The Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society


  Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society

PO BOX 47 TEL 631.776.7640

December 8, 2010

Dear Fellow Society Members and Friends,


As incoming President of the Society, it is my pleasure to take this opportunity to describe what we have accomplished in 2010, what we plan for 2011, and what we need to do to insure the Society’s future.  As you renew your membership this holiday season, I hope that you will be able to assist the Society with the immediate challenge it faces.   I am sending this letter to our members and all our friends who have supported our activities in the past years.

The Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society Museum serves the people of the community through exhibitions, public programs, publications, and collections.  This is what we do.  We serve as the stewards of the collective memory and heritage of this remarkable area.

In so doing, this year the Society awarded the coveted Pelletreau grant to the Middle Island United Church of Christ for its work in preserving the beautiful and historically significant former Middle Island Presbyterian Church of 1837.  The Society also provided a variety of cultural and educational experiences to the community.  The activities began in May with a well-attended antiques show.  This was followed by a performance by the Greek Theater of New York on the life and work of the poet C. P. Cavafy, a three-part lecture series entitled “Great American Voices”, and a bicycle treasure hunt for children.  The Society screened two films by the documentary filmmaker, George C. Stoney, and Tom Williams of the Post-Morrow Foundation gave a presentation on the Carmans River Watershed Preservation Plan.  Finally, we dedicated the two hundred year old candelabra spruce tree on our grounds to the memory of former trustee Frank Calamita and his wife and Alyda.

This coming summer, the Society is planning a major fundraising gala event that will focus on early 20th century Bellport history through the life of Birdsall Otis Edey, an activist and benefactor.  It is she who is credited with convincing the State Legislature to have the Montauk Highway bypass Bellport, Brookhaven Hamlet, and East Patchogue by half a mile north.  The Paige family, descendants of Mrs. Edey, has generously loaned us its family archive on the Edeys.  This singular collection contains intriguing period photographs and artifacts.  Our curator will prepare an accompanying exhibit, Nearthebay and the World of Birdsall Otis Edey, for the gala.  Thanks to the generosity of Arnie Lizan and Elizabeth Tops Lizan, the current owners of the former Edey residence, Nearthebay, a tour of this magnificent historic home will be included.

Unlike most historical societies that own only an historic house, the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society is distinct in that it owns the Post-Crowell House, a museum building, and several other historic structures on a “campus” in the heart of the Village.  As wonderful as this prized distinction is, it does pose a fiscal challenge.  Our operating expenses are close to $90,000 a year.  Our fundraising events, grants, membership dues, and donations usually cover our operating expenses and routine maintenance.  They do not, however, allow us to improve our aging buildings; for that we need to raise additional funds.

The Society has recently launched a capital campaign in which we have identified and prioritized work that needs to be done to preserve our antique buildings, our capital assets. Besides seeking the support of the community for this campaign, we plan to establish additional avenues of support from corporations and will seek to increase the number of foundations with which we have a relationship.

Last year, it came to the Trustees’ attention that before issuing a certificate of occupancy for the Brown Building at 12 Bell Street, the Village requires that we install a sprinkler system.  This is the first priority needing attention.  A committee headed by our distinguished architect trustee was formed to elicit plans, get bids, and report to the Board.  The lowest bid was $65,000.  Needless to say, the report was quite a blow.  However, the Knapp/Swezey Foundation graciously offered a $10,000 matching grant if our capital campaign can raise the same amount. So far we have pledges for a total of half that amount from the Post- Morrow Foundation and two trustees.  If we can raise $5,000 more we will have met the match; raising an additional $45,000 would then enable us to do the job.

The sprinkler system and its accompanying certificate of occupancy would allow us to realize the full potential of the Brown Building by increasing our public space.  This will permit us to accommodate a larger audience for workshops and programs such as lectures, films, and other cultural events.

As you renew your membership with the enclosed envelope, I hope that you will be able to assist the Society in its first capital campaign project by renewing at the holiday gift level of $200.  If you are not currently a member please join! Make a splash by tying your new membership to our capital campaign.  Your 100% tax-deductible gift is a vote of confidence in the Society and the work that our volunteer trustees and friends do to make this vital grass roots organization viable and relevant.  If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me on my cell phone at 212-724-2286 or at

On behalf of all the trustees, I wish to thank President Jan Harting-McChesney for her dedicated leadership over the past three years.  In addition the trustees thank our volunteers, members, and friends. We are gratified that you share with us the belief that our purpose has enduring value.  Living in this beautiful area is a gift.  Remembering those who came before us and bestowed this treasure upon us is what the historical society is all about.  As you know, our mission is to preserve and interpret Long Island’s past, in particular the history of the Bellport, Brookhaven, and East Patchogue areas.  Rest assured that we strive for professionalism and integrity as we aspire to be worthy of our mission, knowing that earning your trust and respect as caretakers of your historical society animates everything we do.

We wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Yours truly,

Victor Principe

Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society is a 501-c-3 tax exempt organization


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