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A History of the Yaphank Historical Society

The catalyst for the formation of the Yaphank Historical Society was a survey of the old homes along Main Street in Yaphank, done by Kathleen Cummings and sponsored by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities in 1972. The survey was a first step in filing a Yaphank Historic District on the New York State Register for Historic Places. Ms. Cummings compiled "blue forms" for the houses which noted the date of construction, condition of the home and significant historic information. The inventory forms were submitted to New York State and the Yaphank Historic District was placed on the state register.

In July of 1974, Eugene Dooley invited all of the owners of the historic structures listed on the State Register to a meeting at the Swezey Avey House on the Upper Yaphank Lake to discuss the possibility of forming an historical society. At that meeting it was decided that a committee comprised of Eugene Dooley, Anne Fegley, Joan Longtin, Karen Mouzakes and Kathy Schmidt should meet to draw up a constitution and bylaws.

On August 19, 1974, the Constitution and Bylaws of the Yaphank Historical Society was voted on and passed by the thirty members present. The following people were elected to position on the first Board of Directors of the Yaphank Historical Society:

  • President: Eugene Dooley
  • Vice President: Anne Fegley
  • Recording Secretary: Karen Mouzakes
  • Corresponding Secretary: Kathy Schmidt
  • Three Year Trustee: William Potabi
  • Two Year Trustees: John Fegley & Nino Pantella
  • One Year Trustees: Paul Schmidt & Ronnie Hoffman

The Society continued the pursuit of its goals for the preservation of Yaphank and the surrounding area, with the guidance of the following presidents:

  • Eugene Dooley, 1974-75
  • Veronica Hoffman, 1975-77
  • Eugene Dooley, 1977-79
  • John Morris, 1979-81
  • Karen Mouzakes, 1981-83
  • John Morris, 1983-86
  • Kathleen Schmidt, 1986-88
  • John Morris, 1988-92
  • Eugene Dooley, 1992-95
  • Jack Rauh, 1995-97
  • William Potabi, 1997-99
  • Russel Behrens 1999-2001
  • Helen Kalbach, 2001-

Through the years the Society has sponsored numerous events such as Country Fairs to raise money for the restoration of the interior of the Hawkins House. In 1985, member Trica Foley featured the House in an article for House Beautiful Magazine, which gave the house restoration a tremendous boost. Over the years, Lucille and Wally Stroud, Stanley Leonardi, Ralph Silano, John Morris, Michael Schaeffer, Jane Corrarino, Tom White, Karen Mouzakes, Kathy Schmidt, Jack Rauh, Henry Seuffert, Ralf Petersen and Jim Hololob have worked to restore the interior of the Hawkins House. In May of 1987, an Herb Garden, dedicated to the memory of Wally Stroud, was added to the Hawkins property. Ralf Petersen has created and maintains the lovely Victorian Garden in front of the Hawkins House. The Society is most proud that the Hawkins House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Yaphank Historical Society Newsletter was first edited by Anne Fegley. Through the years, Ronnie Hoffman, Jack Rauh, Claire Behrens and Kayann Donaldson have held this position. In the early 1990's, there was a movement afoot to come up with a snappy new name for the newsletter. After a contest and a vote, everyone agreed to leave it unchanged! Bank of the River Gift Shop was first conceived by Lucille Stroud. She still manages it today with help from members Stanley and Emilie Leonardi. Continued ...