May 21, 2021
The group of men in this image are all working together to work a pumper at the Poggatticut Hotel fire on Shelter Island. The hotel which overlooked the North Ferry, had several names over the years, Manhansett House being the most popular of its names. In 1922, the upper reaches of the building caught fire. The fire was so large, that the Greenport Fire Department brought over three pumpers and men to help fight the flames. Many of the guest rooms were ruined either by the fire or by the water pumped to stop the conflagration.
May 14, 2021
Southold 1909, E. Belcher Hyde Map
Sometimes it is surprising when a road is missing on a map. If you look at this image, notice that Traveler Street (spelled with two Ls) ends at Beckwith Avenue. The roadway was only extended in 1970 – as a way to relieve summer traffic woes.
May 7, 2021
1961 Southold Town Clerk’s Office
At one point, the town offices were located in multiple buildings across Southold town. This building was originally built in 1871 as the Presbyterian Chapel on the Main Road in Southold. In the 1960s, it was the Southold Town Clerk’s office. The building was moved around the time when the Southold Town Hall was built (circa 1976). It is now situated on Travelers Street, east of Southold Post Office.
APRIL 23, 2021
In 1937, Phil Weckesser’s Gas Station, Store, and Tavern was located on the North Side of Main Rd. in Southold. The site sold Gulf gasoline, candy, and Breyer’s ice cream. On the right was Phil’s tavern. The Tavern later moved across the street to the corner of Main and Hobart. Today, delis occupy both of these locations.
APRIL 16, 2021
This is a photograph of two artists, William Ritschel (1864-1949) and Orlando Rouland, A.N. A. (1871-1945). In the summer of 1899, they decided that it would be a novel adventure to live on the wreck of the barge Escort. The wreck was just west of Goldsmith Inlet on the shores of the Long Island Sound in Peconic. Even though the wreck was tilted over on one side, the artists still managed to live and paint on it, as well as host local artists for social gatherings.
APRIL 9, 2021
Are there still some that recall the Cutchogue Railroad Station? This photo from 1937 shows the second station house to serve Cutchogue. In 1962, the station and stop were decommissioned by the Long Island Rail Road due to dwindling ridership.
APRIL 2, 2021
This interior photo of the First Presbyterian Church of Southold shows a sanctuary that looks somewhat different than today. In the late 1800s, the church had an impressive pipe organ in the front of the sanctuary. The First Presbyterian Church of Southold was not the only church to have this layout. Orient Congregational Church and Orient Methodist Church also had their pipe organs in the front of the church during this time period. The idea was that music was such an integral part of the service that its creation should be “showcased” in the sanctuary during the service.
March 26, 2021
John Holland (1840-1914) is considered by many to be the father of the modern submarine. While he lived and worked in New Jersey, Holland established a workshop in New Suffolk to test his inventions.
In this circa 1900 photo by Fred Strickland, Percy Tuthill stands next to one of Holland’s submarines along the shoreline of Peconic Bay.
March 19, 2021
This black and white photo by Charles Corey was taken between 1880 and 1910 at the Southold Train depot. Workers are unloading barrels of cauliflower from the wagons onto the station platform. The barrels are heading to New York City markets.
March 12, 2021
March is Women’s History Month!
Did you know that the women's suffrage movement was a decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States. It took activists and reformers 80+ years to win that right.
At a time when suffragists were viewed as "Radicals" by some, and thought to alienate many American women, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was considered a more traditional and modest organization for women to join at the time. After 1891, the WCTU adopted women’s right to vote as part of their platform. The thought was that the right to vote could help them achieve their temperance agenda. The Southold WCTU petitioned their congressman to support bills in accordance with their movement.
Passed by Congress June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote.
Ella Boldry Hallock, the mother of Southold Historical Society’s founder Ann Currie-Bell, was a member of Southold WCTU.
March 4, 2021
Some of the 19th-century elections would be considered as rough and tumble as our more recent elections. This political cartoon in our collection is a local copy of one by Edward W. Clay entitled Notice to Quit, March 4th 1841.
The image is of the eviction of Martin Van Buren from the White House by his Presidential successor William Henry Harrison. Harrison is perhaps most well-known for spending the shortest amount of time in office. He spent one month as President before dying of pneumonia.
February 26, 2021
1936, Mattituck Mill and Iron Swivel Bridge
Built in 1821, the Mattituck mill served the farmers in the area for eighty-four years. When its long time miller, Joshua Terry, died in 1905, the mill was soon converted into a bar and restaurant by Otto Mandefrau, who also started encouraging customers to sign their names on the beams and shingles inside the building.
February 19, 2021
November 15, 1955
This photo is of Southold Savings Bank before the extension was added to the back of the building. The bank built this building and moved into it in 1928. The bank’s first floor was one wide open room with the safe and a horseshoe counter in the center of the room. The back of the building had a partial second floor with a meeting room for the Trustees.
February 12, 2021
Helen Kroeger (1892-1986)
Helen Kroeger was a part of Caroline (“Dolly”) Bell’s merry band of friends and artists who crisscrossed the North Fork seeking ever more beautiful vistas for their plein air painting excursions. One can only begin to imagine the painting, critiquing and picnicking that took place on these artistic adventures.
Helen Kroeger was born in New York City, where she first trained as a schoolteacher. She then studied at the venerable Art Student’s League, under the guidance of such important painters as George Grosz and Frank Vincent du Monde. Kroeger, who is sometimes classified as a “Peconic Impressionist,” actually painted in a broad range of styles, from traditional landscapes to an almost expressionistic paintings, always with a light and elegant touch paired with a keen and discerning eye. Like many of her peers, she painted landscapes in Pennsylvania and seascapes in Gloucester, Massachusetts. She began visiting and painting on the North Fork in the 1930’s.
In New York, in the early in the 1940’s, she met Otto Kurth, a successful, Munich-born illustrator and painter of maritime scenes. Kurth was married and never divorced, but moved to Mattituck with Helen Kroeger permanently in the 1960’s. They built a life and a home and a studio, known as “The Anchorage” there. They became an intrinsic part of the artists’ community on the North Fork. Helen became especially close to Caroline Bell, who lived nearby in Mattituck.
When Kurth’s wife Julia died in 1965, he and Helen finally married. Tragically, he died just a few weeks after they wed.
Helen Kroeger was listed in the Blue Book of American Painters and showed her work frequently at both the Old Town Arts and Crafts Guild and the Little Gallery in Mattituck She also exhibited her work at other important venues, including the Museums at Stony Brook (today’s Long Island Museum) and the Guild Hall in East Hampton and at other venues across Long Island. She continued to teach and paint in Mattituck until her death in 1986.
February 5, 2021
While searching in a drawer for something else, this very interesting poster popped up.
In 1852, the LIRR ran a special train to bring people from the East End of Long Island into New York City to see the Fair of the American Institute, which some consider a precursor to the World’s Fair and to see the Cattle, Horse and Pig Show. The Fair of the American Institute took place at Castle Garden at The Battery (today known as Castle Clinton National Monument), and the Cattle, Horse and Pig Show was held at Madison Cottage which soon after became the site of Franconi’s Hippodrome and later the Fifth Avenue Hotel.
The train left Greenport at 9 A.M. on October 21st. The return ride was at 9 A.M October 22 or 3:45 P.M. October 23. The cost for the round trip into the city set riders back $1.00 in 1852. Wow!
January 29, 2021
Summer 1961 - Southold Town Beach
The small white building at the edge of the parking lot is Jack’s Shack, known for providing snacks and burgers to hungry beach goers. Not only has Jack’s Shack disappeared, but a good portion of the shoreline in the background is also now gone.
January 22, 2021
Greenport Theatre Poster, 1941
While television existed, the theater was still the place people went to see the latest films from Hollywood. If you stopped in at Greenport Theatre sometime during March or April 1941, you could have seen one of the following shows:
Footsteps in the Dark – a respected investment advisor (Errol Flynn) has a double life as a mystery writer and ends up investigating the murder of a client.
So Ends our Night – Three German refugees (Frederick March, Margaret Sullavan, and Glenn Ford) from the war who are hiding, fearing deportation from the U.S.
Land of Liberty – a 1939 documentary that traces the history of the United States.
Blondie Plays Cupid – 1940 comedy based on the cartoon character Blondie and Dagwood, played by Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake. In the film (one of 28 made) Blondie meets a couple (Charlie and Millie) who need her help to elope.
January 15, 2021
Four-mule Wagon at Camp Wikoff
Have you ever heard of Camp Wikoff in Montauk? Following the Spanish-American War, soldiers were sent to quarantine and convalesce at Camp Wikoff before rejoining the civilian population. The remote location was considered to be ideal to isolate these men. Unfortunately, the camp conditions became somewhat controversial at the time, but local residents from East Hampton came to the aid as nurses.
Frank K. Hartley, a photographer of Greenport, made a trip out to Camp Wikoff. This photo, which he took of the Four-Mule Wagon, is part of the collection of Southold Historical Society. It sure makes you realize how far military vehicles have come since 1898!
January 8, 2021
Did you know that the first photographs were taken 30 years before the American Civil War? It wasn’t until the war that the medium was popularized in the United States.
In 1839, Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype to an interested audience in Paris. Henry Fitz, Jr. was one of the people who attended Daguerre’s lecture. Intrigued by the phenomenon of capturing images from life, Fitz brought the technology back to the United States and began experimenting.
This image is a copy of one of the first photographs ever taken in the United States. The subject is Henry Fitz, Jr. himself! The original daguerreotype is now in the Smithsonian, but Southold Historical Society has copies of Fitz’s early images of himself and his family.
December 18, 2020
This is a program from a 1916 play “Esmeralda” that was performed at Belmont Hall in Southold. Belmont Hall, which was the twin of the building that currently houses Academy Printing, stood on the plot of land across from today’s Southold Free Library. Currently, the space is occupied by a town parking lot. At the turn of the century, Belmont Hall was Southold’s Lyceum, a place where people could come to hear lectures as well as to see plays and musicals. The Lyceum movement ended around the Great Depression.
It is fascinating to examine the businesses that supported the program. How many do you recognize? In 1916, the Bank of Southold stood across the street from Belmont Hall and the Southold Hotel stood on the northwest corner of Youngs and the Main Road.
December 11, 2020
Can you guess what this artifact might be used for?
It’s a sausage stuffer. You would grind the meat, blend it, and use this device to stuff it into the sausage casings. Do you stuff your sausages today? Most of us do not, but I bet those that do have a more modern utensil (like maybe a stand mixer attachment).
December 4, 2020
This stylish 1910 ladies coat has a specialized purpose - it’s a duster. Dusters were developed for use in cars, in the days before roads were paved and before cars were enclosed! The coat, which is very light-weight, was created to keep the dust off of ladies clothes as they rode in the newest transportation technology. This particular duster belonged to Anna Billard Wells.
November 18, 2020
New York began requiring dog owners to get a yearly permit in 1894. Dog licenses came in a variety of shapes, from butterflies (as pictured here) to circles, crosses, or hearts. This dog license from Southold was issued in 1908.
November 11, 2020
When this first came into the historical society we said - what in the world is it? Turns out this was used to sew closed bags of potatoes on the Jenning’s farm in Southold.
Unfortunately, we know what is does but not what it is called. So, we have tentatively decided to name it as a Potato Baler. If you have a more precise name for it please let us know!
November 4, 2020
Before 1862, the US government was not the only organization printing currency! Any organization could print money and circulate it. Prior to the Civil War, local banks and even hometown businesses would print and distribute their own money. Citizens regularly checked their local newspapers to find out the current “value” of the bills before using them. This five dollar bill was printed in 1853 by the Cochituate Bank of Boston, MA. The bank was incorporated in 1849, but failed in 1854. It was used locally. This bill possibly survived because the bank went out of business a year after it was printed and could no longer be redeemed. The last owner of the bill, who lived in Southold, had no way to pass it along or redeem it and probably tucked it away in hopes that it would someday be of use.
October 30, 2020
The title of this photo is, “Harvesting Wheat”, 1946. It brings to mind how fast technology has changed our lives. Today, this harvest would be baled by the harvesting machines and neatly stacked on the trucks.
Unfortunately, the trucks are a little too far away to identify the farm. But this photo, taken by Charles Meredith, is quintessential “North Fork”.
October 23, 2020
Late last year, two cardboard fruit baskets were donated to the Historical Society for the collection. The baskets are wonderful local representations of the farming aspects of Southold. Unfortunately, we have been unable to find any information on D & B Fruit Farms of Southold. If you know anything about this farm, give us a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 16, 2020
A Famous Family Visits…
Sometimes people contact the Historical Society to let us know they have something related to our history but are not yet ready to donate. Last year, we were contacted by a former camper at Pinecrest Dunes. He sent the picture that you see above… It took a couple of months, but happily he decided to send us the notecard the image was on! For those too young to recognize the family, the Munsters were a popular TV sitcom about a wholesome family of “monsters” that while unusual in appearance, were in behavior the typical American family. The show ran from 1964-1966. The show starred Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, and Pat Priest.
Apparently, Pinecrest Dunes in the 1960s had a “visit” from the famous family. The camp vehicle was pressed into service. Camp counselors and Dave Struber, our donor, who was selected to be Eddie Munster, were put into costume and then the “family” hopped into the car and not only visited the camp but also toured Southold!
October 9, 2020
Photo: Sunrise Hotel, Southold 1949.
Although the door has been moved and there have been some changes to the façade, this building is fairly recognizable. It is the current North Fork Table and Inn. After its time as the Sunrise Hotel, this second empire building became the Southold Inn. The owner Dom Zito sold it in 1975 to Robert and Christine Hascoat who turned it into La Gazelle. It then became Coeur Des Vignes owned by George, Donna Marie and Arie Pavlou. In most recent years, the building has been owned by and operated as the popular North Fork Table and Inn.
October 2, 2020
Wendy Prellwitz (1950--)
More than a century separates the painter Wendy Prellwitz from her great-grandparents, artists Henry and Edith Mitchill Prellwitz, who were key among the founders of the “Peconic School.” Wendy works in their studios in Peconic and lives in High House, the home they once shared, high on a bluff overlooking Great Peconic Bay. One can easily sense that she feels informed and inspired by them both. Like her forbearers, Peconic is the place where she continues to evolve as an artist. Thanks to a careful typescript written by her grandfather, Edwin Prellwitz, we today know of the comings and goings of many of the original artists who settled on the North Fork.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Wendy painted and drew constantly. She attended Rhode Island School of Design and went on to become an architect in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Yet somehow the art of her great-grandparents and the lure of Peconic were always in her mind. She and her father, retired engineer Sam Prellwitz, realized that the studios housed an unknown treasure-trove of paintings by Henry and Edith. Wendy promoted the “discovery,” resulting in exhibits of these previously hidden works, at The Museums at Stony Brook and the Spanierman Gallery in NYC.
Wendy Prellwitz paints outdoors and in Henry’s studio, inspired by her great-grandparents’ palettes and visions. Not content to record just what she sees, Wendy is constantly thinking about the qualities of light and hue, of movement and of stillness. Inevitably, many of Henry and Edith’s subjects — docks, boats, fields, and the area’s unique light — are echoed in her work. Yet Wendy is a thoroughly modern artist, creating strong and expressive landscapes that reach toward abstraction. Water is a preoccupation. She reveres “its impermanence yet endurance ... the sea’s cyclical certainty of rise and fall, and the vast, boundless quality of an infinite beyond.”
As an active and innovative printmaker, Wendy is always experimenting, often applying printmaking techniques to her paintings. For Wendy Prellwitz, making art yields a sense of discovery, “that wonderful sense of surprise.”
Scientists have not yet discovered the gene for art making, but clearly it’s in Wendy Prellwitz’s DNA. She notes, “In Peconic, I wake up to golden dawn light spilling over the bay into my bedroom, and walk on the beach in the morning, soaking in the atmosphere and light effects. Feeling the sun on my skin, watching the waves, ripples, and tide turning, noticing the reflections of clouds — every day is different.”
September 25, 2020
Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door…
The history of mechanical mousetraps appears to start after the Civil War. This multi directional mousetrap takes the guesswork out of which way to place the trap. Don’t ask us how it works – we have never tried to set it.
September 18, 2020
If you have ever visited the Reichert Family Barn at the Southold Historical Society Museum Complex, you might have noticed this barrel sitting quietly in the corner of the annex. Unassuming in appearance, the barrel is reputed to be one of the earliest items in the collection. According to the records of the Society, Daniel Horton who donated the barrel in 1960, stated that the family believed the barrel was used by Barnabas Horton during his journey from England to the New World.
September 11, 2020
A challenge to our regulars! Do you recognize this room? Do you know the furniture?
Although the room has changed some over the years, this is indeed the parlor of the Ann Currie-Bell house. Today, the chair and settee have beige upholstery. Now does it look familiar?
Notice the stained glass window on the west wall. We had thought a couple of years ago about reproducing the window that appears in the photo, but alas it was too much money! Perhaps one day?
September 4, 2020
Have you ever driven down the North Road and wondered what it looked like before it was widened? Or where the original road was?
This 1965 photograph in our collection answers both questions. Looking east, the two lane paved road is what later became the west bound lanes of today’s four lane divided highway.
The red barn on the right side of the photo still stands, but the old Wickham house that once stood in front of it was moved to the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council before the road was widened. Also interesting to note is that the road was not Route 48 at that time. It was called Route 27!
August 28, 2020
When was the last time any of us got together for a beach picnic like this!
This photo, circa 1935, depicts a picnic feast at the beach up in Peconic Inlet. Joseph Hallock is on the left in the chair with a fedora; Tom Currie-Bell is next to him; and Ann Currie-Bell is just in front of them with the stocking cap. Also, pictured are Genevieve Albertson, Ethel Dickerson and Adelaide Hill. This looks like a wonderful day out - with dessert on the menu!
August 21, 2020
This photo depicts Main Road Southold, circa 1890. Note how quiet the corner of Youngs Avenue and Main Road is! The Southold Hotel is in the foreground. Next door is the Henry W. Prince family house, and just west of that is his brick store that the Historical Society currently occupies.
August 14, 2020
Irving Ramsey Wiles (1861-1948) was one of the most important American Impressionists and portrait painters of his day. Art was in his DNA; his father, Lemuel Maynard Wiles, was also a widely acclaimed and exhibited artist.
Wiles was born in Utica, New York. He first came to the North Fork at the invitation of Edward August Bell, who was instrumental in starting what was to become the Peconic School, a loosely associated group of important painters who fell in love with our area’s bays, creeks, and Sound-front, our harbors and fields and woodlands. Like the many painters who followed the original group, Wiles was enchanted by the North Fork’s ever-changing light, as it sweeps from Sound to Bay.
His life as an artist began as a student of William Merritt Chase, with whom Wiles began to study when he was a boy of twelve. At New York City’s Art Students League, he studied with such important artists as Thomas Dewing. Later, he studied in Paris with none other the Carolus-Duran, the teacher and mentor of John Singer Sargent.
Starting in 1895, along with his father, Wiles began a summer painting school in Peconic. The Old Mill at Goldsmith Inlet was a favorite spot for the Wiles and their students to paint.
After staying in varying hamlets on the North Fork, Wiles bought a 10-acre bay-front stretch along Indian Neck, where he built a cottage and several studio buildings. There, he and his father continued to paint and to teach. He also taught at the Art Students League and the National Academy, of which he was an important member.
He painted society portraits, portraits of important politicians and of major performing artists. But it is for his beautiful, contemplative landscapes, domestic scenes and maritime paintings, especially of scallop boats, that Wiles is best remembered today.
Wiles had one enormous and tragic flaw: When it came to money, he was hopelessly profligate. He died penniless, supported by his daughter, the artist Gladys Lee Wiles, in Peconic, in 1948.
August 7, 2020
Yes, the color of the photo is actually blue! This is a cynotype of one of the three fire departments that once protected Southold hamlet from fire. The Protection Engine Company’s fire station stood on Beckwith Avenue. The second floor of the building was a meeting room
The fire company moved out in 1937, when the three fire departments consolidated together to form the Southold Fire Department and their new brick building across from Maple Lane was completed. The Beckwith station still stands minus its tower on the corner of Beckwith and Travelers Street.
July 31, 2020
Here is a photograph of the Southold Town School District #7 (Peconic) School bus from 1937.
Pictures of workhorse vehicles such as this school bus are rare. If anyone remembers the Southold Town School bus, please let us know what color it was.
July 24, 2020
Caroline Bell (1874-1970) known as “Dolly,” was a North Fork hunter/gatherer. She hunted beautiful outdoor vistas to paint and gathered a like-minded group of students and artists to accompany her on her adventures.
Born into a renowned family of studio photographers, Bell’s family moved around a lot and lived mostly in hotels. Childhood summers were often spent in Mattituck. After her mother died in 1907, Bell moved to Mattituck, where she eventually built a home and studio.
Initially self-taught, she studied painting with Edward August Bell and Whitney Hubbard. Later, she became associated with painters in Rockport and Gloucester in Massachusetts, studying with Emile Gruppe and Anthony Thieme.
As a teacher, Bell never charged for lessons, living on family money and sales from her work. She would determine a North Fork spot to paint, and then place each student at what she felt was an ideal vantage point. She exhibited widely on Long Island, in New England and in New York City, and was a member of many prominent art associations.
Caroline Bell was strongly drawn painting to boats and boatmen, and it is for these works that she is most remembered. She traveled widely, but always returned home to her beloved Mattituck.
July 17, 2020
Not many remember this fairytale looking house when it originally sat at the end of Maple Lane in Southold. Nicknamed Wormwood Hall, it was called Rosemary by the William Joost family that owned the house.
When the family began summering here from Brooklyn in 1895, they purchased the S.B. Terry property, subdivided, and sold most of the land to the Bliss family. The section they kept had a small cottage which they enlarged and turned into the fairytale building you see here in 1908. The home was later floated by barge to Bayshore Road in Greenport where it remains today.
July 10, 2020
This photograph depicts the East Marion-Orient Causeway, in 1961, before the seawall was built.
In the foreground the waves have cut away enough of the land that the utility pole is in danger of collapse. Lester Albertson, the Town Supervisor at the time, requested the concerning area be photographed. The barrier and wall were installed along most of the length of the causeway to hold back the erosion.
July 6, 2020
Thomas Currie-Bell (1873-1946) was the husband of Southold Historical Society’s benefactor and founder, Ann Currie-Bell. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and studied there at the Royal Scottish Academy and in London at the Royal Academy of Art, where he specialized in portraiture.
He met Ann Hallock in France in 1928. He was there painting, and she was traveling with her parents. The following year, he came to Southold, and they were married. He built a studio filled with windows and skylights on Hallock family property at Paradise Point. As both a painter and a magazine illustrator, he met with considerable success and exhibited widely, both in Europe and throughout the U.S. Ann and Tom wintered in Florida, where his work was included in many art exhibits. His passion was racing his boat, the “Bluebell,” leading to his local nickname, “the Skipper.” Ann and Tom Currie-Bell had no children. But she was deeply committed to the history of Southold. She was both visionary and generous, leaving her charming Victorian home, its contents, and its adjacent property to create and endow the Southold Historical Society. The house and its property, along with Tom’s paintings in our collection, are her important and enduring legacy in our town.
July 4, 2020
The United States flag with 13 stars and 13 stripes was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 and was used until 1795 when Kentucky and Vermont became states. This flag was found by the Latson family in their grandparent's Southold home and donated to the Society in 2009.
June 26, 2020
People love souvenirs and stores love to sell them to visitors! We are not too sure of how popular this item might have been used as a souvenir in 1900. But, this very pretty glass bathtub has printed along its side, "Souvenir of Southold, LI NY". It may have been used as a holder for items like toothpicks or matches.
June 19, 2020
Steam-motor sailor, Saratoga
by Antonio Jacobsen
This handsome painting that hangs in the Horton Point Lighthouse shows an odd hybrid ship that was built during the turn of the century. Half sailing ship and half steam ship, the Saratoga was built in 1907 in Philadelphia. The ship had a steam screw propulsion system, whose engine had an estimated 5000 horsepower. It was 413 feet long and 50 feet wide. The ship’s gross tonnage was 6,391 pounds. The ship was an immigrant ship and ran between Havana, Cuba, and Ellis Island in New York. She had a crew of 138 sailors.
June 15, 2020
Joseph Beckwith Hartranft (1890-1982), affectionately known as “Uncle Joe,” was a familiar fixture in and around Southold. He was the son of Joseph Hartranft, the area’s beloved country doctor, and the grandson of sea captain Sherburne Beckwith. Their house, the Beckwith-Stevens house, still stands at the corner of Main Street and Beckwith Avenue.
After he retired as a paint company executive in the 1940’s, he set up a studio in town, where he painted prolifically. It is estimated that he made some 2000 works in an impressionist style, both in town and all over the North Fork.
June 11, 2020
This odd stick is the Little-Wonder Vacuum Cleaner made by the Beck Manufacturing Company of New York and West Haven Connecticut. This was one of the many new labor saving devices that came onto the market around 1900. To make it work, you had to grasp the wooden handle at the top and pump it in and out of the tube to create the suction to vacuum. This vacuum came from the Willsway house on Hobart Street in Southold. We feel exhausted at the thought of anyone even trying to clean with the Little-Wonder.
June 8, 2020
Henry Prellwitz (1865-1940) was the son of Prussian immigrants who kept a cigar store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He attended City College and then the Art Students League, where he studied with such important artists as Thomas Dewing and Robert Reid.
He traveled widely throughout Europe, spending time at Monet’s Giverny with a host of other visiting artists. After moving to Peconic with his wife, the artist Edith Mitchill Prellwitz in 1911, Henry Prellwitz painted in a variety of styles, including impressionism and tonalism. He painted landscapes and seascapes, and was especially drawn to the winding roads and byways of the North Fork. Like Edith, he was the endlessly dazzled by the play of sunlight and moonlight on the bay that stretched before their home, High House. His works are in major museums and collections. As Treasurer of the National Academy, he saved it from insolvency when, a few months prior to the Crash of October 1929, he converted their assets to gold. Ronald Pisano, who was the first scholar to recognize “The Peconic School,” noted that Henry and Edith Prellwitz were “one of the best-kept secrets in art history.”
June 4, 2020
This unassuming punch bowl which has been displayed in the Thomas Moore/Samuel Landon house for many years has a very interesting note attached to its record.
According to the donors, the bowl is a Lowestoft Chinese bowl from the 1700s. It was used by Captain James Fanning and some members of Wickham family during the American Revolution to drink a toast after giving their allegiance to the King.
Can the story be proven… sadly no, but the story and to some extent the bowl does represent the divided loyalties that existed in Southold during the war.
May 28, 2020
Traveling salesmen sold blue panes of glass to the rural population as a cure-all for diseases, broken legs, tuberculosis, and any malaise you might dream up. The sun filtered through the colored glass to the patient on the bed and supposedly killed all germs and stopped infection! This pane which has been installed in the master bedroom at the Ann Currie Bell house was used by Mrs. David Austin Horton, Bay View, Southold.
May 26, 2020
Edith Mitchill Prellwitz (1864-1944) wasn’t playing hard-to-get when she refused Henry Prellwitz’s entreaties to marry her. She had studied at the Art Student’s League in New York City with such luminaries such as William Merrit Chase, and at the Academie Julien in Paris. A woman of her time, she felt she could not fulfill the roles of both wife and of artist—and artist came first. She wrote, “I will not be a dabbler. I cannot and care not to marry. I would rather die than live long in this humdrum way.”
But persistence was Henry’s long suite and he eventually persuaded her to marry him, promising always to honor her as an artist.
In 1911, driving east, they spotted an old farmhouse that was due for demolition. They had it taken apart, barged and rebuilt on Indian Neck in Peconic, near the summer homes of their good friends, artists Irving Wiles and Edward August Bell. “High House” sits on a cliff overlooking the vast expanse of Peconic Bay. Henry built twin “His and Hers” studios adjacent to the main house, and always kept his promise.
Edith, who was one of the most important American painters of her time, holds the honor of being the first woman ever to be chosen as a member of the National Academy. She founded the Woman’s Art Club, which later became the National Association of Women Artists. Both Edith and Henry Prellwitz painted in a variety of media and created works with varied subject matter, landscapes, seascapes, marine paintings and allegories. Their works hang in major collections including the Metropolitan Museum. Their great-grandaughter, artist Wendy Prellwitz, lives in High House and paints in their studios.
May 21, 2020
This is a photo of the Albertson livery in Southold with Corey Albertson, Harry Howell, and Clinton Carrole holding two horses in front of the barn. Writing on the back of the photo identifies the barn as the Corey Barn (now gone). The barn originally stood on the east side of Youngs Avenue at the intersection of Youngs Avenue and Travelers Street.
May 18, 2020
Whitney Myron Hubbard (1875-1965) was a familiar sight in and around Greenport. From the time his father moved the family from Connecticut to the Village, he left only to attend Wesleyan University and later, classes at New York City’s Art Students’ League. After teaching school in Greenport for several years, Hubbard declared himself an artist, and became an incredibly prolific one. The Village and its surrounding fields and woods, shorelines and harbors, were his world. He painted in watercolor, oils, tempera and drew with pastels and experimented in a range of styles, including Pointillism, Impressionism and realism. Sailboats, fishing boats and schooners were favorite subjects, as were portraits of his beloved wife, Ruth, often painted in their beautiful English-style garden.
Money was never plentiful in the Hubbard household. Hubbard taught outdoor classes, charging a mere $3.00 a class. Many of his pictures are small in format, because he often was unable to buy canvases or canvas boards, and resorted to painting on cigar or candy boxes. He sometimes bartered his paintings, or sold them for a pittance. Ruth supplemented their income by giving voice and piano lessons. During his long lifetime, his works were exhibited widely. They are included in collections all over the country and in libraries, historical societies, museums and private collections throughout Long Island. Southold Historical Society owns many of his works.
May 14, 2020
Can you help us identify where this photo was taken?
The description we have of the photo “the Elwood Garage area, looking west.” Two sets of gas pumps, Sinclair and Socony, are identifiable in the photo as well as Elwood Garage. Across the street is Fischer's garage.
We would love to expand the description. Please share what you know and remember. Perhaps you might even have another photo of the garage you’d like to share?
May 7, 2020
“Whiskey in the Jar”
If you read the box carefully you will see that this bottle of whiskey was for medicinal use only! That’s because during Prohibition, if your doctor determined that bending the elbow was necessary for your health, you could get a prescription for whiskey!
The government limited the number of prescriptions for this ‘cure’ that a doctor could write and carefully oversaw the production of medicinal whiskey. The punch line in old movies as a person takes a drink and says, “it’s for my health” had a different meaning for people during the Prohibition.
April 30, 2020
An odd item in the collection of Southold Historical Society is this fraternal ribbon for the Foresters of America. The red, white, and blue striped ribbon has a brass metal frame and pin, holding a round multicolored medallion with the symbol of the F. of A. This was a typical ribbon given to members when they joined or attended conferences of the organization. The pin has a red satin underlying ribbon with "Court Yennicock, NO. 495, F. of A., Southold, N. Y."
The organization can be traced to a British club whose mission was to care for the sick. The American version of the group became independent from the UK Foresters in 1874. In the United States, the group was one of the leading fraternal benefit societies. At its height in 1906, the membership tipped just over a quarter of a million.
While Court Yennicock, F. of A. no longer exists in Southold, the larger parent group still operates out of Toronto, Canada.
April 23, 2020
Southold Historical Society discussed the changes in agriculture and the prominence of vineyards, question arose about what we collect? When does something become historic? What about contemporary artifacts? How do we decided what is significant?
Southold Historical Society decided that vineyards and wineries are very much a part of our contemporary history and artifacts related to them are worthy of collecting. But what artifacts can we collect from the vineyard farming and wineries? Unfortunately, much of the equipment used to cultivate grapes and make wine is enormous. As we found out with our antique farm tool collection, we simple do not have enough room to store large items.
What we can collect are small artifacts, like vintage bottles of wine. This is an autographed bottle from the first year of Hargrave Vineyard.
April 17, 2020
Like maps, aerial photos can be intriguing. As time goes by and development inevitably takes place, it is fascinating to look at old photos for landmarks and see the changes that have occurred. Years ago, the late Donald Tuthill, flew overhead in his airplane and used his camera to capture this view of the largely undeveloped land. The photo is of the intersection of Boisseau Avenue and the North Road, which at the time was known as Route 27. While the view may look different now, those who have lived in and visited our area for many years can still see this landscape in their mind's eye.
April 9, 2020
When we began writing a description for this photo, the idea was to compare the small size of this IGA grocery store to the significantly larger sizes of grocery stores today. In this photo, you can see there are just three aisles for shoppers to browse. Signs in the windows that advertise fryers for 27 cents a pound and Campbell's soup for 10 cents a can!
April 2, 2020
The building dates back to pre-1858. Southold Historical Society is proud to be stewards of the Bayview School house.
Do you recognize this farm building? With the front door enlarged – it can be hard to identify the Bayview School house in this photo. The school was closed in 1926. Like so many other buildings in the town, instead of being demolished, it was reused. In this case, the structure became a machine shop on the Dickerson family farm. In 1990, the family gave the building to the town as a monument for the 350th anniversary. It was moved to the Historical Society in 1990 and is now used to teach the educational history of Southold.
March 27, 2020
It is always amazing how far items from Southold wander across the country. Take for example this pennant. It was made between 1900 -1920. This type of flag was sold or given to high school students as a school spirit item. It’s not an item that you would expect to wander too far from the area.
We received a call from a gentleman who told us that he bought an auction lot and found the pennant included in the box. When he sent the pennant to us, we found that he was from Brownsburg, Indiana!