Sayville’s Gilded Age Boss Architect

Isaac H. Green, Jr. was the man to call if you needed a house built around the turn of the last century on the South Shore of Long Island. As witness, just observe how many of his buildings still stand on Main Street and Brook Street in Sayville., along Middle Road, down into Oakdale and beyond. He designed churches and carriage houses as well as summer estates and farm buildings. His client list included the Vanderbilts, the Bournes, and the Cuttings. His biggest fan, however, is Connie Currie.

On today’s episode, Connie describes her almost fifty year pursuit of the life and buildings of Isaac H. Green. She started with Meadow Croft, the summer home he designed for John Ellis Roosevelt. Her research odyssey took her to Oakdale, East Hampton and all the way up to Bar Harbor, Maine as she tracked the career of Sayville’s favorite son.

Old 88. Sayville Public Library Historic Image and Notes Collection
House for Mr. JC Tappin. Architecture and Building, 1890.
Isaac Green Sayville Buildings

All research is a journey and you’ll follow Connie as she crawls through attics, spools through rivers of microfilm, and uncovers fragments of the built landscape hiding in plain sight.

Further Research

 

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Bill and Pat Colson: The Art of Living

Bill Colson was a stand-out basketball player from Sayville High School (’47). In the Korean War he served as an Air Force cryptographer until, stricken by polio, he returned to the States paralyzed from the waist down. That’s where his story begins.

1947 Sayville Basketball Team
Suffolk County News, March 7, 1947

On this episode we talk with Pat Colson about Bill and his artwork as well as their lives, together and apart. Friends since high school, Pat and Bill followed a circuitous path to happiness. Along the way we discuss the Sayville of the 1940s, Bill’s paintings, his life in a wheelchair and the challenges of keeping lions as pets.

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Peter Fox Cohalan Part II

Suffolk County Historian Peter Fox Cohalan is back in session for part two of our interview. This week we get deeper into the history of Islip, traveling all the way from the bottom of the Bay (and who really owned it) back to Islip, England and the ancestral home of the Nicoll family.

We also get Peter Fox’s insight into historic preservation at the local and regional levels as well as the unique situations that can arise on Long Island.

Finally, we’ll hear about the work of the Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation. As a board member, Peter Fox is involved in helping the Foundation support the study and preservation of New York history with a focus on Islip and Suffolk County.

Further Research

Holding Court with Peter Fox Cohalan

Peter Fox Cohalan was named Suffolk County Historian in 2012 but in many ways he’s been preparing for the role his whole life. In fact, the Cohalans and history go way back. The first Cohalan in America arrived with Lafayette during the Revolution. One branch of the family led to a Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall, another to the first Catholic priest on Long Island. In his own storied career, Peter Fox has been Islip Town Supervisor, Suffolk County Executive, and State Supreme Court Judge (one of five Cohalans -including his father-  to reach that position.)

With the historian’s eye for detail and the Irishman’s gift for storytelling, Peter Fox can discuss the Sayville of his youth as easily as the quarrels of the early Federalists. On this episode of the Project he recounts the Sayville of the 1930s and ’40s along with his father’s time as coach at the La Salle Military Academy in Oakdale.  We’ll also hear about preservation efforts he spearheaded (like the Islip Grange in Sayville) as well as his family’s connections to the unforgettable Robert David Lion Gardiner.

Join us next week for Part 2.

Further Research

Being Teddy Roosevelt

Jim Foote (l) and Theodore Roosevelt (r)
James Foote (l. Photo courtesy of James and Joni Foote). President Roosevelt (r. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

James Foote has some pretty big shoes to fill but he’s been pulling it off effortlessly for decades. Starting with a close resemblance to the 26th President of the United States and adding a passion for research, James has built a career as one of the most sought-after Theodore Roosevelt re-enactors in the country. He’s portrayed Teddy at corporate events, on river boats, at the White House, and most fittingly, at the christening of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

In this interview with Connie Currie and Chris Kretz, you’ll hear how James approaches his role, the research he’s undertaken, and how he’s learned to handle everything from hecklers to heart attacks. We also discuss Theodore Roosevelt’s life, his connections to Long Island, and his enduring place in the American memory. Running time 47:43.

And mark your calendars! On Sunday, July 12th, 2015, Sagamore Hill will reopen to the public after a major three-year renovation project. James Foote will be part of the celebration at “the Summer White House” in Oyster Bay.

Further Research:

Sayville Musical Workshop

Tove Hasselriis Abrams was there at the beginning, four-and-a-half years old and watching her mother Karen perform in H.M.S. Pinafore at the old Sayville High School on Greene Avenue. That first group of performers went on to found the Sayville Musical Workshop.  Tove soon joined in, starring as Gretel in Humperdinck’s opera of Hansel and Gretel. After a break for college and work, she returned to catch the eye of and marry Steve Abrams, the Workshop’s pianist.

One of the first community theaters in the country, the Sayville Musical Workshop produced musicals, dramas, and operettas until 1985. There’s a lot of theater lore in this interview, including the major impact Rodgers and Hammerstein had on community theater , Troy Donohue and Brian Dennehy’s time with the Workshop, and the role of community theaters in the post-World War II era.

Tove Abrams
Tove Abrams. (Photo courtesy of Tove Abrams)

Further Research

The Jaunty Major-General

His full name was about as long and storied as his career: Philippe Regis Denis de Keredern de Trobriand. He was a Baron, a novelist, a painter, a gardener,  a member of the Garde Lafayette (Fifty-fifth New York), a hero of Gettysburg, and summertime resident of Bayport.

Historian George Munkenbeck (Co. H, 14th Brooklyn) recaps the fascinating life of this “soldier’s soldier”, including his time in the Dakota Territory and his marriage to New York heiress Mary Mason-Jones.

Major-General Regis de Trobirand
Major-General Regis de Trobriand Courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-DIG-cwpb-06299

 

 

Major-General Trobriand is buried in Union Cemetery in Sayville, NY.
Major-General Trobriand is buried in Union Cemetery in Sayville, NY.

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