in the coming months. We are looking forward to attending them. There is always something wonderful to learn about TR and the world at large at them.

Summer is starting off with a bang, as the past week demonstrated. The Friends of the Bay held their annual Launch the Season at Coe Hall Mansion on June 20; the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum held their annual Summer Solstice party at the Sagamore Yacht Club on June 21. On Saturday, June 23, the Life Enrichment Center held a Garden Soirée at the Garden Café in the Hay Barn at Planting Fields. On Sunday, June 24 Oyster Bay held their graduation ceremonies.

Everyone’s “dance card” is kept filled with great events. It’s great to meet and greet friends at all the occasions for celebration. It’s a great way to keep in touch and keep posted on what’s new in Oyster Bay.

Speaking of what’s new, on Tuesday, June 18 we met James Foote who informed us that he is one of the people being honored on July 10 at the Oyster Bay Historical Society’s Advocates for Historic Preservation and Education Reception and Awards on July 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Woodlands, 1 Southwoods Road, Woodbury. Several people are being honored including Thomas Abbe, Laura V. Dougherty, Brookville Village Historian and Denise Evans-Shepphard, Carll family historian, as well as Adam Grohman, marine historian, and many others.For further information on the exhibition and its opening reception, please call the Oyster Bay Historical Society at 922-5032 or visit the web site at www.oyster bayhistorical.org

We love being busy and being out and about. We hope we see you at the upcoming events. Please keep filling up our dance card.     

 –DFK