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Continued ... A History of the Yaphank Historical Society

The first priority for the new Society was to invite Jack Luchsinger from the Brookhaven Town Planning Board to speak on the Proposed Yaphank Historic District for Brookhaven Town. If passed, the proposal would give the already designated New York State Historic District local recognition. Next, the Society requested that the Hawkins House and property on Yaphank Avenue be transferred from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works to the Suffolk County Parks Department. A request was made that the house be fenced to prevent further damage by vandals. (The 1850 House had been condemned for the widening of Yaphank Avenue and was now in poor condition.) The preservation of this house was a priority for the Society. Lastly, "The Triangle", which was the entrance to town, was an unattractive mass of tangled brush. The Society wanted to make it more attractive.

That first year, the Yaphank Historical Society hosted Jack Luchsinger to discuss the proposed Yaphank Historic District which caused much dissension in town and was not to come to fruition until 1984, when the Yaphank Civic Association worked to bring the proposition to a vote and it passed. In 1975, the Hawkins House was transferred to the Parks Department and fenced. The Society came to an agreement with Suffolk County for the Yaphank Historical Society to have custodianship of the Hawkins House with responsibility to restore and maintain its interior. Suffolk County would restore and maintain the exterior of the building. The Historical Society has had a good working relationship over the years with Suffolk County Historic Trust Managers Lance Mallamo and Richard Martin. Both have offered support and guidance in the house restoration. The Society then made the Yaphank Triangle an attractive entrance to town. A new Bicentennial Triangle was dedicated on July 4, 1976, with great fanfare. Vera Hoffman sang the National Anthem. The Yaphank V.F.W., assisted by the Boy Scoouts, raised the flag. Following the ceremony, a reception was held for the community at the Swezey House.

The first fundraisers for the Society were a Golf Outing at the Bellport Country Club and an Antiques Auction held at the German American Settlement League Club House. Both events were chaired by Don Allen. Lucille Stroud chaired the committee of quilters who made and raffled a patch quilt. Nick Ulrick of Brookhaven Town Community Development Office helped the Society to secure a grant to produce the booklet "Historic Sites in Yaphank", which used research gathered by Kathleen Cummings, Kathy Schmidt and Karen Mouzakes.

Karen Mouzakes and Kathy Schmidt began the tradition of the Holiday House Tour at Christmas in 1988. It continues as an annual event with all Society members decorating rooms and baking cookies to ensure its success. Helen Kalbach chairs the Holiday Victorian Dinner and, with the help of Jill Schoenig, Marite Acosta and Candy Argondizza, has made it a sold out event. Gloria Seuffert and Marge Rauh planned the first Proper Victorian Tea, and the springtime event, which carries guests to an earlier time, is continued by Kayann Donaldson and Sue Maresca.

Welcoming the public to Sunday Summer Tours of the Hawkins House are docents Lucille Stroud, Helen Kalbach, Karen Mouzakes, Helga Wubker and Edythe Davis. Private Tours for Community Groups are also offered. A Society brochure that provides a self-directed Walking Tour of the Yaphank Historic District is available at the local delicatessens, and at the Hawkins House. Through the years the Society has researched and presented short radio spots on WALK Radio to promote Yaphank's place in the history of Brookhaven Town.

The donation of the Mary Louise Booth House to Suffolk County was made by society members Myrton and Madeline Kinney in 1996. Stan and Lenny Kazel of Dawn House Movers generously moved the house to its present location on East Main Street without charge. Tricia Foley spearheads the restoration of this house, which is the birthplace of Mary Louise Booth, the first editor of Harper's Bazaar. By planning a Thirtieth Anniversary Fundraiser, highlighting the Booth House, Tricia hopes for a speedy restoration of this historic site.

The Society's plan for the future is that Yaphank's Historic District will become a destination for those interested in the history of Brookhaven Town. The Hawkins House, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, and the Homan House and Mill Site are already listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Our friends at the Suffolk County Police Department Police Museum will soon complete the restoration of the Yaphank Garage(1937). The Mary Louise Booth House would complete the picture with representations of lile in Yaphank in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Join us and help to make it so!

     - Karen Mouzakes, Historian